Thursday, 9 February 2017

Barcelona January 2017

Silver Birch in January

We have "polar air" insists every swaddled Barcelonian we speak to.  It's mid-January and we were promised 15C but now the daytime temperature is hovering around 5C and it is shocking the locals. The skies are blue, there are oranges on the trees, few tourists, and it's warmer than London so we have no complaints.  We are regular visitors to Barcelona, so I've put links to previous posts at the bottom of this piece.  Let's dive in.

Croissant de mazapán
from Pasteleria Hofmann, Barcelona

First stop is Nomad Coffee to fuel-up on their Rwandan Muyongwe, a Bourbon varietal offering flavours of peach, caramel and lime.  I'm mentioning Nomad not for the first time but this remains, for me, the best coffee roaster in Barcelona. There are now three locations, two open Monday-Friday and the latest, in Raval, Every Day.  The original, Coffee lab & Shop in El Born, has the not insignificant added attraction of Pasteleria Hofmann being only a 5 minute walk away, close to Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar and Parc Ciutadella.  Happily you are welcome to eat your croissant de mazapán (my choice) with your coffee at Nomad.  The Roasters' Home is in Poblenou where you can pick up a take-away.  Satan's Coffee Corner  in the Barri Gotic still retains my affection, and they serve good, freshly made light lunch dishes with an Asian influence too.

Bunyols de Bacalla
at Perello, Mercat de Ninot, Barcelona

What to do when you arrive too late for lunch?  Head for a food market, of which there are more than 40 in Barcelona.  There is the Boqueria, of course, but there is also the recently renovated Mercat del Ninot, on Carrer del Mallorca in Eixample Esquerra.  If you appreciate bacalla, Perello is an excellent stall to head for.  Have the Bunyols de Bacalla (little fried fritters) for sure.  We followed with a good Bacalla Omelette and a dish of Ou amb Moixama (egg, dried tuna and potatoes)  and finished with a Feran Adria style featherlight aerated Crema Catalana. There is plenty of choice in Mercat del Ninot, including Morales Xarcuteria, Carnisseria i Aviram for steaks and Catalan meat dishes.  Mercat Santa Caterina in El Born and Mercat de la Llibertat in Gracia are the other markets I would head to.

Bar Zim

It's surprisingly easy to go wrong when it comes to wine and tapas in Barcelona.  While we did try a couple of new (to us) bars, I still find the best place to start your night is in Barri Gotic at Bar Zim.  The link I've given, whilst a few years old, still applies well to this simple, perfect little bar.  It's bursting at the seams with 12 people in it, so don't tell too many people about it.

Torta del Casar with chestnuts and honey
at Quimet y Quimet, Barcelona

Everyone will tell you to go to El Poble Sec for drinks and tapas at Quimet y Quimet, and I completely agree.  The  various montaditos are exquisite and, much as I enjoy the wines, the house beer is like amber nectar.


And still there is Pa amb tomàquet with Anxova and fried Pescaditos at Bar La Plata in the Barri Gotic.  And Bar Brutal/Can Cisa in Born - La Ribera for natural wines (and food) of course.  I did, this time, make it to El Vaso de Oro in Barceloneta  It's a good place for a beer, I guess, but I don't really get it. Yes, I have failed to mention lots of places you might expect, but the ones I have here are what I needed on this visit.

Fish of the day (Corvina family)
at Monocrom, Barcelona

I probably can live on tapas but I must mention a restaurant or two and on this visit we found Monocrom, a restaurant which opened 6 months ago in the residential neighbourhood of Sant Gervasi-Galvany.  It's friendly and relaxed, they source their ingredients with a lot of care and 80% of the wines are natural.  A platter of out-of-the-ordinary sliced meats and sausage and Pa am Tomaquet started us off.  Fish of the day, when we visited, was a member of the Corvina family, filleted and simply cooked with tomatoes, fennel and saffron.  A dish of Costella de Porc came as a melting roast belly pork with an Agrodolce sauce, carrots and glazed onions.  The selection of Spanish cheeses were all new to me and included Lazana, Gamoneu and Casin from the Asturias, Extramuros from Castellón and Luna Rosa from Ávila served with a basket of the finest Carta de Musica bread.  There is a lot to admire here in food, wine and service.  Expect to pay around Euros 40 per head including drinks.  It's early days but definitely one to return to.  Cal Pep in el Born continues to please but eating at the bar, rather than the back room, will always deliver the best experience here.

Door in El Born

Next up, food shops.  Casa Vives at Rambla de Catalunya 58 in Eixample (and at Carrer de Sants 74) is a traditional style pasteleria.  Good for cakes, chocolates, delicious Empanadas and light as air Bunyols (Lenten doughnuts).  Forn Baluard, sits across the road from Mercat Barceloneta. You can pick up decent breads and bakery here.  They also have the bakery at Praktik Hotel at Calle Provenca 279.  Formatgeria la Seu in the Barri Gotic is the place to go if you want to choose from a carefully curated range of Spanish cheeses.  For Torrons of all kinds go to La Campana on Calle Princessa in El Born.  I ought to mention, again, Pasteleria Hofmann here as I'd hate you to miss it. 

Hivernacle (Winter Garden)
Parc Ciutadella, Barcelona

It's hard to tell someone else what to see but here goes.  All the Gaudi architecture you can possibly take in.  Museu Picasso in El Born.  The Museu Maritim in the former shipyard of the Drasannes at the lower end of the Rambla. The Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Parc de Montjuic (Metro: Espanya).  Parc Ciutadella including the wonderfully neglected Hivernacle (Winer Garden) and the Umbracle (unglazed wooden greenhouse for shade loving tropical plants).


One place I didn't get to visit that sounds interesting was Vila Viniteca - Gastronomia in el Born for cured meats, cheese and wines to eat in or take home.  Next time for me but you might want to take a look.  

Now, go before the tourists beat you to it.  Take a scarf just in case the "polar air" comes too.

Links to earlier posts:

Barcelona January 2016

Barcelona Spring 2015