Eat Street, Street Food, Poble Sec

L1103226Yesterday I went to the inaugural ‘street food festival’ organised by BCN Mes and held at CREC in Poble Sec. The reason I am using inverted comas is that the majority of the food stands have a bricks and mortar location in Barcelona.  Which is unlike street food at say Broadway Market (London) or Street Food Thursday (Berlin). All this is relevant because the line of people waiting to get into Eat Street is 3 people wide and two blocks deep (Barcelona blocks are big). It’s epic.L1103221Which is what I am thinking when I approach the girl with the worst job in the world (explaining to the sweaty hungry people that “No, she can’t let them in because there is a crowd control issue.”) I’ve got two hours before the twins are up from their afternoon nap, tentatively I explain that I write a blog and could I please get in to take some pictures? “Press was at 13:30.” she turns away. I bite my lip and hover a moment until an actual photographer turns up, towering above the both of us, pointing his massive lens menacingly at her and waving his press card – “your choice, let me in or you don’t get covered.” He’s obnoxious, he wears her down, I duck in behind him.
Eat StreetAnd so it is, sometimes another person’s hard time is another’s lucky break. Good thing too. I am amazed at the turn out. At how ready everyone seems to be for something just like this. And why wouldn’t they be, everyone else has been doing the food truck thing for ages?  (I get the impression that setting up a food truck or a temporary stand at one of the many markets may be difficult?  And perhaps the food culture in Barcelona is too ingrained compared to that of Berlin which in the last few years has exploded in the most impressive way?) Read more of this post

La Blanca, Bakery, L’Eixample


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One of the first things I did when I moved to Barcelona was to attend a baking course at Espai Sucre.  Not because I need to learn how to bake but to get a glimpse at who might be doing that kind of course.  I loved my baking teacher, Betina Montagne, a woman who wears brightly coloured dangly cupcake earrings without a hint of self-consciousness.  At some point she mentioned she was starting her own bakery so I made sure to get all her details, follow her on all the social media available and sure enough, right on time, she’s opened her bijou store.
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Skye Coffee Co, Coffee Truck, Poblenou

Skye Coffee Truck, BarcelonaThe coffee theme has snowballed on this blog.  I am not as obsessed with coffee as all these coffee centric posts may suggest.  However, that a diverse city like Barcelona might be missing a trick is intriguing to me.  Is it that all the expats that come to Barcelona are only here for the sun and lifestyle and they don’t work?  Is opening a place up here prohibitive in some way (doubtful given the density of independent shops)?  Or is the Cafe con Leche too ingrained to try anything new (I mean Parisians seem to be fine with that stuff they call coffee over there). Read more of this post

Baluard, Bakery, Barceloneta

Baluard BakeryWhen I moved to Bucharest from Kuwait – I must have been about 3 – I was struck by the smell of our local bakery.  It smelled sour, not yeasty like the commercial bread of today.  Baluard in Barceloneta has that same smell, sharp, sour – natural yeast fermenting slowly.  Actually, I had already tried Baluard bread before coming to the shop.  I bought some from the food hall at the Corte Ingles up in Pedralbes.  I was surprised that I had managed to get such good bread for only €3 or so.  Especially since I had found the bread at Reykjavik so expensive (I think somewhere around €7 for a similar amount).Baluard, BarcelonetaBaluard isn’t hip, I don’t think they use organic flour they just make exceedingly good bread.  I would say real bread, how it ought to be made.  And it’s available in a dizzying array of flavours and shapes.  It’s very much a neighborhood place, with the shop assistants knowing their wizened customers by name.

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Somewhere, Cafe, Sant Cugat del Vallès

Somewhere CafeMy Jordanian father once told me a story; we were visiting Vienna when I was a toddler and we were refused service at a restaurant because of me. Because I was a child. “But there is a dog in here!” he protested (Remember I said he is Jordanian, so letting in a dog and not a child is kind of carazy!). “Yes, dogs are allowed. Children are not.” Discussion closed.  Although children at mealtimes can still be a contentious issue in Northern Europe, in Southern Europe and Spain in particular it’s no big deal.  Where are your children supposed to be if not with you?  And no, you are not expected to wait until they are 18 before going out to eat.  Which means there isn’t really this niche of “children friendly” restaurants.  All people, of all sizes and ages are welcome in all restaurants.

SomewhereEvery now and then though, there is a place that makes special accommodations for little people.  Like Somewhere Cafe in San Cugat.  They’ve gone ahead and made a small corridor full of windows and stacked with colouring print outs and tubs of crayons.  From the moment I walked in with all my three, that’s where they remained.  Poking their faces through the windows when they needed to be fed before getting back to the business of colouring in. Read more of this post

Cøffee by Nomad Productions, Lab & Shop, El Born

Coffee Bar & CafeIt turns out that, if you look deep deep below the surface, there is something stirring in the Third Wave Coffee corner of Barcelona.  In the past couple of months – 3 places have opened up.  Cøffee Lab & Shop, Skye Coffee (a Citroen coffee truck) and Onna Cafe.  It is a grass-roots renaissance, initiated by people who have a life (I guess) so the hours (as so often happens in Barcelona) are not that favourable to you: punter-that-wants-a-constant-caffeine-fix.
Best coffee I have had to date in BarcelonaCøffee Lab & Shop has got the best ones actually.  Monday to Friday from 9:30 to 3:30 you can find Jordi (of Nomad Productions) making all kinds of magic using a DC/PRO that glows, AeroPress, V60 with Hario Buono pouring kettle, thermometers.  This place is kited out, geeked out.  Honestly, I’m just here for the flat white- I haven’t gone down the coffee anorak route yet. Read more of this post

Les Tres a la Cuina, Seasonal Fresh Food, Gracia

Les Tres La Cuina, GraciaThis is what I think: people of Barcelona eat out an incredible amount.  With 3 hours for siesta being observed by all but the biggest most visible shops, they have the time.  They do it with other people, big – small, young – old; I am always marvelling at the human mikado that can be lunch.  They are a gregarious bunch and I see them all at different points of their lives, living it, that moment – being present.  It’s pretty fantastic.

There are a lot of places to eat at, a jumble like my children’s overturned toy boxes.  Choice – sure but where to begin?  And how to avoid the trap that is specific to Barcelona – a well designed shop with a fumbling kitchen or else missing the grungy hole with spectacular food? Oh and what if I don’t want jamón?Les Tres a la CuinaIt’s a feat to untangle this scene but every now and then I hit gold and think: “Yes, I’m getting somewhere!”  Les Tres a la Cuina is one such place.  In one of my favourite neighborhoods, Gracia, it’s a small shop.  Some bar stools around a high communal table at the entrance and bench seating closer to the kitchen. Read more of this post

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