Oh what a splendid week I had revisiting Barcelona catching up with many a lovely person. I had plenty of coffee dates with the girls and many delicious meals with my pal Kit, who enjoys eating just as much as I do and is always willing to keep me company if something good to eat is involved, hence his heavy involvement within this post and possible heavy weight gain thereafter.
Let me talk you through some of the fantastic places that I met with my lovelies... This first one is a secret as I have a special article coming that is totally dedicated to this wonderful little charm of Barcelona but please behold the mighty gin and tonic...
When in Barcelona, it is essential to pay a visit to Can Paixano Xampanyeria where the cava is cheap and the plates of food are in abundance. A glass of the bubbly pink stuff is just one euro and, as it as a requirement that you eat with your booze, you can't really refuse some cheese and ham now can you?
If cheese and ham aren't your thing, why not try some dumpling dim sum fun times at Mosquito? Softly lit and perfectly priced, we filled our table with deliciousness and dived in to share the moist, sumptuous dumplings and a hushed, cosy conversation amongs our party of five.
Burgers are big business in Barcelona and there are plenty of places serving up meaty treats including Pim Pam and Kiosko of El Born. If you're in the Raval, however, one of the best places has to be Betty Ford's on my favourite street and former home, Carrer de Joaquin Costa. The staff here are young and beautiful, the clientele equally as dashing and the burgers? Bloody scrumptious.
If you enjoy brunch, you're bound to have heard of Picnic, near Arc de Triomf. By the light of day they serve up tantalising midday fare but by the languishing light of the late afternoon? Why, vermouth and jazz of course!
And speaking of vermouth, if you're looking for a place with ambience and oodles of history (this bar has been running since 1860) then Casa Almirall is just the ticket. Only moments from the MACBA, you can enjoy a glass of house vermouth, known as an 'olivetta', complete with soda siphon to add bubbles to your beverage. The perfect post-burger digestif.
Vermouth is actually kind of a big deal in the city. My other favourite places include Vinito, Federal and the newly opened Els Sortidors del Parlament. The coffee at Federal is also delicious, made with fresh milk and a cosy atmosphere and you'll find great priced wines at Els Sortidors. The good news is that all three of these places reside on Carrer de Parlament, a street brimming with independent shops and cafes.
If you follow this blog, you'll remember I wrote an article about a place by the name of Caravelle (around the corner from La Boqueria Market) just after it had opened. I'm pleased to announce that the cafe has gone from strength to strength and are still serving up great breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I went with my dear friend Lali and we feasted on artichoke bruschetta and the homemade sausages served on a rich bed of white beans. A visit was also paid on a late evening and many a vermouth were supped. The cafe was bustling and vibrant and the service sweet.
Speaking of bustling and vibrant, I finally got the chance to go to NAP Pizza near to the Catarina Market where they are reported to have the best pizza in town. It is wise to arrive at opening time to avoid disappointment. See below as Kit lovingly lubricates his pizza with lashings of chilli oil. Cooked in a giant, wood-burning oven, the pizzas are thin and crispy and topped to perfection.
My time in Barcelona was awfully bittersweet- a heady mixture of pleasure and the dawning realisation of a few things that needed working through and pounding out on the winding streets. Either way, my love for the city has only flourished and in the coming weeks I only hope to share more and more with you that I hope you will enjoy reading as much as I did researching. Barcelona lovers, WATCH THIS SPACE.