Brunch at Espacio 88

SKye Coffee Espacio 88My sister was visiting me from London last weekend and it coincided with a weekend of fun events in Barcelona. A pop up brunch at Espacio 88, the 2nd Eat Street by BCNmes and a weekend of open artist studios in Gracia and Poble Nou.  My perfect day begins with a great coffee so the two of us were there, cup in hand by 10:30 a.m.  I had a bagel from the guys at Cloud Street Bakery, split down the middle with two fat slices of foie gras, a drizzle of maple syrup and a fried egg, topped with shaggy rocket and some crumbs of briny feta cheese.

Foie gras, fried egg, maple syrup bagel 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

Espai Kru, modern fish with emphasis on raw fish & seafood, Poble Sec

Espai KruWe’ve had three consecutive weekends of friends visiting. After 7 months in Barcelona, we know where to take visitors.  Still, Easter weekend proved a challenge, the city was practically boiling over with visitors and yet many places were closed.  Including the crown jewels in the Albert Adria crown (Tickets, Pakta, 41º Experience & Bodega 1900). Which left the places without the pictures on the Bcn 5.0 website – the ones missing personalised social media buttons; Rias de Galicias (fish restaurant), Espai Kru (modern fish with emphasis on raw fish & seafood), Casa de Tapes.  Long winded introduction – true – but I am fascinated by the marketing.  (Why do the latter 3 fall in a different category with less promotion than the former?)Bread with tomato, croquetas, superlative grapefruit juice, Espai KruOn my last visit to Pakta, the waitress had enthusiastically recommended Espai Kru to me: a la carte instead of Prix Fix, laid back with delicious food. Espai Kru it was, a table for two, for lunch on Saturday. And then we got there.  We climbed the stairs up to the first floor where we were confronted with a big, glossy poster advertising a Range Rover. Martini branding in Bodega 1900 – it works – but Range Rover? And then there was the music. 3 songs in we started wondering if the staff had left their own music playing by accident?  I asked our waitress, Anna (the best waitress I’ve had in 10 years) if what we were listening to was the restaurant playlist (tunes like Bonny M’s Sunny, September from Earth Wind and Fire, Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody) – perplexed she answered yes.Deep Fried Turbot / Rodaballo Frito After a glass of the fantastic Blue Fin Mestres Cava it all started to make sense, the poster, the music, the friendly waitress. What is often missing in these big name restaurants is silliness, humor, getting some things wrong – like having a big Range Rover poster to greet guests. Read more of this post

Barcelona Cooking, Cooking Class, Las Ramblas

Barcelona CookingI lived in Paris for 4 years and never went to the top of the Eiffel tower, 13 years in London- I never saw the changing of the guard. Because you don’t, do you? I live in Paella land now but it’s so much a part of daily life here that it’s already been relegated to familiar and uninteresting without me knowing anything about it.  So it’s surprising to find myself really caring about the origins of Paella and snorting out loud at the comedy act that is our teacher chef Javier Morón Uceda at Barcelona Cooking.  “If the rice does not sing, if it does not do this…” claps his hands and cheers enthusiastically “when the liquid hits the pan, stop the paella, start stirring and you will make an excellent risotto – instead of a mediocre paella.”  Javier is full of these one liners. About ham he advises us not to go for the most expensive one and assume it’s the best because “like everything in this life, the best is the one you like.”

Xavier telling us about La BoqueriaIf you take the morning class at Barcelona Cooking, it starts off with a trip to the Boqueria to buy the ingredients for the day. Javier excitedly points out the 3 essential dried peppers to Catalan food (Pebrot “Choricero”, Nyores & Guindilla Picant).  He recounts, as we gather round the salted cod stand, how his great grandmother used to give him a piece of salted cod (with the salt flakes very much still on) and an orange for his merenda every day, “I would take a bite of one and then the other.” he rolls his eyes heavenward with pleasure at the memory.  He tells us how if you cook cocochas (hake chin) at 80ºC and swirl it around ever so gently, you release the gelatin and are left with a dish that has a velvety mouthfeel.  Read more of this post

Bar Lobo, Fusion, El Raval

Bar LoboThe Tragaluz Group is a name that you need to know in Barcelona.  I will readily admit that restaurant groups in Europe can conjure negative associations: laminated menus in 7 languages, busking waiters impeding your journey, iceberg lettuce and shredded carrot in the salad – it’s not pretty or tasty. While the Tragaluz restaurants do have menus in 5 languages – they also have great locations, appealing design and food that is usually good if on the pricy side.  Unlike the Albert Adria restaurants, they are spread all over the city so you are usually not far from one.

Our lunch at Bar LoboWith Marguerite in town for the weekend, we duck off the tacky Ramblas as fast as we can, onto C/ Pintor Fortuny stopping for a brief minute in Chök to appease my daughter with a chocolate donut before continuing.  Bar Lobo does market fresh tapas and some main dishes.  We select 5 tapas.  Some for flavour: like the fried eggplant (€6.50), the tuna tataki with guacamole (€8.65) and the artichokes with jamon (€8.00).  Others for bulk and to temper the bill to a more acceptable level- patatas bravas (€4.50) and padron peppers (€5.60).  Two coca colas brings the bill to €20 a head which is quite an accomplishment for Barcelona (it’s so much more expensive here than in Berlin). Read more of this post

Eat Street, Street Food, Poble Sec

L1103226Yesterday I went to the inaugural ‘street food festival’ organised by BCN Mes and held at CREC in Poble Sec. The reason I am using inverted comas is that the majority of the food stands have a bricks and mortar location in Barcelona.  Which is unlike street food at say Broadway Market (London) or Street Food Thursday (Berlin). All this is relevant because the line of people waiting to get into Eat Street is 3 people wide and two blocks deep (Barcelona blocks are big). It’s epic.L1103221Which is what I am thinking when I approach the girl with the worst job in the world (explaining to the sweaty hungry people that “No, she can’t let them in because there is a crowd control issue.”) I’ve got two hours before the twins are up from their afternoon nap, tentatively I explain that I write a blog and could I please get in to take some pictures? “Press was at 13:30.” she turns away. I bite my lip and hover a moment until an actual photographer turns up, towering above the both of us, pointing his massive lens menacingly at her and waving his press card – “your choice, let me in or you don’t get covered.” He’s obnoxious, he wears her down, I duck in behind him.
Eat StreetAnd so it is, sometimes another person’s hard time is another’s lucky break. Good thing too. I am amazed at the turn out. At how ready everyone seems to be for something just like this. And why wouldn’t they be, everyone else has been doing the food truck thing for ages?  (I get the impression that setting up a food truck or a temporary stand at one of the many markets may be difficult?  And perhaps the food culture in Barcelona is too ingrained compared to that of Berlin which in the last few years has exploded in the most impressive way?) Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,042 other followers