The long awaited Spain post that I keep referring to is finally here, excuse the photography as it was mainly taken by hungry me on my phone. So a few weeks ago I went on a little celebratory, end-of-job (/retirement) holiday. I started by visiting my friend Georgie in Switzerland. Switzerland is totally underrated for its food, it gets the best of French, German and Italian cuisine and concocts its own wonderful alpine delicacies too, but everything costs a bomb there.
My first night in Basel we went to a lovely, modern Italian restaurant called Casanova, where the pasta and bread were deliciously fresh. The service was slow but the food and wine made up for it. Basel was pretty good for its drink all round, they have a few really nice, artsy bars (one actually called Café des Arts).
Being an omnivore, a place that I was a bit dubious of going to was the vegetarian buffet chain, Tibits. To be perfectly honest I thought Georgie was taking me to some paleo, vegan, don’t-eat-anything-that-had-a-mother, hippie joint. I should have trusted Georgie because boy was I wrong. When you walk in, it’s all decked out like a modern showroom with butterfly wallpaper and huge floor length curtains. The food looks and tastes great and is wholesome. Some of the best on offer that day was a cheesy leek and onion pie, veggie chilli and a wild rice salad with spicy Asian dressing. There’s so many options, hot and cold, with food to order too. The best thing is there is one in London!!
We can’t really omit chocolate from the conversation when talking about Swiss food, but their luxemburgerli is such a delightful sweet too. These little foam kisses are basically mini macaroons that come in every different flavour, I like the champagne ones because they’re gold and I am six years old.
Right, short contained note about Swiss chocolate now, eat it, it’s good for you. Whenever I go to Switzerland my mum tells me to have the hot chocolate, it’s perfect, sugar you can add but I like it as they serve it, bitter and not-surprisingly chocolatey.
The next part of my journey I met my friend Abi in Barcelona, the worst city to navigate that I have ever encountered. We found some places to eat by chance but we did a little tripadvisor jobby on the rest and learnt about some from our lovely hostel hosts at Barcelona Central Garden.
Bosque Palermo, best place for paella. Among the many tourists and students in Barcelona, one American and his dad were seated next to us and the dad had serious food envy! The paella serves a minimum of 2 people so this guy passed it up for a seafood platter instead, I wish we had offered him some because we shamefully couldn’t even finish ours.
So Gaudi’s Casa Mila was covered by scaffolding but we wanted to see the scaffolding I guess so we went along anyway and a good thing we did because the attached restaurant Café de la Pedrera was insanely good. Best fresh OJ ever, great bikinis (two triangles make it a toastie mate), exceptional ham croquetas and a modern take on bravas with new potatoes and aerated aioli.
We had tapas at quite a few places though missed the authentic La Champagneria tapas bar because it had a great big road work site in front of it so you couldn’t spill out into the street on the hot sunny day that it was. The tapas highlight was probably at El Quim in La Boqueria market, Europe’s largest (and best and most beautiful) indoor market. You have to go there in the morning because they stop serving half the menu after noon, we had incredible tortilla sandwiches there.
Opposite the Opera theatre there is the Café De L’Opera where they serve the best churros in Barcelona with the traditional Spanish hot chocolate, more of a dip than a drink. Why they serve it in such big cups I will never understand because I’m sure no one has ever finished the whole thing and not felt sick.
A drink that is new to me and meant I had to sample it at every mealtime and for elevenses and tea time is cava sangria. Have it instead of Pimms this summer, also if your travelling companion, Abi decides to launch a full glass of sangria at you across the dinner table then it’s easier to get the stain out than with red wine sangria. We had a lovely rose cava sangria at Buenas Migas a bakery chain that I needed to stop at because I saw a man eating a meatball and onion focaccia and wanted one immediately, see photo.
One day for breakfast we went to Casa Vives Patisserie which had a big selection of pastries, chocolates and champagnes weirdly and was surprisingly cheap. Though they had a powercut and what we were trying to order got a bit lost in translation.
For our final night in Barcelona we went to a grill restaurant called The 336, which has been my favourite set menu to tell people about. 25 euros gets you:
– glass of cava (not cava sangria but the rest of the menu forgives that)
– ½ litre water
– ½ bottle of wine
– huge starter
– huge main and for 5 euros a huge fillet steak main
– dessert that I couldn’t manage after my huge starter and huge main
– coffee or tea
– a look at the erotic art on the wall
To top off the night we went to Icebarcelona on the beach and were unsupervised, for what was probably over the recommended time, in downing our gin slings before our ice glasses melted.
The next chapter in our trip was Vigo in Galicia to visit our friend Leo. Having had our fair share of Spanish food we got to sample Spain’s answer to Italian Zizzi, La Tagliatella which had great pizzas and also yummy milkshakes and burgers at the American diner Tommy Mel’s.
Still, we did have a taste of Galicia with drinking from a challenging genie bottle Porrón accompanied with sunflower seeds, shots of their local liquor cafe and little caña beers in the home of Estrella. We ended the trip with more tapas, more croquetas and very tasty pulpo (octopus). Even though we were so full we couldn’t leave without having some empanadillas, a steal at 80 cents and so packed with flavour.
As you can surmise, I didn’t need to eat for 3 days upon arriving back home from this uh-mazing adventure… but I did.