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"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life." -- Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés of José Andrés ThinkFoodGroup, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019

"Trust me everyone, I have traveled with this man, if Gerry Dawes tells you to eat somewhere it's like Bourdain, believe it!!" - - Chef Mark Kiffin, The Compound Restaurant, Canyon Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“Spain wouldn’t be as known to Americans without the stories Gerry tells and writes.” - - Superstar Catalan Chef Ferran Adrià, elBulli

"But, for Gerry, Spain is more than just the Adriàs and (Juan Mari and Elena) Arzaks. He has connected with all manner of people working at every level and in every corner of Spain. I’m always amazed at this reach. You can step into a restaurant in the smallest town in Spain, and it turns out they know Gerry somehow. I remember one rainy night in Madrid during the 2003 Madrid Fusión congress. I wanted to go to my favorite place for patatas bravas, the ultimate tapa. But Gerry had another place in mind, and I didn’t know about it. But Gerry is always right. The potatoes at his place were amazing.” - - Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019; Chef-partner of Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, New York 2019


Food Arts Silver Spoon Award to Gerry Dawes


 Premio Nacional de Gastronomía - - James Beard Foundation Nomination (Best Wine Writing)
Premio Periodistíco Cava

Gerry Dawes's Article Medieval Riches of El Cid's City (About Burgos, Spain)
Front Page, The New York Times Sunday Travel Section

 About Blog Author Gerry Dawes, Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award)


4/06/2019

La Bombeta in La Barceloneta of Barcelona: An Iconic Place for Bombas (Deep-fried mashed potatoes and pork “bombs”), a Barcelona Tapas Specialty & Another of Those Joints Whose Awful Waiters Make a Place Unforgettable, Which Is Probably the Reason The Waiters Are So Antipático


  
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Bombas, which are like deep-friend Italian arancini rice balls, except these “bombs,” balls (read croquettes), are done with mashed potatoes and pork and served topped with the same lightly picante sauce used on patatas bravas and a thin version of all-i-oli, actually garlic mayonnaise.

I first went to La Bombeta, a la Barceloneta bar highly regarded in the neighborhood, three weeks ago for the first time, after having been in la Barceloneta many, many times.  

Writer George Semler, who has lived in Barcelona for fifty years took me.  After enduring the most inefficient and antipático waiters of this trip (one month across the country) and one of the most antipathetic of my 50 years of traveling and following the gastronomy of Spain for more than 50 years, the waiter finally got around to our table some 20 minutes after we were seated.  

 Writer George Semler, who has lived in Barcelona for fifty years, knows the city exceptionally well.  He led me to la Bombeta. 

We ordered bombas, which are like deep-friend Italian arancini rice balls, except these “bombs,” balls (read croquettes), are done with mashed potatoes and pork and served topped with the same lightly picante sauce used on patatas bravas and a thin version of all-i-oli, actually garlic mayonnaise.  I had first eaten a bomba a month at Mercado Little Spain in New York, where star chef Albert Adrià had put this Barcelona origin-claimed dish on the menu.  La Bombeta’s version was good.  At least it stood out as good, since a well-made dish was the last thing I was expecting after dealing with our waiter.   We also ordered rabas (friend calamares) and vermut rojo with ice and a lemon slice.  And, for dessert, we chose crema catalana to see how this típico neighborhood joint, la Bombeta, did with Barcelona’s riff on crème brûlée (or is crème brûlée a riff on crema catalana?) and this classic dessert was good. 

 Rabas (friend calamares) at la Bombeta in la Barceloneta.

So, why with decent to good food, at least what we tried (I have heard that patatas bravas at la Bombeta should be avoided) does ownership/management feel that they should allow waiters that seem bent on making customers unwelcome–at least foreigners anyway (George and I both speak fluent Spanish)?   A couple of clues may be found on the menu, which is superimposed over the image of a hot-air balloon with an (ironically) friendly looking, smiling guy waved what looks like the check, and, written on the bottom of the menu “no aceptamos tarjetas de credito” with a graphic of Visa card crossed out.  Since, most of the tourist in Barcelona are toters of credit cards, this can deter foreigners, as can an inscription on the walls, the friendly enough sounding, “no hablamos inglés pero hacemos unas bombas cojonudas,” (“we don’t speak English, but we have freaking great bombas). 

