Shunka, Japanese, El Barri Gòtic

ShunkaI had a birthday to celebrate a few Friday’s ago (mine) and while I dithered about whether I should take a short trip somewhere, book a night in a hotel with a massage thrown in or… Well I couldn’t make up my mind (libra). That Friday was also the Mercat de Mercats which was a pleasure to poke around in while I hemmed and hawed about which foot I should start my “older but not wiser” journey on.  Then we turned the corner and saw the slate coloured noren of Shunka gently rippling in the breeze and I thought: sushi, what an age appropriate dinner to have.  Shunka, the best seat in the house is at the barCompared to its elegant sibling, Koy Shunka, Shunka is bare bones. The food is similarly not as breathtaking in presentation nor conception. They serve a simple traditional menu here. However the quality and execution is outstanding. In everything. The Unagi Nigiri (€5.15) are tender and generous.  The rice that accompanies the sushi and food is firm, glistening and although there is some rice vinegar in there – it doesn’t overpower it.   Read more of this post

La Xocolateria, Cafe, El Born

La XocolateriaSocial media users have been sending La Xocolateria a lot of love.  It’s easy to see why.  It’s gorgeous.  That wall of stacked drawers everyone has been posting pictures of is even better in reality.  There are beautiful tiles.  Magical pockets of light.  It’s next to Cafe Kaffka on the picturesque mercat del Born.  It is a good looking shop.  The drawers we all wantThen it kind of unravels for me. Oriol Balaguer is a confectionary magician, turning out delicate lacquered cakes and coaxing chocolate into shiny deliciousness. La Xocolateria sells a handful of the cakes and some chocolates but the emphasis at this shop seems to be on ice cream, waffles, crepes and churros. Available with various toppings and/or hot drinks as displayed on a menu I instantly dislike for having too many options.The menu La XocolateriaThe waffles and crepes are cooked to order – which is the least you would expect from a chief confectioner such as Balaguer but the churros are not.  “But they are kept in a special chilled room and re-heated to order.” the earnest young man behind the counter assures me.  I just hear “re-heated”.  For me, with churros, that doesn’t work.  They have to be freshly fried, wet dough plopping into hot fat, sizzling and then catching part of your greedy mouth unawares and singeing it.  Read more of this post

Eat Street, Food Trucks, Barcelona

Caravan Made at Eat StreetThis is the 4th or 5th Eat Street in Barcelona. Unlike the previous incarnations, this one was in a public space. The public space part is important because Food Trucks are not permitted in Barcelona. (Whoever attended the inaugular BCN Start Up Kitchen event at betahaus will have had the pleasure of listening to Joe Littenberg turn the harrows of getting the Ajuntament de Barcelona to issue permission for their event into a stand up comedy routine.)Eat StreetIt’s almost inconceivable that the first Eat Street took place a mere 6 months ago because this event looks, smells and even sounds (thanks to DJ’s Jo Cultrera and Matuke) like a food truck veteran. Trucks and stands manage to serve the huge crowds of people all day and into the night.  Quite a lot of trucks  actually (many of them with lovely quirky branding – like Reina Croqueta) considering they are not permitted.  Talk about optimists and who out there won’t agree with me that what the world needs now more than anything is optimists?  Eat Street, October Read more of this post

La Pepita, Pepitas & Tapas, Gracia

La PepitaLa Pepita is a family run restaurant launched in 2010. Nothing out of the ordinary about that. (It’s mostly family run, small businesses – “this is our second living room” places “and we also serve some food here, my brother will fix you up a drink and don’t wake up my nan who is sleeping in the corner” – kind of city.)La Pepita Nan isn’t in the corner at La Pepita (named after “the “female” version of the Pepito, a baguette filled with veal steak that is a classic.” ) What you find instead is a French bistro style restaurant, complete with Paris metro style tiles adorned with an abundance of graffiti.  There are clear signs that this is Barcelona; the ubiquitous Jamón, long necklaces of garlic suspended from the ceiling and Vichy Catalan as the only choice of sparkling water.La Pepita, BarcelonaThe menu is made up of sandwiches (pepito) and small plates to share.  I wouldn’t call them tapas because to my mind – tapas tend to fit in an ashtray, whereas at La Pepita they come on larger plates and are plated with lots of layers to create volume (a lot of love for squeezy bottles and Japanese mandolins in this kitchen).  There is a tendency for a shaggy presentation: lots of leaves and herbs, whole and chopped, strewn about the plate helping to convey a feeling of abundance.  Then there is the sauce – quite a lot of it, although not all the same – different types.   Read more of this post

