This was the case when we went to a bar that I found in the local English-language booklet, and went straight to the house with thorns atop it – a famous Barcelona attraction – because the bar location is exactly in this house. So to say, vermouth brought us to art. Up until then we’ve never visited local vermuterias, and the title, which I could hardly read in syllables, – Matalaranya – somehow I immediately liked the way this word sounds.
Well, besides being on the ground floor of an architectural masterpiece, from a bar point of view it would seem that this place is not remarkable for Barcelona. It is an ordinary city café, a typical tapas bar with home vermouth. But first off, I had never drunk home vermouth until that moment, especially poured from a tap, like a beer. Second off, tapas are tapas, but it is not always so easy as it seems to find a simple bright modern café, not that traditional dubious type of eateries (I have no doubt about their authenticity, but the bitter experience in Cuba, where I suffered food poisoning for three days, adds more scrutiny and seriousness to my approach of searching for the right places).
In Matalaranya everything somehow aligned: appetizing snacks, cold vermouth with olive and orange garnish, behind a glass of a display counter there’s a shop of souvenir Catalan tiles with patterns of all sorts, high ceilings, a smiling barman. And again, thorns on the roof – sure.
By the way, all the usual home vermouth based cocktails change their traditional taste. It is clear that they don’t become radically different, but they gained new prominence, became more sound and unboring taste.
They say that Matalaranya is from some poem written by a local poet and no one knows what this means. And when I was packing my backpack before the trip, I was looking for a book that I could take on the road, preferably written by a Spanish author, but didn’t manage to find anything worthwhile. So I went with Jorge Amado.
It feels very, very good in this café, despite the fact that the bartenders’ English is not so good. I like this the most in the concept of tapas bars – come and point at what seems most delicious. I read at their facebook page that they have a lunch menu, so if you’re strolling around the city in the middle of the day aiming to come across a bowl of soup, map your way through the House with thorns – and you can checkmark this tourist attraction from the list of must-visit place, and enjoy a snack under the craft – a new hype way to define – vermouth.
Carrer del Rosselló 260, Barcelona
Mon-Sun 09:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
A glass of vermouth – about 2 euros