Want to know the real Barcelona? Jose Pizarro has you covered – and then some
If you want to get to know the real Barcelona, your first stop needs to be hitting up José Pizarro.
As a Spanish chef now based in London, José has not only a wealth of local knowledge about Barcelona but countless personal memories that give him an edge of intel on the city’s food and culture scene you won’t get anywhere else.
Adding another string to his bow, José is also the Chef Ambassador for Estrella Damm – the beer of Barcelona, and an award-winning premium brand with a sustainable approach to brewing.
Built on a foundation of gastronomy, sustainability and arts and culture, and with a unique, 100% natural recipe that gives Estrella Damm its refreshing and crisp taste – passion is poured into every step of the process.
Not only that, Estrella Damm places great importance on its heritage, which José can attest to in his work as both its Chef Ambassador and as a world-class chef.
The chef hails from the beautiful village of Talaván in Cáceres
Originally from the beautiful village of Talaván in Cáceres, Extremadura, Barcelona is very close to the chef’s heart and, while he now lives in London, the city still feels very much like home.
‘Barcelona is very close to my heart. I have great friends and wonderful memories there, and it very much feels like home to me.
‘I have huge respect for Catalan cuisine which pays remarkable respect to both its history and the quality of the local ingredients, whilst celebrating the art and science behind good eating,’ he tells Metro.co.uk. ‘These values are also central to my cooking philosophy and of course, are something I always want to emulate in the food and drink offering in my restaurants.’
The entire way of life in the area inspires the gourmet, with José insisting there is an overwhelming sense of pride in the city’s traditions, with a love for local food, friends and family that always touches him deeply.
You’ve got to head to La Barceloneta (Picture: Getty Images)
He explains: ‘To me it’s about finding new flavours, but also exploring and honouring traditional Catalan dishes and working with local ingredients to those regions. That’s why I’ve always been proud to be an Estrella Damm Chef Ambassador. As a beer that champions 100% natural, local ingredients with a strong commitment to its traditions, having been brewed in Barcelona to the same recipe since 1876, Estrella Damm is a true reflection of Barcelona culture.’
It perhaps comes as no real surprise that the lager goes hand in hand with José’s cuisine, and the chef, who owns five restaurants in the UK – José Pizarro Tapas Bermondsey Street; Pizarro Restaurant Bermondsey; José Pizarro Broadgate Circle; The Swann Inn, and José Pizarro in Royal Academy of Arts – has now revealed his favourite cuisines from his home.
The Barcelonian way of life is all about celebrating good food and drink with friends and family
While he has many amazing memories of the city’s incredible gastronomic offering, José says: ‘I’d have to choose La bomba de la Barceloneta, a dish served at Cova Fumada in the neighbourhood of La Barceloneta, because it is the ultimate Barcelonian dish. It’s a delicious, big croqueta made with a deep-fried mix of mashed potato and minced meat, topped with spicy tomato sauce and aioli.’
A perfect day in Barcelona according to José:
The chef says Park Güell as a must-see (Picture: Getty Images)
‘Even though it is popular with tourists, my favourite way to start the day is with a trip to La Boquería market – but be sure to go early as it gets more crowded as the day goes on!
‘While you’re there, you must stroll around Park Güell, a magical place with amazing buildings, sculptures, and tile work designed by Gaudí.
‘Then, it’s time to escape the tourists by getting out into the city on foot, with endless places to stop and appreciate outdoor installations by Catalan artists, such as The World Begins With Every Kiss by Joan Fontcuberta, visiting any hole-in-the-wall eateries that you stumble across along the way.
‘When you’re ready to rest, spend the afternoon at one of the city’s lesser-known beaches, like the Llevant, to watch the sun go down.’
By the way, at José’s Bermondsey restaurant there is a version of the dish that he calls the ‘Bermondsey bomb’, which transports him back to Barcelona ‘in seconds’.
Hot tip from the man himself: ‘To me this dish is best experienced with a mix of seasonal tapas in the sun with friends and pairs perfectly with an ice-cold pint.’
While many people may think of Barcelona as a party destination, José insists that while of course there is this side to the city, there’s so much more to it waiting to be experienced.
José says seasonal tapas pairs perfectly with an ice-cold pint of Estrella Damm
The key to experiencing the ‘real’ Barcelona is, to José, avoiding the touristy areas and instead, getting lost in the winding backstreets ‘until you find yourself a beautiful square to relax in and soak up the best of the city’s vibrant culture’.
He says: ‘The key is to immerse yourself in areas filled with locals and to learn the way of life in Barcelona from them. Personally, I always find the best way to the heart of experiencing someone else’s culture is through local food and drink.
‘Be sure to research the best gourmet delicacies that are specific to Barcelona, such as Fideuà, Arròs Negre and Canelons, and pair these incredible traditional dishes with the beer of Barcelona, an ice-cold Estrella Damm.’
Want to live more like a true Barcelonian?
José says: ‘Get together with friends and loved ones as often as you can. You don’t need any big reason to celebrate, all you need is some delicious, simple food, chilled drinks, and great company. That is reason enough to get together and simply celebrate life.’
We really cannot argue with that.
Follow José at @jose_pizarro
Why Estrella Damm is the best drink for the summer
Estrella Damm is the stylish, vibrant and passionate beer for people who want to enjoy the taste of Barcelona’s lifestyle, sunshine, fun and culture
Estrella Damm is inspired by the energy of Barcelona, a city that’s an eclectic mix of urban, cultured, relaxed, vibrant and social, with premium gastronomy and a unique artistic offering that attracts people from all over the world.
Estrella Damm is the beer for people who want to enjoy the taste of Barcelona’s lifestyle, sunshine, fun and culture. Being 100% Mediterranean and from Barcelona is what makes Estrella Damm stand out from the crowd.
Brewed to the same recipe since 1876, the quality of ingredients is of the utmost importance and as such, Estrella Damm works closely with local farmers, sourcing everything within 160km of the brewery
It’s the perfect accompaniment to any dish; light and refreshingly drinkable, with a perfect balance between fresh grainy malt and subtle fruit, rounded off with a peppery bitterness.