FOODventures, TRAVELventures

In which I wax lyrical once more about Barcelona

I’m a little bit in love/obsessed with Barcelona. I keep going back and I keep needing to go back. Thankfully, I do have friends there making it way too easy to go back on a whim or maybe it’s simply the pull of the blue and orange tones of that beaut of a city that is just too much. Or maybe it’s the way of life? Beach, food, music and friends, how can anyone say no?

I will move there, soon enough I’ll go there for a weekend and just decide to stay – it’s not unheard of…

ANYWAYS.

I was naughty…I didn’t take as many pictures of food as I had intended. In fact, I only really took a picture of one of my meals…it was damn good too. I think for the most part it was a sudden onset of shyness in being in such local places, and also in large part to a deep impatience to eat what’s in front of me. You know…don’t let your food get cold and all…important stuff.

Since there are not many pictures of food, I’ll just have to describe it because guys, you need to go. And you need to eat.

DO IT.

EL MUNDIAL

El Mundial for proper tapas and Catalan feel – it was my favourite of the trip too, I had aubregine chips with honey and they were just heaven in my mouth, along with some grilled clams in a white wine sauce type thing where the juices were just so good and thank god for bread to soak up! It was just super, I ate there three times in a week. Also get the pimentos de padron – they are lovely and salty and wonderful – you can get this anywhere and even do them at home (we found some in Waitrose – from Spain and it’s a a favourite snack in Casa Reyes) but it’s worth ordering, along with some chipirones – crunchy squid bits. Don’t be intimidated by the tentacles. DO IT. Its a narrow place with a long bar and marble tables to the side and genuinely just looks old school, reminded me of the kind of places my family used to drag me to as a kid. Quite frankly the opening hours are seemingly sporadic, I walked by it daily (often a few times a day since my friend lives next door) and sometimes it was open, and sometimes it was not, but maybe it was me who was sporadically walking by.

Plaza Sant Agusti Vell, 1, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

MOSQUITO
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Not spanish tapas BUT still a great place is Mosquito which does “exotic tapas” so dumplings and other delicious asian food like Pho and crispy friend duck amongst other things. The beautiful dumplings and amazing crispy duck breast with plum sauce were my favourite. So much so that I’m thinking about it right now and I actually physically miss it. If you do go, get the duck – it’s the 2nd option that’s 7.60 because they don’t specify it just says duck 1 and duck 2 (or if you get the catalan menu like my friend and I did and had to decipher what the hell was what -we learned that duck is Anec, so get the anec) Below is the menu in Catalan: feel free to just order the same, it was sexy.

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Also get the coconut tapioca for dessert, it was grand. There’s a great array of craft beer as well which is so nice to see – craft beer revolution is world wide, HOORAY. There’s always a queue as well but it goes quickly and its vastly worth it. Seriously. GO.

Carrer dels Carders, 46, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

ESPAI MESCLADIS
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Espai Mescladis is lovely for lunch – I had a great lentil soup and a chicken empanada and some artesian beer but what’s best is the actual space, it’s mostly inside a courtyard and good atmosphere – takes ages to order though so don’t go hungry. My lunch didn’t photograph well and I was pretty hungry, so again, apologies for lack of food pictures. However, the food is not the only attraction – it’s just such a lovely space worthy of just a glass of artesian cola or a coffee and a good book (I sat there for hours, but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves).

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Carrer dels Carders, 35, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

LA CANDELA
La Candela was also very lovely for a sit down dinner or lunch, I had a great white bean and tuna thing but their menu changes daily – they have a cute little narrow place but also some tables outside and the staff are pretty nice. I took my laptop there to work a few days and it became a firm favourite .
Placa de Sant Pere, 12, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

LA XANPANERIYA
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I’ve already told you about this. But to reiterate.

GO THERE, EAT THINGS & DRINK CAVA.
Carrer de la Reina Cristina

A little photo diary from the rest of my trip…because Barcelona is beautiful and I can’t get enough of it.

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TRAVELventures

Wham, bam, thank you ‘Dam!

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AMSTERDAM I LOVE YOU.

Not for the prossies, not for the hash, not for the other things everyone else seems to love you for.

I love you because you’re beautiful, because of krokets and bitterballen, because of all cats, because of the excellent apple tart, because you can WALK EVERYWHERE, because of the canals, and the fact that people just leave bikes everywhere and the trees and the brown cafes and ghluwien and the amazing bars and the cats in all of these places and the bikes and did I mention the krokets? Did I mention that the McDonalds had a MCKROKET?! (Why was I in McDonalds do you ask? Well too bad, I won’t tell. What is important is the MCKROKET AND IT WAS DELICIOUS AND I WISH THEY HAD THEM HERE)

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As per usual, it snowed – I was lovely and expected and made everything even more beautiful (unless of course you speak to me now about snow, in which case my stance has changed to GO AWAY SNOW NO BODY WANTS YOU ANYMORE.)

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KROKETS. My newest obsession. Very similar to the Spanish version of croquettas – a similar crunchy coating, and a lovely melty creamy inside – but with meats and a different flavour bechamel and a different type of crunch and with some chips and mustard and YUM. Go there, eat them! Bitterballen are the same delicious concept but tiny (like yours truly) and wonderful still. Go there, eat them too!

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There is something about the canals that that make the city infinitely more peaceful than if it was just a city I think – all of the lights, their reflections glittering along the water, the ripples from the boats, their endless bridges and paths, it really is truly beautiful. Not to mention the houses, THEY ARE WONDERFUL AND CROOKED AND BEAUTIFUL.

