Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Baluard Bakery in Barceloneta...

Today I was struck by the thought that I haven't covered my absolute favourite shop in Barcelona yet. Very remiss of me as it is the shop that I go into every day almost without fail. It's our local bakery, Baluard, and I can happily say that it's the best bakery I've ever been to.

The owner, Anna Bellsolà, comes from a family of bakers from Girona, and brought her considerable skills to Barceloneta about four years ago. The shop is deceptively small from the outside, hiding a huge baking production behind the scenes, where they work through the night to make sure that there's enough fresh bread and goodies for the ravenous hordes who descend each day. People here eat bread with pretty much every meal so they need to stock up regularly. 

The best thing about the bread they bake, apart from the amazing taste, is the fact that it's made using 100% natural flours, some organic, and prepared with yeast in a traditional way. The loaves are rolled out one by one and placed on a linen cloth directly on the floor of the kiln, rather than on a tray, to ensure an even crust. This process carries on throughout  the day, so whenever you go in, you're ensured that there'll be something coming fresh from the oven. The smells that come from here, as you can imagine, are divine.There are 20 varieties of loaves available and we've worked our way through them all; I will say my favourite is probably the Pa de Cereals which is packed with delicious seeds and grains, but still really light with an amazing crunchy crust. 

There are scrumptious cakes available too. We try to limit those to weekend treats but sometimes we do succumb during the week. The trick is not to look to your left when you're in the bakery as once you spot those magdalenas, pastries and cheesecakes displayed so beautifully, you're done for. I can't believe my luck having this bakery so nearby, I know some people travel from other parts of town to shop here.I'm not so sure my waistline will thank me but I'll just have to make sure I keep up the long beach and mountain walks to make up for it.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Juego De La Liebre en Barcelona

Spring has sprung here in Barcelona. We may still have a bit of rain ahead, but this weekend has been full of sun, bird song and blossom on the trees. His Nibs is away in London at the moment, which has been a shame as we probably would have made the most of this weekend by planning a trip up to the mountains outside the city or maybe somewhere along the coast. As it it, I've been left to my own devices so I've entertained myself by, guess what, going shopping. (I know, what a surprise.)

First port of call each day has been to the Rosa Canina ice cream shop for a scoop of their delicious organic ice cream. Rosa Canina is actually a Berlin based company, but they have a branch right here in the main square in Barceloneta. It's actually right across from our flat which means I have no chance of resisting the temptation. I'm doomed! It's absolutely delicious and the flavours are really natural, not at all like some of the more synthetic ice creams on offer all over this city. 

The market event After Tea Barcelona was on today, I've previously blogged about it here. I think the venue they used previously has shut down so they held today's event in a function room at the Husa Oriente hotel on La Rambla. I popped in really quickly as I also had another vintage hunt planned, but my eye was instantly drawn to the stall run by Frederik Garcia. His screen printed white t-shirts are right up my street with their animal headed silhouetted characters in black. He also has an online shop if you're not in Barcelona, which you can check out by clicking on his name above. I bought a paper print of his hare figure which you can see in the picture above, I'm going to frame it later. I picked the hare as it is the season for him (I'm more of a fan of  the pagan march hare than his fluffy Easter rabbit Christian counterpart). Sadly hare coursing is as popular in this country as it is in my birth country, Ireland, so I want to show some love for our long eared friend. 

My final stop today was to a vintage shop that is only actually open this and next weekend. It's called the Grand Mercadillo over in Raval and is being organised by a couple of guys who run an art workshop and work in the theatre here in Barcelona. It's more of a clearance sale of items they've collected through the years and is worth a visit if you're in the city next weekend as it really is a little treasure trove of all kinds of goodies. I immediately gravitated to a traditional tuxedo jacket which had a Barcelona tailor's label in it, but sadly it didn't fit. Sometimes it's a real pain being curvy as it was beautifully cut but didn't sit right on me. Such a shame as it was a really well made jacket. All was not lost however as I did manage to nab the handmade cotton nightie in the photo above. It doesn't look like much on the hanger but the stitching is really well done and the lace at the top is in perfect condition. I'm going to cinch it in with a belt and wear it as a summer dress. They weren't sure of the age of it as it's been handmade and had no label, but I think it may have been made as a costume item as it's in such good condition with no stains or signs of wear. 

I've actually got a couple of more shops from this weekend to tell you about, but I think this post is long enough for now. I also got my hands on a book about tailoring techniques which I'm going to give away to one of you so keep your eyes peeled for that. Thanks for reading and as always, any (nice and clean!) comments or suggestions you have would be really appreciated. Hasta luego!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Rain it Raineth....

