As an ocean-going bird, The Gannet has perched on a few bowsprits in his time but, save for the occasional fish, the food always seems much better on dry land. Find a suitable haven (a swanky marina preferably) and you can yacht-spot to your heart’s content without spilling a drop of Dom Pérignon.
In Barcelona, nowhere is plusher than OneOcean Port Vell, a stone’s throw from the beach and a ramble from Las Ramblas. It’s a marina for superyachts, with a clubhouse for owners and their guests, as well as a bar and a restaurant for those who merely want to eat, drink and watch.
Blue Wave, the chic modern bar and terrace, serves a mean cocktail. Gin for sophisticates, rum for pirates: try the Bramble (a concoction of gin, lemon juice and blackberry liqueur invented in London by the late, great Dick Bradsell) or the Daiquiri (rum, lemon, maraschino).
The restaurant is equally glitzy, serving an international menu with a strong inclination towards seafood: local white fish in a ceviche with kumquats; quick-grilled anchovies from L’Escala, up the coast; and Peruvian-style tiradito (like spicily dressed sashimi) of mackerel or tuna, with seaweed bread, black garlic and shiso.
There is also a charcoal grill for monkfish, octopus, mussels and navajas (razor clams), as well as Ibérico ham, steak tartare… even burger and chips, should that float your boat.
And should it float as far as Piraeus, head for the pretty harbour of Mikrolimano. Here you will find Varoulko, Lefteris Lazarou’s superb Michelin-starred restaurant, where the kitchen steers an effortless course between classicism and modernity.
My host for dinner was Constantinos Raptis, cellarmaster at Metaxa, the mahogany-coloured, rose‑scented Greek spirit to which The Gannet is extremely partial. I had just returned from Samos and its steep, ancient vineyards: the sweet, floral wine from their Muscat vines is part of the Metaxa blend, as are crushed rose petals and long-matured spirit. But I cannot tell you what else is in it because Constantinos wouldn’t say, despite a lengthy dinner involving several glasses of wine.
Never mind: dinner was a delight. Homemade bread and excellent olive oil (Ritual Bloom); little fillets of fish with crisp slices of sourdough and a pea emulsion; grilled cuttlefish with lentils and an orange sauce, vibrant in both colour and flavour; and bream with celeriac purée, bathed in a rockfish broth that sang of the sea.
Expect intense flavours and stylish, painterly presentation, without the sparseness that can imply. His father was a ship’s cook: Lazarou, very wisely in my view, prefers to practise his art on terra firma.