Menu at la Bombeta, "we do not accept credit cards."
An inscription on the walls reads “no hablamos inglés pero hacemos unas bombas cojonudas,” (“we don’t speak English, but we have freaking great bombas). 

George and I finally got our sour waiter, who had stepped outside for a smoke, to bring us our check and left.  Later I would read on the Barcelona food blog, Bares Auténticos, written and photographed by Goretti "Go" Pérez and her collaborator Alex "Ales" de MenaCreo que los camareros, para entrar a trabajar ahí, pasan algún tipo de examen psicotécnico para valorar el grado de incompetencia y borderío; si no llegan a unos niveles extremadamente altos, no son contratados (“I think that the waiters, to begin working there, pass some type of psycho technical examination to assess the degree of incompetence and bad attitude; if they do not reach extremely high levels, they are not hired.”)   The writers continued, “You  freak out when they attend to customers without even looking them in the face, that they can pass your table 300 times (ignoring you) when you call them and they leave without warning while you are ordering. Do we really have to put up with that?”

Had I not seen the Bares Auténticos review and realized that this waiter attitude has been going on for at least a decade, I would not have written this report.  (It did occur to me that our waiter might have sick? overworked? underpaid? harrassed by bad management?)  So, I decided to write my own report, although this is what those who direct this fiasco undoubtedly want, because a bad reputation is fame and fame is better than no fame, plus, who knows? maybe they think that this reputation enhances their standing with the locals who frequent La Bombeta (there are often lines outside and the place is usually filled).  

This management attitude is not original. There are and have been these types of restaurants that have achieved fame for having antipático waiters and since, the World has no lack of masochists, they thrive.  In New York, Peter Luger in Brooklyn, comes to mind.  I have known others, in Sevilla, in Madrid and in Barcelona (Els Quatre Gats, the famous café where Picasso had his first exhibition, comes to mind).  Grown men with padded wallets actually grovel to get on the good side of this miscreant waiters, to be accepted at a favored joint.  One suspects that some of them then move on to a professional sado-masochism parlor.

 Painting of Ramón Casas y Pere Romeu en un tándem (Two Men on a Bicycle Built For Two), a painting at Els Quatre Gats,  the famous café in Barcelona where Picasso had his first exhibition.


Thankfully, there are relatively few of these joints. In the case of La Bombeta, taking into account the antipathy of our waiter, one tends to give more importance to the food if it is decent to good. The bombas were okay, but no miracle, nor were the bravas sauce, nor all-i-oli topping them.  The Vermouth is better in many places in Barcelona. The rabas fried squid were okay, but I would not to make a five-minute detour for them, and the crema Catalana was fine, but far from the best. In places like La Bombeta, the tendency is to contrast the quality of the dishes with the lack of quality from the waiters, so, contrasted with the service, the dishes tend to shine like diamonds in goat’s ass.

 For dessert, we chose crema catalana to see how this típico neighborhood joint, la Bombeta, did with Barcelona’s riff on crème brûlée (or is crème brûlée a riff on crema catalana?) and this classic dessert was good.


For those of you who like to be mis-treated while spending money on food:


La Bombeta
Maquinista 3, La Barceloneta, Barcelona
Mondays - Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to midnight
Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. & from 7:30 p.m. to midnight

  

* * * * *
  Shall deeds of Caesar or Napoleon ring
More true than Don Quixote's vapouring?
Hath winged Pegasus more nobly trod
Than Rocinante stumbling up to God?
 
Poem by Archer M. Huntington inscribed under the Don Quixote on his horse Rocinante bas-relief sculpture by his wife, Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington,
in the courtyard of the Hispanic Society of America’s incredible museum at 613 W. 155th Street, New York City.
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 Gastronomy Blogs

About Gerry Dawes

My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life." -- Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019


Gerry Dawes is the Producer and Program Host of Gerry Dawes & Friends, a weekly radio progam on Pawling Public Radio in Pawling, New York (streaming live and archived at www.pawlingpublicradio.org and at www.beatofthevalley.com.)

Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 


". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
 
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

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