If translated from Catalan, Bar-cel-ona literally means ‘bar, sky, wave’. Not an inaccurate name for a city that is well known for its bar culture, excellent weather and its location right on the edge of the Mediterranean sea. With these three ingredients as the core of their recipe, mb! Magazine cooks up a day of exploring the cities most delectable culinary offers.
The first stop takes us to Cloudstreet Bakery, a tiny but remarkably charming bake shop equipped with a massive wood fired oven from 1926, restored to its former beauty by its current owners. The taste of their bread – almost entirely made with organic flours – is decidedly smoky, and their catalan-french-australian influenced pastries make this place a true gem in the Eixample neighbourhood.
It’s almost noon when we head to our next destination, which translates to vermouth o’clock in our food-centric schedule. Over the last years, this quintessentially catalan midday ritual, which dates back to the early 20th century, has seen a resurgence among young –and not so young- people, resulting in mass Sunday noon pilgrimages to the citie’s most popular ‘vermuterías’.
Our bar of choice is located in the Sarrià-Sant Gervasi neighbourhood. In this rather swanky part of the city, hidden away in a sidestreet, Mitja Vida opened its doors in 2012, following the success of the owner’s first venture, Morro Fi, that was created as a brick and mortar extension of their homonymous blog, a platform for reviewing the local restaurant and bar scene.
For lunch, we head towards the city centre. Disregarding of its name – Bar Mut, a pun on ‘vermut’ – it is in many ways the opposite of the vermutería we just left. At first glance, it looks like a classic wine and tapas bar, with its black awning, marble counters, and walls lined with wine bottles, but the chef’s modern take on traditional dishes is what really sets it apart.
We start with a warm spinach, walnut and fig salad, placed over a melted piece of ‘Torta del Casar’, a cheese made from raw sheep’s milk, produced exclusively in the Extremadura region. Our next dish, ‘Carpaccio d’ou ferrat’, is based on the classic hangover dish ‘Ous ferrats’, meaning sunny side up eggs, scrambled over french fries.
We head towards the Gothic Quarter. Passing a large number of medieval buildings, and an even larger number of tourists, we arrive at Banys Nous, a narrow alley that will provide the particular kind of afternoon snack, or “merienda”, that we are looking for. Number 8 hosts a shop that is as straightforward and unadorned as its name: Xurreria dels Banys Nous.
Inside, carefully arranged piles of various fried goods are waiting for sweet-toothed customers, but the one tray that is always empty gives a clear sign of what people come here to buy. Churros, a tube-shaped fried choux pastry dipped in sugar, are usually eaten for breakfast, together with a cup of thick, hot chocolate.
We leave with a paper bag full of fresh churros, but don’t go far – only a couple of houses down the street, La Granja lures us with its impressive art nouveau door and promises of hot chocolate. BYOC – bring your own churros – is an unspoken agreement at this café dating back to 1872, which used to be a dairy and boasts remains of the Roman wall in the backroom.
En route towards a much less crowded scenery, we drive up the Montjuic mountain, rising over the commercial harbour and home to many hidden parks and gardens.
Among them, mostly disregarded by Barcelona’s inhabitats, are the spectacular Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera, one of Europe’s largest cactus and succulent gardens. A walk through this unique landscape reveals species from as far as South Africa, Mexico, California, Australia, the Caribbean and South America.
To discover more tasty food spots in Barcelona, head over to mb! Magazine