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

Comaxurros, Modern Churros, Sant Gervasi

ComaxurrosOn page 16 of June’s Elle Gourmet there is a tiny picture of some pallid churros with an insert about how they come salty and sweet.   The picture does not induce even minor pangs of hunger but the text is intriguing.

I set off on a mission to a little visited part of town. The street didn’t say much to me, sometimes a new address is just the thing to get me discovering a whole host of charming places and this wasn’t going to be one of those times. The flourescent sign of Comaxurros was easy enough to spot, though the light did nothing to enhance the few churros they had in the window in pink, yellow and brown. Still, I had come all the way to try so I dutifully went in. I ordered a raspberry one and my sister had the passion fruit one.

Churros at ComaxurrosThey look like sharp edged eclaires but taste nothing like them. I like love eclaires but these churros eclaire things are possibly even better. There’s a chew, a tug. There is the vague savouriness that churro pastry always has and when that is coupled with sour and sweet – it’s an addiction in the making. That is without mentioning that it’s fried and fried tastes better.   You only have to have a taste and all of a sudden, it turns out it’s not so much that you want it as you need it. Right. Now. Read more of this post

Praktik Bakery, Self-Service Bakery / Cafe, La Dreta de l’Eixample

Praktik Hotel BakeryI avoid making bread. Cake, cookies, tarts? Yes, yes and yes. Work clean, measure accurately, get the oven temperature right and with a good recipe, success can always be achieved. Bread on the other hand requires time, commitment, nurturing and being open and receptive to what it’s telling you. Bread making is like taking care of a child. And I have 3 of those so my patience and intuition are worn thin, I am full to the point of bursting in the deciphering mercurial temperaments department.

So bread? Not so much in my house.

Praktik Hotel BakeryI do like to eat it though and watch Anna Bellsolà make it on Youtube. All topsy turvy and not the way I do it at all (the way I do it is stick everything into the Kitchen Aid, mix, put cling film on top and wait for it to rise – no art or beauty in the process. But Anna, to make a ciabatta, she starts by mixing flour, water and salt. She works that dough. She rests it. Later she adds crumbled yeast to it. (!!!) She rests it. Then she pours green olive oil on and somehow coaxes the bread to suck it all in. By the end, having worked with a dough so wet, it would have intimidated me into adding an avalanche of flour  (but not her) –  she has a dough so round, pert and perfect that when she slaps it, it sounds like she is slapping a baby’s bottom. Read more of this post

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