October 8, 2013 Leave a comment
October 2, 2013 5 Comments
Michelangelo purportedly said: “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to release it.” That is how I feel about discovering a new city. I know that my city is somewhere in there but I have to set about discovering it, teasing out the locals that will stand out for me.
In Berlin, I could set out onto its wide streets to discover it. Barcelona is infinitely more complex. It’s congested with independent shops and restaurants, the constantly new vying for attention with the old (take Can Culleretes , opened as a pastry shop in 1786 and still listed in Frommers with 3 stars). All this to say, I’ve been spending considerable time trawling the internet to pin down a starting point for my explorations.
That is how I found myself on Espai Sucre’s website. I didn’t think I could manage an evening sampling (no babysitter yet) their dessert only menu but – Hello? What’s this? An American Baking Course? Was my Spanish good enough? – My thought barely had a chance to form before it was abruptly (is there any other way?) interrupted by twin 1. I impulsively clicked “buy”.
On the day, I’m 15 minutes late (of course, I think this may be a genetic problem). I join the rest of the punctual group who are already immersed in the business of taking notes and asking questions. Our teacher, Betina Montagne, speaks rapidly and with visible passion. She is still excited by pastry after more than 20 years in the business and if you don’t believe it, the dangling cupcake earrings she wears bear further proof.
Before I’ve had a chance to cease perspiring (summer’s still going strong here, even at 8:30 in the morning) we are invited to the kitchens. Where an army of red Kitchen Aids man the counters. Betina asks us to turn our attention to the brownie recipe…and we are off! We are asked to double up with the person closest to us. My partner is Mirella, a girl from Barcelona who is studying to become a chef. She is vibrant and bubbly. If she is annoyed at being paired with the foreigner, she doesn’t show it, instead she gives me her apron when she notices I haven’t brought one and that in the war of cocoa powder and Suzy – the cocoa is winning.
September 25, 2013 6 Comments
How often do you find yourself in this situation: you’ve done a monster shop, been to the market, thumbed through the latest issue of Bon Appetit and watched some food program on your BBCiPlayer when hunger pops by and says – “So hey, what’s for lunch?” There is no urgency at first but then the purring turns to growling before you know it, all your cupboard doors gape open, full to splitting point and you have no idea what to eat.
I bet that has never happened to any of the ladies working the cold tapas bar at Quimet & Quimet. Not one single time.
No, these ladies (I count 4), wedged neatly between a narrow bar and a towering shelf of canned goods and bottles, pass out plate after plate of enticing tapa and montaditos (something like an hors d’oeuvres on bread but way too big to manage in one or two bites) which are seemingly conjured from thin air. Sure, there is a glass fronted cabinet with all manner of sea things but where are the chefs doing the assembling?
September 23, 2013 17 Comments
Right now, the proverbial deer and I have a lot more in common besides our big brown eyes. After spending three years complaining that there is nothing to eat but chicken and mince I am now at a loss for words (and recipes). Catalunya is rich beyond anything I’ve ever seen. The variety of food, be it from land or sea, is astonishing and bewildering.
Everyone knows about the Boqueira Market in Barcelona but I find that easing myself gently into, say, the Public Market of Vilanova is a good start. To begin with, it is entirely made up of the local population, most of whom will only converse in Catalan. There is an elderly woman with long white hair pinned up in a loose chignon selling Cava, tomatoes and green beans. I buy 5 of her bruised ugly tomatoes, confident that they will prove to be the best I’ve had all summer (they are) and all the while she rattles on in Catalan and calls me ‘nena‘ (girl child). The effect of which is momentarily transformative. For almost five years now, I’ve been a mother. My mind is resolutely practical, entirely unflappable, with an astounding amount of ‘fear not little one for here is an adult with a plan’ stowed away to be doled out with great generosity as my girls peel at that many layers of life. When this lovely Cava seller calls me child, I have a glimpse of my mind, uncluttered and wide open as it had been once upon a time when I was the little girl. Read more of this post
September 17, 2013 7 Comments
- Find school for oldest child √
- Find a home √
- Get a local number √
- Open a bank account √
- Get furniture over from Berlin – massive fail
- Find some time to eat out, rather than eating sandwiches for 3 meals a day – ditto (massive fail that is)
So some things have been working better than others. We found a house to live in but then somehow the movers can’t seem to get our furniture over to us until the middle of October. Consequently, I’ve re-entered negotiations with the agent of our short term rental.One can tell the Spanish were ruled by the Moors for 700 years because everything is a negotiation. That I paid the asking price on my short-term rental has been a matter of incredible hilarity among my acquaintances here. I am now trying to negotiate another 10 days, it would be funny were it not that my failure to get good results would mean the twins, Layla and I would camp out on a piece of left over AstroTurf (did I mention my new garden is clad in AstroTurf?) in our bigger-than-we -wanted-it living room.
