Barcelona: brunch at Milk and Catedral de Barcelona

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Only five minutes’ walk from our hotel was this cute place serving some of the best brunch in the city. I found this out via Time Out and I was certainly not the only one as we were met with a long queue, but it moved quickly and about 15 minutes later we sat down to eat.

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It’s a cosy place with a lot of tables and a few seats at the bar. It was packed and buzzing; nice atmosphere for a Sunday brunch before exploring more of Barcelona.

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The service was really quick, so we got our cappuccinos, and my freshly squeeze orange juice almost directly after we ordered them.

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And soon after that our food arrived. Emma had the Greek yoghurt with fruit salad and granola which was really nice and fresh. Extra points for serving the yoghurt in another bowl.

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I was craving eggs and had the scrambled eggs with morcilla and gruyère on toast.

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We also got a bread basket just to make sure we had enough carbs for our long day walking around the city.

Milk, Carrer d’en Gignàs, 21, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

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After brunch we headed to La Pedrera, via Catedral de Barcelona. We both like “ticking” things off along the way. Efficient sightseeing – that’s us!

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The Cathedral is rather breathtaking and definitely worth a little detour.

Catedral de Barcelona, Pla de la Seu, s/n, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

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I also enjoy looking at pretty old buildings, and especially Barcelona offers a lot of nice facades.

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Some more traditional, and some in the iconic modernista style.

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Like Palau de la Música Catalana; a pretty concert hall with pillars, angels and painted walls.

Palau de la Música Catalana, C/ Palau de la Música, 4-6, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

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I think I prefer the simpler styles though, like these more traditional facades with shutters and balconies. So pretty!

Barcelona: cocktails at Old Fashioned and late supper at Bar Mut

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After our fab (but early; we sat down at 7pm) dinner at Bodega 1900 we found a nice cocktail bar called Old Fashioned to chill in. It was small and cosy, had nice music on but you could still talk and an extensive cocktail list. Lovely! Also, all the staff were bearded men with white shirts and suspenders. Cute!

I went for a Gin Tonica, the Spanish version of gin and tonic served in a large glass on a stem. I tried one with strawberry notes and it was served with a dried strawberry slice. Really nice!

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Emma asked for a fruity drink and received one with strawberries and raspberries. It was good fun sitting here chatting and people watching for a bit.

Old Fashioned, Calle Santa Teresa nº 1, Gràcia, 08012 Barcelona, Spain

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Until we got hungry again and headed to nearby Bar Mut that I was drying to try. I so love that the restaurants here are open late.

At Bar Mut there’s no printed menu, but some dishes are written on the board and your waiter will tell you the rest. You can also choose your fish and shellfish from the iced counter. Everything’s fresh and seasonal. Simple, but not too simple.

We started off with white asparagus that were perfectly cooked, and served with a light mayonnaise, nuts and leaves.

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I’ve never been able to resist croquetas and this time was no exception. These big ones with iberico ham were amazing!

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Our last dish (I mean, we had had a proper dinner earlier that evening) was a this lovely beef dish with morels and a delicious sauce.

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We walked out happy and full, heading back to the hotel in our taxi for another full day of exploring Barcelona the next day.

They don’t have Uber here but other similar taxi companies (the one we used had its own fleet and all cars had free water and wi-fi – so good!) that we used a lot, especially in the evenings when we were tired from walking all day.

Bar Mut, Pau Clarís nº 192 (Diagonal), Barcelona, Spain

 

Barcelona: amazing dinner at Bodega 1900

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This trip was my second time in Barcelona. The first time I visited with my dear friend Carina we had dinner at Bodega 1900 one night, and I liked it so much I booked it again for this trip.

The restaurant is owned by Albert and Ferran Adria, the brothers behind legendary and now closed El Bulli restaurant. Now they have a whole empire of restaurants in Barcelona and Bodega 1900 is one of the least fancy ones.

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The decor is rather austere and the lighting a bit dull, but don’t let that fool you; the food is seriously good and the waiters really friendly and very professional.

