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

La Cuina d’en Garriga, Delicatessant & Restaurant, Dreta de L’Eixample

La Cuina d'en GarrigaI visited La Garriga twice before I finally decided to give it a try with my new friend Anjalina of the Barcelona food blog – Rainbow Spoon.  Mostly because this neighborhood has a tendency for well designed shops with mediocre but expensive food.  Garriga has some promising visual cues; they use and sell bread from Baluard, stock tea from Mariage Frères and sauces from Wilkins & Sons.  Meanwhile their chiller cabinet is groaning and perspiring with all manner of delicious things.La Cuina d'en GarrigaMy original plan had been to order some buffalo mozzarella with organic rocket but then I thought it better to test the kitchen and ordered the quinoa salad (€11.30) and the arroz ala cubana (€11.50). Anjalina ordered the lentils with foie gras (€11.40).  Portion sizes were on the small side and prices on the other end of the end of the scale but it was all delicious, unexpectedly so.  The lentils were boiled so that they were tender and not a moment to long.  The quinoa was light and fluffy with the surprising addition of candied lemon peel.  All dressed well.  The lone fried egg atop my rice a la cubana could have used a friend, my stomach certainly thought so.   But overall good and a nice change from all the Tapas and such. 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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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

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