Cuines Santa Caterina, Mostly Spanish with some Asian, Barri Gòtic

Cuines Santa CaterinaMy friend Giulia and her family were in town a couple of weeks back.  I whizzed them through some of the best streets in Barcelona, with a snack in mind for practically every street.  Regardless, when it was lunch time, we were all famished.  I quickly decided on our spot – a quick tour beneath the stunning undulating roof of Santa Caterina Market and then we would grab a table at Cuines Santa Caterina (From the Tragaluz group).IMG_5980 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

La Guingueta, Chirringuito, Barceloneta

La GuinguetaBon Appetit did a small Barcelona feature in it’s May edition. I was delighted to see that I have hit most of their recommended spots (so this blog’s move to Spain is starting to get somewhere).  And then I read about how Carles Abellan – whose Tapas 24 I love (and posh restaurant Comerç 24 I visited for my last birthday), has a Chirringuito. And, and… He serves ice cream from Rocambolesc. Which is great because until now, I had been planning to travel to Girona for the day to try it.
The view - and the W is there tooYou can see the W hotel from La Guingueta.  The waiters are dressed in identical nautical themed shirts, enough of them have tattoos and patches of hair shaved off in weird places for it to seem a conscious part of the look.  I recognise 2 waiters from Tapas 24, one seems to have been promoted to manager, a charismatic girl with strange zig zagging hair cuts, who once whisked me to the front of the line at 24 when she realised that I was dining alone.The GuacamoleThe menu is made up of things between bread, slightly unusual (for Barcelona) things like chicken burgers, fresh pressed juices (€6) and guacamole (€12) or nachos.  The pricing is – well I find myself thinking, I can see the W but does that mean I have to pay W prices? 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

My Organic Garden

My organic gardenMy splurge for 2013/2014 was an organic garden. I’ve wanted a working vegetable garden for roughly 20 years but I have always lived in an apartment. Now, encouraged by having 3 children, we finally moved into a house with a garden – clad in Astroturf. Not my choice but as it’s a rental that is how it will remain. A few months ago, I received a flyer from Garden Ambrosia for an organic garden scheme. It pictured a family with broad smiles and misshapen vegetables.

I went for it. A friend of mine derided me openly. “What? You are going to pay someone to do it?”

Courgette and tomatoesYes, I am paying someone to do it. I’ve wastefully blundered through attempts at balcony container gardening for ages. Buying books. Lugging 20 liter bags of soil through the house. Managing only to grow a handful of strawberries (usually picked off by the birds) and some tomatoes with inedible skin.

It turned out the happy family on the brochure belonged to Derwent whom I invited to scope out the garden.  Despite our garden being large, the only suitable sunny spot we could find was the gravel driveway (I had also always dreamed of a gravel driveway arrivals and departures accompanied by a crunch crunch crunch noise). Some of it was sacrificed (reversing into it is now a lip biting experience). As the soil was poor, Derwent set about constructing a raised bed and bringing the soil, the manure and the ah – volcanic ash – to me. He told me that a healthy plant needs 98 elements (or was it 89? Everything went blank when he mentioned the periodic table) and volcanic ash is just the ticket.

Twins admiring the gardenWhen I complained that the slugs were turning my lettuces into green doilies he retorted that bugs taking up to 10% of a crop is fair and that the plants are healthy enough to take it. When the beetroot was ready to harvest, he cautioned me against throwing away the leaves and so we prepared them as the Greeks do, with garlic, olive oil and lemon. It was delicious. We have learned to eat plants nose to tail so to speak – whenever possible 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


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