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The house cava is amazing – so I highly recommend you start with that. And these “olives”. They look like olives and taste like olives but it is in fact a little wiggly balls of olive juice. Divine!

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Next we had these juicy and sweet red prawns that were almost buttery, that we dipped in sea salt. A-ma-zing! I could have had several more portions of these. Yum!

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Instead of the regular jamon our charming waiter recommended the more flavoursome Iberico loin. Really good!

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We also had the pan con tomate which was very good!

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We also had these squid hotdog which was just as lovely as I remembered it from my last visit!

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This time they also had a mini pork burger on the menu; filled with thin slices of cooked pork full of umami. It just melted in the mouth. Incredible!

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The quail with potatoes and a very fluffy mustard sauce was perfection! And it was nice with a more substantial dish towards the end of our meal.

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But we weren’t quite full yet so we ordered the peas and mushrooms in this very rich broth and some extra bread. Full of flavour and very comforting. A beautiful if yet very simple dish.

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With twenty minutes to spare before the next sitting we shared the perfect wobbly crema de catalana (mum, you would have loved this one!) and had some coffee.

It was a lovely meal and great evening! I love this place and urge you to book a table well in advance of your Barcelona trip. You can thank me later (maybe with a bottle of that cava?!).

Bodega 1900,  Carrer de Tamarit, 91, 08015 Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona: Park Güell, La Sagrada Familia and sandwich lunch at Praktik Bakery Baluard

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Hola!

Just back from a long weekend in Barcelona with my best friend from home, Emma, I’m dying to share it all with you. The restaurants and the sights. So let’s start off where we ourselves started; with Park Güell.

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We both arrived late on the Friday night so didn’t see anything of Barcelona then, but we stayed up talking long into the night. After breakfast on Saturday we took a taxi to Park Güell as it was all across town from our hotel.

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We walked around the huge park for a good hour and a half taking in the different ‘rooms’ and enjoying the magnificent views. It’s a good mix of Gaudí quirkiness and greenery. And it feels very exotic with palm trees, oranges trees and cacti a plenty.

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There are lots of buildings (and some lived-in houses!) all in very different styles but because the space is so large and different it fits!

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It’s a real oasis bang in the city and although many people visited when we did it never felt crowded because of the vast green spaces.

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For us, not being all that crazy about Gaudí’s style, this was a great way to explore it in a an accessible way.

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Although not my style at all, I find these gingerbread houses adorable!

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And the views – breathtaking!

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Park Güell is free to visit, although one area requires a ticket). We were happy to just walk around the free part of the park. And although it has lots of hills the bigger paths are all wide and accessible (as the daughter to an occupational therapist I notice these things). It’s not the kind of park where you bring a picnic or sit on a lawn but there’s a restaurant and other vendors if you get thirsty or peckish.

Park Güell, 08024 Barcelona, Spain

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Our next stop was La Sagrada Familia, but we didn’t go in. For us it was enough to view it from the outside. There is such a thing as too much culture. Plus we were hungry and needed a sit down.

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But it’s pretty incredible.

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Amazing details.

La Sagrada Familia, Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain

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We stopped for sandwiches at a lovely bakery in a hotel for lunch, that we just happened to walk past. I had read about the Barceloneta branch of the bakery so knew it would be nice! And it was.

I had a crusty baguette with jamon and tomato (so good!)  and Emma had one equally nice with manchego and sundried tomatoes. And to finish off the meal we shared a lovely tarlet with strawberries and raspberries (chocolate crust, crème pâtissière and fresh sweet berries) .

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Everything in the bakery looked super fresh and inviting, and the seating area was light and airy; the perfect place to enjoy a quiet sandwich lunch.

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Praktik Bakery Baluard, Calle Provença 279, Barcelona, Spain

Recipe: rhubarb meringue pie

 

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We have a good thing going in my family. We all like mayonnaise and bearnaise sauce A LOT so we use a lot of egg yolks. Not wanting to waste food the egg whites go into little containers in the fridge (they keep for weeks!). But conveniently my dad loves everything meringue-y so we get to use up the egg whites quite frequently too.