Believe it or not, the sun doesn’t always shine in Barcelona. When it rains, it really pours, and yesterday was a complete wash out as it never seemed to stop bucketing down. This scuppered my plans to go out to hunt down new shops for this blog, but it did mean that I remembered that there are two shops right here in Barceloneta that are absolute life savers on a day like yesterday.

I really didn’t feel like doing my weekly shopping but the cupboards were pretty bare. Our local favourite deli / take away La Casita had to come to the rescue, as it has a couple of times, to be honest. (I haven’t really got the hang of being a domestic goddess yet, clearly.) I wish I could link to La Casita but it's nowhere to be found on the internet. I guess this means you're really getting local information here. If you do come to Bareloneta, head for C / Atlantida, by the side of the market, and you'll find it. There isn’t a menu at La Casita, you select from a choice of dishes they’ve prepared that day. There’s usually a meat, chicken and vegetarian option with a selection of vegetables. Last night we had some excellent botifarra with fried potatoes and green beans and chicken in a creamy sauce with raisins and some red and green peppers, and all for the princely sum of 5.80 euros. I would have taken a picture but we were too hungry to wait to eat it. They also make amazing pizzas, with a small but good quality range of toppings.  A lot of people pop in there on Sunday to grab pizzas which they take to the beach for a picnic, usually accompanied by cans of Estrella purchased from one of the many guys selling them for a euro, who can be found peddling beers all over the city.

However, we didn’t have to wash our meal down with fizzy lager, as we have the most wonderful wine shop about 2 minutes away from the flat. It’s called Vinoteca Voramar and has a massive selection of wine, cava, champagne and even a few bottled beers.  We bought a bottle of a xarello and chardonnay blend.  I don’t usually like chardonnay but it was an 80% xarello and 20% chardonnay blend from the Penedes wine region. I can remember all of that, but I can’t remember the name of the wine itself. Typical of me and of course the bottle has already gone in the recycling bin. I do remember that it was delicious and only 4.80 euros.

We finished off the evening by watching Pedro Almodóvar's ‘What Have I Done to Deserve This?’ (Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto?) which is one of his earlier films starring Carmen Maura, one of my favourite actresses. I love Almodóvar's films and even though I still need the English subtitles, I’m starting to understand a lot more of the dialogue without them.  So, even though it was horrible outside, I had a really enjoyable time and probably saved some money too.

The weather today was bright and sunny and the trees are starting to bud now, so it really does feel like winter is over.  Check out His Nibs blog for pictures of what we got up to today.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Ladies Day

After all the vintage hunting I’ve been doing lately, I thought it might make a nice change to check out one of the many boutiques in Barcelona. There are so many shops all over this city, but if you want to cover quite a few in a short space of time then you can’t do better than heading slightly north to Gracia. It’s a really lovely part of town to visit, as it has a kind of village-y charm, and there are so many shops you can’t go wrong.

I went up there today to check out one particular place, named Lady Loquita (well, two places really as there are two branches of the shop in Gracia). The Lady Loquita shops are both really pretty and well laid out with the clothes gathered on rails in colour blocks and lots of nicely displayed jewellery and accessories dotted around too. His Nibs enjoyed the area with a sofa and magazines, a really good idea that I think should be provided in every store.  I especially liked the décor in the second branch on Travessera de Gracia, the wallpaper in particular is fabulous. I was tempted to try to take a photo of it, but it’s always tricky in a shop as they tend to suspect you of being a competitor on the prowl. I just about managed to take some blurry pics of the shop fronts. Luckily they have photos on their site here so you’ll be able to see what I mean. 

The designs and brands featured in the store are very girly, to be honest probably too much so for me, although I did spy some cute dresses that I could picture myself in come summer. It would also be worth shopping there for those occasions when you may want to look demure, maybe if you’re meeting the in-laws for the first time. I struggle to ever imagine myself carrying off demure, but some of you may be able to. My favourite items were the jewellery from Polcan Designs, lots of gemstones and silver, which is pretty much what I wear all the time. You can find all the brands they carry on their website, some of them, like Yumi, you may already know but it’s good to see that many of them are locally based. They also have their own collection, Tiralahilacha. The prices are reasonable too, ranging from a couple of euros for postcards and hairclips to 20 to 100 euros for clothes. It's definitely worth checking them out, as there's a lot on offer in both stores.

I can see myself spending quite a bit more time in this part of town as I spied so many more places I want to check out. It’s also a great place to socialise in as it’s full of bars and restaurants and has some of the prettiest squares in Barcelona. I love where we live in Barceloneta but it’s great to know that we also have somewhere so nice to hang out in just a few metro stops away.

Let me know if you have any shops or areas in Barcelona that you'd like me to cover, I'm always open to suggestions.