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

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

Cloudstreet, Micro bakery, L’Esquerra de L’Eixample

Cloudstreet BakeryOne of the reasons I find food interesting is that the people behind food can be so engrossing.  And there is the added bonus that they are a lot more accessible than say a gallery curator or fashion designer. With food as a subject, a conversation with a stranger can erupt and gallop away with an afternoon.  Where you come from – where they come from, it doesn’t matter.  You are speaking the same language (even if some of the time you don’t speak the same language).   The bread baking equation written on the tiles at CloudstreetCloudstreet had been on my radar ever since the brunch they co-hosted with Skye Coffee at Espacio 88.   Yesterday I set out to find their shop.

Initially I walk right past them because it simply says Forn de Pa in old-fashioned lettering.  I double back and take a closer look at the window display, it’s obvious then that this is what I am looking for.  Tonatiuh (one of the bakers at Cloudstreet), with whom I have an instant affinity, explains that they bought the bakery from the original owner.  The former owner is in his 70’s now and was born in a small room over the 100-year-old wood burning ovens  that Cloudstreet have gratefully inherited. Read more of this post

Teicawey, Mexican Fast Food, Gracia

TeicaweyIt’s getting so hot now. August in Barcelona – it’s not so much about the temperatures as it is about the humidity. It’s wet and sticky.  You think – “I couldn’t possibly eat in this heat.” What you actually mean is “I couldn’t possibly cook.”  And you don’t have to if you are in Gracia, where you have Teicawey with its fat aluminium wrapped burritos and its clusters of hot sauces boasting varying degrees of spiciness.  The cooler Read more of this post

Tarannà, Cafe & Bar, Sant Antoni

TarannaTarannà is the kind of place you find a lot in London, New York and even Berlin but in Barcelona, where traditional cafes are still endearing, it is more of a rare find.  They do seasonal food (yawn I know, how many times have you heard that but places here sometimes serve Asparagus in December) and although the context (and the principal language)  of the menu is very much Catalan, the approach is light and refreshing.  Taranna The pricing is easy on the wallet too – which (again) in Barcelona is a rare thing. I have a cor de bou tomato salad.  A simple affair, the tomato “heart of the bull” I think it is.  An onions, splayed open like a flower, some olives, nice canned tuna.  No dressing.  Simple stuff.  For around €8.  Quite girly actually.  In fact as I look around, I see that that particular afternoon is running at around a 95% female customer occupancy (good tip for you boys that are trying to find Ms. Right – do men actually do that or is it primarily a girl thing?  My now husband had an entire list – a la Don Tillman but without the excuse of Asperger’s). Read more of this post

Chök, Doughnuts, Las Ramblas

ChökI have been to Chök a dozen times since I moved to Barcelona. I love their doughnut display: I mean, whatever is the hole there for if not for hooking it up on the wall?

They have a distinctive doughnut.  Extremely light: almost soapy in flavour.  They employ a special (secret) technique that makes it possible.  It’s not my thing.  I favour a hint of grease and the crispness in a doughnut.  I’m probably happiest with a sugared Krispy Kreme and a cup of black coffee (or in Barcelona, a Lukumas).IMG_5451 Read more of this post

Çu Kor, Candy Shop, Gracia

CukorAs a child, I had extremely poor dental hygiene, as a result, every molar I own has a retro Amalgam filling in it. If I don’t laugh out loud though, you can’t tell, in fact my front teeth are straight and white. Good-looking teeth because I am (now) fanatical about maintaining them. Which is why: I don’t eat candy.

Mannequins at the candy shopExcept on the rare occasions that I happen to be passing by the sweet shop Çu Kor in Gracia.  Everything here is handmade.  It is all beautiful, quirky and real.  In the winter, I picked up some wonderful ginger pastilles that soothed my raw throat.  A couple of weeks ago they had some stringy barba a papa.  Another time it was different sized discs in a rainbow of colours and a little satchel of sour powder.  They sell marshmallows, fruit pates, toffee, fudge.  It’s all here. Read more of this post

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