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It took all of 5 minutes to fall in love with Amsterdam, admittedly I was a little bit skeptical as we walked from the train station to the hostel – the center of Amsterdam and its well known red lights and interesting shops with their interesting goods was not the best of impressions, but the cobbled streets, the beautiful buildings and five minutes to reach a new road and the city is transformed again to something infinitely classier, its SO GOOD. I love how easy it is to just walk around to other parts of the city with its crazy wonderful joys including but not limited to the strange church in the middle of the redlight district housing a contemporary art exhibition. Can you tell I’m a little bit infatuated? No, well then let me go on. Call this my coffee cart moment (one hundred points to those who got the reference!)

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I would describe Amsterdam to have the best of London and more – everything that I like in London, the cute vintage boutiques, the cafe’s-come shops-come late night drinking establishments (yes DrinkShopDo, I’m looking at you, and I’ve found your superior cousin baby but I still love you forever) which are also known as “brown cafes”, all of the great and wonderful museums (I’m looking at you Amsterdam Museum, YOU WERE AWESOME. all you others, I couldn’t afford you/you were closed/half closed – yeah rijksmuseum – so can’t judge you, but if the other museum is a reflection on all of you, then I’m sure you are also great! one problem, NOT FREE but worth every penny at the Amsterdam museum FOR SURE) the history, cobbled streets, excellent eating and drinking establishments, REALLY good coffee and very good quiche. Also, Krokets. I’m a girl obessed. Also, the Anne Frank Museum, which at its most touching, is actually at night when it is illuminated and you think about how it must have been inside and after having seen it, read it and walked through it, it is the part that really had an effect.

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Lets retrace back to the Brown Cafes – I loved them, cosy and nice with the option to drink coffee or beer or gluhwine or all three with a piece of cake was  my favourite thing to do – I could live in one, best thing about them? THERE WAS ALWAYS A CAT RESIDENT.How good is that? CATS IN THE CAFÉ. Loved it. Cats seemed to be a thing, which is pretty awesome. I love cats, they love cats, we’re match made in heaven. Also, fresh mint tea. Perfect.

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Would I go again? What do you think? The answer is OBVIOUSLY. I wish I lived there – anyone in publishing/magazines in Amsterdam want to hire me? I will work for korkets and drinks (and a bed)

RUTH’S AMSTERDAM TOP 7:

(disclaimer: I am by no means an expert on Amsterdam life, these are my own opinions from the one trip I took there – when I revisit, because I WILL revisit, I will see more and probably have to make a top one million by that point because I LOVE AMSTERDAM its my Barcelona to my Vicky Christina.)

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Café Langeries: AH CUTE. Another café with a resident cat. One of those famous ‘brown cafes” come nice bar with couches and nice tables and books and board games and most importantly a cute cat and ghluwine AND delicious hot chocolate AND amazing chocolate cake. It was heaving by the time we left. And there was a cat if I didn’t mention that before.

http://cafelangereis.com/

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Het Café Paleis: The Guardian recommended this if I ever had doubts of the their recommendations they are now considered void (although in fairness I think I always had faith in their taste).  This was a brilliant little place in one of my favourite corners of Amsterdam – very near the Anne Frank house and generally just a nice area with some brilliant apple tart and some delicious coffee.

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De Taarte van m’n Tante: kitchest place I have ever seen in my life. Everything is pink and weird and fun and wonderful and the cake (or apple tart as we sampled) was top notch, and if I were to live there one day I would want one of these cakes for my birthday, the tea was pretty nice too! They also have a  bed and breakfast which is sweet (geddit?! SWEET? CAKE?!)

http://www.detaart.com/

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Café Latei: CUTE. And with a resident black cat. This is the DrinkShopDo superior that I mentioned earlier, a cat, interesting wares that were actually of a decent price that didn’t make me want to upchuck, also it was just the little bit quirkier, but maybe it was the cat that I liked most? Also, they had my favourite (seemingly very popular Amsterdam treat) fresh mint tea which is literally a bunch of mint and hot water – you can find a lesser version in Leon in the form of a mint steeper – but I don’t know if it’s the mint quality or the water but its just not as good also much more expensive)

http://www.latei.net/

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Golden Dragon:  Yes, a Chinese food establishment on the street where there are about six million Argentinian beef establishments and a few more Chinese ones (one Argentinian beef places being the original CAU, which opened recently in ol’ Cambridge) This is on my list because it was great – the best effing spring rolls if ever eaten in my life and I have eaten A LOT of delicious spring rolls and food including the world famous Nan King in San Francisco, California (which, by the way, is AMAZE, go there and eat as well. The calamari are God’s gift to us and we must indulge) but yes, I digress – its great Chinese and some Indonesian but definitely get those spring rolls and wonton soup, you wont regret it, it was genuinely beautiful.

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Café Brecht : cosy, crowded haphazard and glorious, this little bit of Germany in Amsterdam really had a wonderful atmosphere from the people behind the bar with genuine smiles and singing along to the songs playing to the chitter chatter of the people drinking their beer and gluhwine and lovely cocktails (myself and my friend drank some lovely as ghluwine and an Aperol Spritz, which felt really appropriate for the bar). They also had pretzels. I love pretzels (see the post below about Munich if you don’t know)

http://www.cafebrecht.nl/

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De Bakkerswinkel: Best coffee in Amsterdam for SURE best coffee I’ve had in a while as well, beautiful lattes to trump all the lattes I have had in my short life and even more beautiful (can you believe it?!) quiche with some delicious roasted root veggies) Also very friendly and I am willing to bet that everything else they had on offer had equal deliciousness.

http://www.debakkerswinkel.com/

So there you are, my love letter to Amsterdam.

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Amsterdam, I love you.

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