Devour Barcelona, Food Tour

Devour Barcelona Food ToursThere is a new food tour in town: Devour Barcelona. It comes from the folks who started the terrifically successful Madrid Food Tour.  It offers a 4 hour tour of Gracia, one of my favourite neighborhoods.  There is no paella and obviously no visit to the Boqueria market, instead we visit 1o addresses, the majority of which do not have a website and have never heard of social media.  L'Abaceria CentralOf course, since we are in Barcelona, where shopping for food is an art and an integral part of socializing that takes the better part of the morning, 6 days a week – there is a market visit. The Mercat de L’Abaceria Central is made up of a few earnest shoppers. We are the exception, crowding around to try a salt cod skewer from Gloria.  Then picking at a tray of cheeses and cured meats from La Trobada del Gourmet – including a Manchego that won the World Cheese Award.  A few shoppers stop and stare at us like we are some rare animal, clearly, they are not accustomed to hordes of tourists taking pictures of cheese and snails with their smartphones.   Read more of this post

Tlaxcal, Mexican Food, El Born

TlaxcalTlaxcal has been recommended by the chef of Ninjo Viejo, Paco Mendez and by Jordi Gasó from Pakta in Food & Wine Magazine.  It is possible that all this adoration may have gone to the management’s head.  I say this because when I last visited for lunch with my sister (at 14:30), we were given the worst / smallest table, practically in the bathroom in the only dark corner in what is otherwise a lovely and bright space.

Tlaxcal, Mexican FoodGlancing at the row of empty tables, I politely asked – “Oh – do you think we could maybe sit in the main dining room?”
“No.”
“No?”
“No, those are tables of four. You are only two.”
“Okaay – but the tables of four are made up of single tables. So we could pull one of them apart and then we could sit there and you would still have 2 tables of 4? I mean what are the chances that you will have 3 parties of 4 customers walking in for lunch in the next 45 minutes.”
“No.”
“What about if we sit there and then if the 3 parties of 4 arrive we move?”
“No.”

Lunch menu Alrighty then. We were hungry. We had somewhere to be and the lunch menu was well priced at €11.  So we sat in the dark eating our lunch while the main dining room remained empty – like an architectural mock-up. Read more of this post

Satan’s Coffee, Third Wave Coffee, El Barri Gottic

Satan's Coffee, BarcelonaI’ve been on Satan’s heels for almost a year now. I showed up to a cute shop he was supposed to have a corner in only to find out he’d left. Then I heard he was opening up in a bike shop around the corner. And finally I found the shop in a kind of worm hole location I would never accidentally stumble across, even though it is a moments away from Mercer hotel and minutes from Las Ramblas.

Satan's CoffeeWhat a shop.  Wall to ceiling windows, thick glass, black Tolix stools – pivoted at an angle.  A shop that could easily be selling expensive leather goods.

When I arrive, the yellow bench in front of the La Marzocco machine is occupied by 4 Australians (have you ever noticed that they travel in packs?).  Behind the La Marzocco is a petit girl, struggling with an Aeropress. A battle that continues for a few more minutes before she gives up and lets her customers know it’s not going to happen. Profuse apologies ensue, to the English couple that ordered the Aeropress, to the 4 Australians waiting on the bench, to me. 10 minutes later I have a flat white in a takeaway cup rather than the cappuccino to have in that I ordered. I perch on a Tolix and take it all in. Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,152 other followers