If I ever feel like I am about to dabble my toes in the pool of self-pity at trying to manoeuvre this large move all by my lonesome (with my surely-by-now saintly mother), I take a moment to think about Elisabeth Luard. Elisabeth Luard who took to the cork forests of Andalusia with her 4 (*four*) children. And who when her husband, Nicholas, ran into a spot of trouble with their finances (prompting them to sell the family car) made do with a donkey.
September 6, 2013 25 Comments
I’ve moved to Spain. Permanently. (I think) I’ve been meaning to tell you but I didn’t know what to say because I’m not quite settled. The past year has seen me (and my 3, now completely exhausted and exhausting children) live in Berlin, London, Berlin, Dubai, Berlin, Amman and now Barcelona.
We are still living in rented accommodation with rented furniture while I hunt around for a house. The other day I showed up for my 12pm appointment and when I rang the real estate office to ask which shop number they were the woman had the temerity to ask me if I could come back at 1?
“No, I can’t because it’s 12 now and I’m here.”
“Ah ok, then just wait in the cafe next door until 12:45″ was the response.
Well the…I walked over to Engel and Völkers for some good old Teutonic reliability but they didn’t have much in the way of houses so…I just asked my short-term let landlady if this could be more of a long term thing.So what am I doing here? I’m shaking sand out of every conceivable crevice. No, the big picture is we thought it would be better for the kids. To grow up by the sea, learning Spanish and French.
I have to rename this blog. Suzy Eats is taken. But I could do Suzy Ate At. Out with Suzy. Or what about Suzy Has a Screw Loose and Needs to Stop Moving Her Kids or Else Face Monstrous Psychologist Bills in the Future? Too long, maybe? What about Curiosity and Satisfaction? Because this blog is all about me getting a hunger itch and scratching it, usually with good results.
And what about all of you that read Foodie in Berlin because it’s about Food in Berlin? Well, I hope you stick around to see what the food is like around here. I will post about Berlin but not as frequently as in the past. Remember, you really are spoilt for choice with blogs in Berlin. You have Sylee (Berlinreified) who I have said on countless occasions is the original blogger of Berlin. Luisa’s Berlin blog (Berlin on a Platter). There is Stil in Berlin, who seem to have taken a decisive move into food blogging. And finally Paul’s Slow Travel Berlin which is a wonderful portal into everything and everyone Berlin.
In the next weeks, I will be putting up the new blog design thanks to the wonderful Daisy Lumley. Sorting out the name and cleaning up my archives. And once I have child care sorted, I will be in Berlin, trying out and writing about everything I’ve missed in the few months I’ve been away.
August 19, 2013 9 Comments
It started on the first night, my husband and I went to meet my father for dinner somewhere, only for the two of us to be whisked off to the 2 Michelin starred Enoteca as my father grinned mischievously and waved us off “You two don’t spend any time alone together!” (It’s true, we rarely do. And I’ve read on all those blogs about the importance of date night but getting my roots done is equally important and I never get to do that either!)
At my insistence, while my husband stared wistfully at the listing of a simple plate of Jamon Iberico, we went for the tasting menu. (My reasoning being that it was better value.) The tasting menu was inspired by the Mediterranean so my husband suffered through quite a few for professional-gourmet-eaters’-only type of dishes. Like a mollusk injected with liquid so that it spurted impolitely when placed in the mouth, followed by what looked like a donut (yay!) but turned out to be filled with a warm reduction of shellfish (gah! even for me, that was challenging). After sitting through 8 courses of that, I looked at my husband, cheeks filled with bread as he tried to dull the vivid seafood impressions and thought, “Wow, this guy must really love me to sit through all this!”