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

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

Oriol Balaguer, Confectionery, Sarrià – Sant Gervasi

oriol balaguerAfter this post, I am going to make it my mission to keep the blog Adrià free for a while.  But for now, let’s talk about Oriol Balaguer.  Born to a chocolatier father and graduating to the famed kitchens of El Bulli before being named (at the tender young age of 23) Best Artisan Confectioner in Spain.  My 4-year-old daughter and I are here today with a view to getting our hands on the chocolate cake in eight chocolate textures. 8 textures chocolate cakeThe store is elegant, the thick tinted glass, the brushed aluminum frames- it’s more Balenciaga then Confectioner.  And that is the point, as we are about to pay €35 for a very petite, very shiny cake.   Read more of this post

Caravelle, Coffee and Food, Raval

CaravelleIs it the lack of Australians or the lack of hipsters in Barcelona that can explain away the absence of 3rd wave coffee? Because samples from both these groups are present in Caravelle, the second best place to get a coffee in Barcelona after Cafe El Magnifico. They use a La Marzocco machine and source their coffee from a small roastery called Right Side (girls – I think you should click on their link just to get an eyeful of coffee-taster/roaster-in-lilac-shirt.)  Their flat white is the real deal while their version of a cappuccino is made with rather more milk then I like (same like the flat white in fact but with only one shot of espresso) and comes with a sprinkling of cocoa powder.  

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La Pastisseria, Classic Pastry, Eixample

La PastisseriaLook at this cake vitrine.  It’s gorgeous right? And those pastries, look at the shine on them. It’s the best rated restaurant in Barcelona on Tripadvisor: 65 reviews of 5 out of 5 stars.  Impressive.  All those reviewers can’t be wrong?

Well that depends on what you go for.  If you are taken in by bells and whistles – this place is for you.  Similarly, if you think the pulled sugar sculptures in Kings of Pastry were awesome and you would display most of them in your living room, well then, this is also for you.  If on the other hand you (as I) are more enamoured by the dogged loaf cake, be it a slice of Madeira cake embellished with a few glacé cherries or a slice of Matcha green tea cake with some chocolate chips running through it – then you might find La Pastisseria isn’t the best thing since sliced bread. Read more of this post

Forn La Llibreria, Traditional Bakery, Eixample

Forn La LlibreriaThere are many indistinct bakeries in Barcelona. Forn La Llibreria stands out from the bunch.  Because of the original design – sure – but mostly because they use stone ground flour and traditional baking methods.  Which means that your bread doesn’t transform into a doorstop 24 hours later.  And the crust is crunchy but there is also a chew to it – not just a shatter.

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Cafe El Magnifico, Coffee Roasters, El Born

Cafe El MagnificoThe other day, I was at Casa Ametller (which I know is a fruit and vegetable shop but still) and I ordered a coffee. Café con leche would do, whatever, I just needed the caffeine and fast. This is what happened; a gauze wrapped Novell pod was loaded into a machine, a switch – like a light switch – was flipped on and then the woman walked away to have a (long) chat with a colleague. What seemed like eons later, she returned, at that point I was on the counter peering into the cup trying to figure out if there was any room for milk. She then opened the fridge, took out some abomination tetrapak milk, the kind that I could put away and give to the twins for their graduation and it would still taste vaguely, like milk. She poured that 4ºC milk into my coffee. I thought: “well now my coffee is cold?”.
And then she put the whole thing into the microwave and zapped it for 40 seconds. Honest to god truth, this happened. Cafes el MagnificoCrazy!  That’s crazy right?  But here is the thing, the coffee culture here is largely, non-existent.  When I ask local friends, they point me in the direction of someplace that uses Illy. Read more of this post

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