Cloudstreet, Micro bakery, L’Esquerra de L’Eixample

Cloudstreet BakeryOne of the reasons I find food interesting is that the people behind food can be so engrossing.  And there is the added bonus that they are a lot more accessible than say a gallery curator or fashion designer. With food as a subject, a conversation with a stranger can erupt and gallop away with an afternoon.  Where you come from – where they come from, it doesn’t matter.  You are speaking the same language (even if some of the time you don’t speak the same language).   The bread baking equation written on the tiles at CloudstreetCloudstreet had been on my radar ever since the brunch they co-hosted with Skye Coffee at Espacio 88.   Yesterday I set out to find their shop.

Initially I walk right past them because it simply says Forn de Pa in old-fashioned lettering.  I double back and take a closer look at the window display, it’s obvious then that this is what I am looking for.  Tonatiuh (one of the bakers at Cloudstreet), with whom I have an instant affinity, explains that they bought the bakery from the original owner.  The former owner is in his 70’s now and was born in a small room over the 100-year-old wood burning ovens  that Cloudstreet have gratefully inherited. 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

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

Somewhere, Cafe, Sant Cugat del Vallès

Somewhere CafeMy Jordanian father once told me a story; we were visiting Vienna when I was a toddler and we were refused service at a restaurant because of me. Because I was a child. “But there is a dog in here!” he protested (Remember I said he is Jordanian, so letting in a dog and not a child is kind of carazy!). “Yes, dogs are allowed. Children are not.” Discussion closed.  Although children at mealtimes can still be a contentious issue in Northern Europe, in Southern Europe and Spain in particular it’s no big deal.  Where are your children supposed to be if not with you?  And no, you are not expected to wait until they are 18 before going out to eat.  Which means there isn’t really this niche of “children friendly” restaurants.  All people, of all sizes and ages are welcome in all restaurants.

SomewhereEvery now and then though, there is a place that makes special accommodations for little people.  Like Somewhere Cafe in San Cugat.  They’ve gone ahead and made a small corridor full of windows and stacked with colouring print outs and tubs of crayons.  From the moment I walked in with all my three, that’s where they remained.  Poking their faces through the windows when they needed to be fed before getting back to the business of colouring in. Read more of this post

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

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.  

Coffee at Caravelle Read more of this post

Brunch & Cake, Eixample

IMG_5234My first impression of Barcelona was that there were so many cafes, delis, bars and restaurants that you would have to be a fool to consider entering the local food and beverage market. But now that the dust has settled on my move and (most of) the boxes have been unpacked, I am retracting that sentence.  The bars with neat rows of tapas are endless, the paellas, the plates of fideua are everywhere.  Good coffee?  Non-existent (seriously, I have identified 6 shops in Barcelona that use La Marzocco coffee machines (their official distributor for Spain is a company called Coffee People and they list all their clients).  Breakfast places? The ones that do an epic layout a la what I was used to in Berlin, not so much.Brunch and CakeSo I am not at all surprised by the cluster of people I always see outside Brunch and Cake (who are one of the 6 to have a Marzocco).  Their breakfasts are American style and then some.  A perilous tower of pancakes.  A wedge of cake, thick as a dictionary.  The so-called bagel turns out to be the size of my (Smart car’s) steering wheel.  There is also a leaning towards the strange combinations that are widely accepted in the US.  My poached eggs on waffles for instance comes on sweet waffles, with hollandaise sauce – it’s really too weird for me.  And I have always struggled with overly large portions of food, finding myself feeling bloated and defeated before I have even started eating. Read more of this post

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