Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Barcelona January 2016

Catalan facade

Barcelona at the end of January?  A bit of a risk we thought.  But if we were thinking that maybe other people were too, which meant it could be the perfect time to go.  And so it proved.  Four days of blue skies, warm sun and few tourists.  Bliss.  I've written about Barcelona more than once so rather than repeat myself too much, I've put a couple of links at the bottom of this post.  You may want to get to Barcelona 'rĂ pid', so here's a speedy roundup for you.

Nomad Coffee (Lab)

First up coffee (and food), which has  changed so much in Barcelona over the past couple of years.  Onna Coffee was on our radar on previous visits but we'd never actually sampled it at it's previous home in Poble Nou.  Bags dropped at the hotel, we headed to C/ de Santa Teresa 1, just above Passeo de Gracia where they have now put down roots specialising in roasting and serving Costa Rican coffees.  It's a great place to start and grab a little something to eat too.  The Polenta, honey and rosemary cake was very good.
Satan's Coffee Corner proved as good and welcoming as ever.  On previous visits it's been hellish to find in the maze of narrow Barri Gotic streets but this time instinct took over and we wondered why we'd ever had problems.  The coffee is really good and the simple Asian-influenced food is freshly made, beautifully served and delicious.
But, as ever over the past couple of years, the one we returned to again and again on this visit was Nomad Coffee.  There is so much to love about their 'Lab' on Pasatge de Sert 12, and I've expressed my own before.  Set in a peaceful, dreamy passageway in El Born, it's a space I feel very much at home in.  They now also have a beautiful, understated 'Roaster's Home' at Carrer Pujades 95 in Poble Nou.

Lunch at Satan's Coffee Corner

For more on coffee in Barcelona, and beyond, I recommend 

Pescaditos at La Plata

Next up Food and Drink.  Bar Zim is a tiny, perfect little bar at Carrer Dagueria 20 in Barri Gotic serving just a few good wines with small plates of Sobrasada-smothered toasted bread and plates of excellent Spanish cheeses from Formatgeria la Seu a couple of doors down.  Very simple and just perfect, I think.
Quimet y Quimet opened in 1913  and a 'must' for any Barcelona visit
Bar la Plata is a tiny placed tucked away behind Passeig de Colom at the bottom of the Barri Gotic.  Another very simple set-up offering wines and beers along with very good fried Pescaditos and Pan con Tomate with anchovies.
Can Paixano proved to be a good pit-stop for a glass or two of decent, well-priced Cava.  The food came recommended but maybe it was a little early for us as we just weren't hungry enough to eat here.  A good place to get a speedy breakfast, I'm told.
We didn't go to Bar Brutal/Can Cisa at El Born's Princesa 14 on this visit but it's a good place to head if you're looking for natural wines.  Just round the corner is L'Anima del Vi serving good, well priced, natural wines and bought-in quality canned fish, pates and rillettes - I just wish you didn't have to bring your own atmosphere.
MONVINIC is often on our schedule for its excellent, and huge, wine list and great value Menu del Dia.  I've got to say the food wasn't quite up to par on this visit.

Two places I definitely want to check out next time: La Cova Fumada and El Vaso de Oro, both are in Barceloneta.

Pescaditos at Mercat Barceloneta 

There are some 40 Food Markets in Barcelona and I'm gradually working my way around them.  There's the best known, Boqueria Market, of course, which for history and atmosphere is a must - at least once.  New ones explored on this trip were the Abaceria Central in Gracia which started life serving a close-knit working class community; Mercat Poble Nou serving a mixed neighbourhood of long-time residents and incomers to this up and coming area; Mercat Barceloneta was the liveliest of the three.  And markets I always love to check out are Mercat de la Llibertat in Gracia and Mercat Santa Caterina in El Born.

Almond pastries at Pasteleria Hofmann

Food Shops I recommend include Pasteleria Hofmann at Carrer des Flassaders 44 in El Born which never lets me down.  Buying an almond pastry and wandering over to the nearby Parc de la Ciutadella to eat it is one of life's great pleasures. The Kouign Amann and lemon cake (which came back to London with us) are also some of the best ever.
Casa Vives at Rambla de Catalunya 58 (and Carrer de Sants 74) is still my favourite traditional style pasteleria in Barcelona for cakes, chocolates, delicious Empanadas and light as air Bunyols (Lenten doughnuts).
Baluard Bakery is a much-lauded bakery opposite Mercat Barceloneta.  The bread looked great but time was running out for us and we weren't able to sample any of the bakes.  One to revisit when we have more time perhaps.  Baluard also have the bakery at Praktik Hotel at Calle Provenca 279.

Antoni Gaudi's Casa Battlo

There are so many 'Sights' to be seen in Barcelona but Gaudi never fails to appeal and soon there will be another Gaudi building to enjoy.  The scaffolding is up at Casa VicensCarrer de les Carolines 24 (Metro: Fantana).  Until recently in private hands, there are plans to open Casa Vicens to the public in 2016 but our visit suggested it might be rather later.

Silver Birch in Parc de la Ciutadella

You might also want to read:

Barcelona Spring 2015

Barcelona Spring 2012