Conservas by Quimet & Quimet – Barcelona
Ask most people what they think of canned food and it’s clear that it is not held in high esteem, associated more with eating on a budget. Not so in Barcelona, canned food is a luxury item. You read that right. They are called conservas and encompass everything from skinned piquillo peppers, to clams, to anchovies, to fish roes. Even canned tuna can be special, take a brand like Oritz (https://www.conservasortiz.com/en ), their tuna or Bonito is individually line caught off the Cantabrian coast before being carefully preserved in olive oil. Galicia, a lush green area in the northwest area of Spain, is the source of the best conservas. They will typically be the more expensive ones. Tins of shellfish, like clams, will come with numbers 30/40, they relate to how many pieces you are likely to find in the can. The canning process changes the nature of the contents giving it a special and coveted flavour in a similar way that the curing process of Jamón enhances the ham. Typically conservas are traditional, family-run businesses but with the resurgence of conservas particularly as accompaniments to afternoon vermouth, even big names like Albert Adria are launching their own brands (https://www.lacalaalbertadria.com/productos/#100 ).
While most bodegas and bars will have conservas available, there are a few notable places that make conservas their primary focus. Old school Quimet et Quimet in Sant Antoni is no bigger than a generous closet, with ceiling-high shelves stacked with row upon row of cans (https://www.facebook.com/quimetiquimet ). Eager clients spill out onto the street balancing their drink and food. For those after more room and less chaos, there is Bodega Vidrios y Cristales close to the Estacio Franca (http://gruposagardi.com/restaurante/bodega-vidrios-y-cristales/ ). You can sift through the cans yourself and either take them home to enjoy or have the waiter crack one open for you and accompany it with a slice of soft potato tortilla.
Whichever option you choose, makes sure to take a few cans away with you. They make excellent if unexpected gourmet gifts.
I am the author and photographer of Foodie in Barcelona. A blog about restaurants and food in Barcelona. I moved to Barcelona 6 years ago from Berlin and before that I lived in London, Paris and Athens. I am a trained chef and have worked in the back and front of house, so not only do I love food, I know what it takes to make great food. I make it my mission to find the best this city has to offer and in so doing find out about the people that live here and the culture of this marvellous city.