Wednesday

4 hours in Barcelona: Foodie Tour

When was the last time you stayed up late only to regret it the next morning? As soon as I open my eyes on this sunny morning in El Born, the hipster area of Barcelona, I realise what a massive mistake I made with staying up late the previous night. But what should I have done? There was no way around it. I started eating and couldn’t stop, so it became late by accident. Never mind, I get over the initial shock, take a quick shower and jump into a taxi to drive the 4 kilometres to Passeig de Gràcia where I am about to meet the lovely Renée who is going to guide me through the neighbourhood of Gràcia. 

proudly Catalan

Renée
Its people, a mix of locals and immigrants are so very proud that they don't say they come from Barcelona, they say they are from Gràcia. Last time I was in this neighbourhood must be 10 years ago or so and I can’t wait to see whether it has changed. Renée has been living in Barcelona for many years and I believe she must live an amazing life since she seems like a happy lady, and very passionate about food.

Renée knows where the locals go and after a short walk up to the borough of Gràcia we start meeting them at their stores, restaurants, bodegas and cafes. We come along squares with busy terrace cafes and overall it feels like there are a lot of elderly people and families with children living next to artists and artisans in this part of the city. It is a cosy, relaxed and welcoming area. I am not saying there aren’t other parts of Barcelona just as lovely ... 

All these years back Gràcia was a quiet area and now it is being described as a hot spot but still very affordable. I see a semi-gentrified, but in parts still authentic part of town.

Walk, talk, and eat & talk, eat and walk

Did you know that some Spanish people say that Cava is better than Champagne? To check, how true this is, we start the tour with a Cava breakfast, and I wash down my goat cheese and honey-sandwich while learning about the bubbly drink. I still try to make up my mind when we arrive at a neighbourhood market to have a look at all the ingredients you need to prepare local recipes. I imagine myself living here, buying potatoes to make my own patatas bravas (the Spanish version of fried potatoes) with romesco sauce (an almond and pepper based delicacy) plus peppers for melt in the mouth pimientos de Padrón (Padron Peppers) and fresh spinach to fry with raisins and pine nuts. I would only need a few good items to create an outstanding meal. 

The cheese we have at one of the many stalls is best described as to-die-for delicious and creamy and works perfectly together with the cut fig jam.

 

Olive oil, rose water, romance and heartbreak

Not sure how you feel but I am totally obsessed with olive oil. When I cook at home I work with a choice from Greece, Tunisia, Italy and Spain, and my palate still appreciates the distinguished taste of every single one. Never before have I been to a store where they sell olive oil in bottles which could easily be the package for extravagant perfume. It becomes more and more apparent how important olive oil in Catalan cooking is. Last night I had tomato bread at a restaurant and today I learn how to prepare it. After a round of freshly fried patatas bravas with hot red romesco sauce I rub a bit of fresh garlic and tomato on sliced bread plus drizzles of olive oil on top of it (pan tomaca). 



Within hours I start to feel like being part of this neighbourhood, at least for the time being, a girl can have her dreams. Speaking of dreaming, do you believe in romance as much as I do? The owner of a Syrian bakery arrived in Barcelona decades ago and fell in love with a local girl, married her and settled in the city, and all that within a few weeks. These things happen, and the moment I eat his pistachio and rosewater pastry, I realise that his recipes are just as fantastic as is his obvious expertise for the right timing. It is only a tiny little story out of many out there but it shows once more that it pays off to be open to new things and never be afraid to live your life fully.


As I said earlier this area is semi-gentrified and of course there is street art. Being a street art fan and a coffee snob I am more than delighted to see coffee street art, not far from properties which look sugar coated, painted in light green and pink. In all these prettiness there is also space for a tale of forced and unhappy love and that is the way it can be if you aren’t fully in charge of your own life. The story happened long before the invention of Nutella and the lady I am talking about couldn’t comfort herself with simply eating a few glasses of the chocolate spread but turned to charity work instead …





There is so much to experience, taste and try in Gràcia and as I drink my café cortado, that is what they call an espresso with a tiny shot of foamed milk in Spain, Renée offers dessert and describes it as “refreshing pastry.” She surely knows how to enjoy life and how to encourage others to do the same.

Have you ever tried refreshing pastry?

Verdict: If you fancy walking, chatting with locals and learning about food this is the right tour for you. I am glad I went and thank Devour Barcelona Food Tours heartily for the invitation to come along as a vegetarian. Opinions are my own obviously.

Where is your favourite place in Barcelona? Have you ever been on a food tour? Looking forward to hear from you.

From Berlin with love

8 comments:

  1. Dorothee, thank you so much for this lovely recap of your morning with Renée on our Devour Barcelona Food Tour! Your descriptions and pictures are simply lovely-- I feel like I was there with you! Hope to see you someday here in Madrid. Safe travels!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post and great photos too! Thanks for the kind words!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is a great article with cool photos! I did the same tour when I was in Barcelona and loved it! Safe travels. Jonny

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Lauren, thank you :-) I haven't been in Madrid yet but I am sure I will visit one day. All the very best to you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Renée, thanks so much for the lovely morning :-) Have fun in Barcelona and good luck with everything ...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Jonny, thanks for the compliment, I am so very happy to hear you like my pics :-) Safe travels.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is a great post - and I'm saving it for when I finally make it to Barcelona (has long been on 'my list' and had to cancel a booked trip there in 2008 unfortunately :( )

    I love food tours. We did a great walking food tour of Hoi An in Vietnam. Tasted about 80 different foods along the way...luckily we had been warned not to eat breakfast!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Fairlie, your trip in Hoi An sounds very exciting ... you tried 80 different things? How on earth did you manage to do that?

      Delete

Greetings stranger. I always try to be myself and to be a tourist as often as I can. I would love to get in contact with lots of hard travelling tourists who love to be out and about as much as I do. I am looking forward to all your comments. Thanks so much in advance.