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The whole little family (there’s only three of us; mother, father and me) loved this rhubarb meringue pie. It still has the tang of a lemon meringue pie but is slightly less heavy as no butter or egg yolk in the rhubarb filling.

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The pie on the pictures had approx 500 g rhubarb in the filling which was fine taste wise but looked a little silly with all that meringue, so in the recipe below I’ve adjusted the recipe to 800 g rhubarb. It cooks down a lot in the oven, so I promise it’s not too much.

Also, when making the meringue, please note that it needs a lot of beating with an electric whisk and that it’s important the syrup boils and reaches (or almost reaches) 118C.

Rhubarb meringue pie, serves 8

Pastry:

180 g plain flour

100 g softened butter

2 1/2 tbsp cream or water

Rhubarb filling:

800 g frozen rhubarb pieces

3 tbsp potato flour (starch)

4-5 tbsp caster sugar

 

Italian meringue:

4 egg whites

120 g caster sugar

Syrup:

120 g caster sugar

100 ml water

Mix all the ingredients to the dough in a bowl or using a food processor. Press into a Ø 20 cm pie dish. Bake in a low oven using baking beads at 180C, for approx 10-15 minutes or until golden and baked through. Leave to cool. 

Place the defrosted rhubarb pieces in an ovenproof dish and scatter with potato flour and sugar. If using fresh rhubarb I would start off by using less potato flour adding more if needed.  Place in a 200 C oven for approx 20 minuter. The mixture should be bubbling, almost caramelised and thickened. Leave to cool. 

Make the meringue: Add egg whites and sugar to a clean bowl and beat for 10 minutes with an electric whisk. Meanwhile make the syrup by adding water and sugar to a saucepan and bring to the boil (don’t stir). Remove when 118C (the boiling point for sugar). Add the hot syrup to the meringue and beat for a further 15 minutes, until you have a thick and glossy meringue. 

Assemble: Add the rhubarb mixture to the pie crust once both are cool. Spread the meringue on top and burn the edges with a brulee torch. Serve with lightly whipped cream. 

Recipe: asparagus with chopped egg, browned butter and lemon

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Easter was all about about asparagus (and wild garlic) for me. The first asparagus of the season had arrived in the UK before I left for Sweden so I brought two nice bunches home with me. And then we found some lovely Italian asparagus in the supermarket so obviously had to buy that too!

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The first time we kept it simple and ate them with homemade hollandaise sauce. The second and third lots were served with wild garlic mayonnaise (it’s SO good!) and on Holy Saturday we made this dish with chopped egg, browned butter and lemon.

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Asparagus with chopped egg, browned butter and lemon, serves 4

12 asparagus 

2 almost hard boiled eggs, chopped 

50 g butter

1/2 lemon

2 tbsp chopped chives 

4 radishes, thinly sliced

salt, black pepper

Place the butter in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Let the butter melt but leave it until it’s foamy. Remove from heat when it’s a nice medium brown underneath the foam and it smells nutty (and divine!). 

Cook the asparagus in boiling water until al dente (approx 3 mins). Drain and place the asparagus on a plate. Season. Add the chopped egg and spoon over the browned butter. Add plenty of lemon juice. Season again and top with chopped chives and sliced radishes. 

Easter at home

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Happy Easter!

I got back from Sweden last night after ten wonderful days with friends and family. I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to see, but I’m starting to learn that I never have that much time when I go home. And I’m happy I managed to squeeze in as much as I did.

I ate a lot of pick ‘n mix and cooked a bit, met up with friends and got invited over to theirs for lunches and dinners. And I got to enjoy the fresh countryside air, pick wood anemones in the woods and unwind a little.

Here are a few pictures from the trip and I will post a lovely recipe later in the week!

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Our Easter dinner on Holy Saturday; plenty of eggs and herring!
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Champagne, nibbles and quality time with my dear parents.
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British asparagus! with homemade hollandaise sauce – SO good!
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“Our” woods
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Picking wood anemones
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Rhubarb meringue pie – our new favourite pudding!