best chocolate in Barcelona, spain

 

“I just fancy something chocolate-y!” Mo kept saying to me as we strolled down the Passeig de Gracia.

It was our last afternoon in Barcelona and after five days of non stop exploring (predominantly on foot), I was not in the mood to go on a hunt for chocolate.

We were both tired – really tired! However, almost as though the City had heard his call, did we find ourselves on the block of discord, Illa de la Discordia, right outside Casa Amatller – a stunning modernist building that blended neatly onto a road surrounded by the majesty of Gaudi architecture.

Recalling what we had learnt from our Gaudi tour, the financiers (usually wealthy families) of these incredible structures loved to weave the stories of their careers and how they made their money, into the buildings they commissioned. Mr Amatller was considered the foremost chocolatier of Spain so surely the bright café sign inside would be inspired by his legacy and fulfil Mo’s chocolate craving at the same time.

 

 

The building was designed by the architect Joseph Puig i Cadafalch and is considered one the most important architectural masterpieces of the MANY that dominate Barcelona. The large open doorway led to a cavernous entrance hall and Cafe Foborit occupies the back of the house.

 

 

It was busy, even though it wasn’t a peak time of the day, there was a real hustle and bustle of people wandering from the cafe to shop and back. We walked through to the small courtyard at the back and found a lovely spot by the large planted wall. The hustle and bustle was no more and instead we were sat in a serene oasis, the odd Gaudi elements still in view.

No sooner had I settled myself down than Mo had disappeared?! He emerged explaining in excited wonderment, what he had just seen: THICK. HOT. CHOCOLATE. ON. TAP. He said it was like a dream. His eyes were the biggest I’d ever seen them go!

10 minutes had passed and the waitresses came and went. No sign of our hot chocolates or cake. Now I’m not usually a fan of chocolate (crazy, I know), but when Mo explained that literally everyone was ordering it and that it looked amazing, even I was anxious to see what the hype was about. 15 minutes came and went and there was still no order.

My husband is not known for his patience and by this point was getting a bit agitated. He went in to find out what had happened and it turns out a waitress had actually emerged with our order even before Mo had returned from paying. They were very apologetic about it and a fresh order was produced minutes later (Thank God, as it could easily have been murder on the chocolatier’s floor!).

 

 

What can I say, as a non-chocolate fan, even I enjoyed this cup of unctuous, molten cocoa. Neither too sweet, nor too bitter, it coated my palate with the smoothest hot chocolate I had ever had. Simply delicious. Although I was a bit taken aback when I saw there was a piece of crusty bread on my saucer. I looked at Mo in utter confusion, what was I supposed to do with this?! he assured me it was to dip in the chocolate. Always one for giving new things a try (even though it seemed a bit wrong) and lo and behold it was actually quite nice, dusted with a sprinkling of icing sugar it was very addictive.

This was a perfect break to all of the walking we had been doing. We didn’t want to leave!

Post hot chocolates and cake, and with our legs by now well-rested, we headed in to the gift shop. BAD idea – as after that little cup of paradise, all Mo wanted to do was buy everything! There goes his diet. To have left without our own slabs of solid cocoa from which to make the famed hot chocolate would have been criminal. So we bought some – maybe even more than some…

Souvenirs in hand, we went back out into the stunning hallway. We were both dying to explore this incredible building but it was closed to the public for while. A real shame as couldn’t help but wonder what the rest of the interiors would look like.

The most wonderful thing about this building is that it still stands as a monument to what is was built for – the finest purveyor of chocolate that Spain has ever seen. And with that one cup, we got to savour just a little bit of it’s history.

For chocolate-lovers and lovers of architecture alike, no trip to Barcelona should be complete without a visit to Casa Amatller.

Trust me, you won’t regret it 🙂

 

Have you visited the block of discord? Tried the chocolate at Café Faborit? Or have you found anywhere better we should check out next time?

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FREE-BARCELONA-TRAVEL-GUIDE

 

Barcelona as a holiday destination has a lot to offer I don’t think it matters whether you’re there for a weekend, a week, a month… there’s so much to see and do. That’s where the Barcelona travel guide comes in!

A couple of dear friends recently announced they have booked a trip to visit for the first time and I was so excited for them (the kind of excited I’d feel if I was going – I have to keep reminding myself I’m not)

I decided to put together a small travel guide, not only for some of my favourite experiences, but also a few tips and tricks on getting around and where to eat.

Basically its a selection of information from blog posts and conversations with locals typed up into a pdf, suitable for printing or simply downloading to keep on your phone.

And it’s free!

Simply fill out the form below and voila, the guide is yours…

 

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Any feedback you may have (good or bad) would be much appreciated! As I am finishing up guides for other destinations to add to the collection.

So if there’s something super useful you feel is missing, or a part which you feel has been no help at all, please let me know! – asmayounus29@gmail.com

Thank you 🙂

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It was our final day in Barcelona and as we didn’t have a jam packed schedule we decided to head out for a luxury brunch.

Now I can’t take credit for this find… this was all Mo. We headed off in search of a place called ‘Brunch & Cake,’ a branch of the ‘Cup & Cake’ chain (Barcelona-based).

It was about a half hour’s walk from our apartment in the Gothic quarter and we were a little shocked to find we had to add our names to the waiting list on arrival. There isn’t even anywhere to wait really, a few benches on the street, but they were already occupied by couples and groups waiting their turn – just like us!?! I wouldn’t normally hang around this long for food so early in the day, but given the amount of people that had showed up and were happy to stand outside, I was convinced there must be a good reason.

This place had to be good.

Our name was finally called and we were given a seat in the corner of this very tiny corner-plot café. If you want one of the people-watching window benches, there is an extra charge but we were happy to take the first seat offered to us. We were perched on two stools around a table that could just about fit two plates and there was hardly any space between us and the other diners.

This place had better be good.

There was a real mix of foreigners and locals and the whole place was buzzing like it was a Saturday night. I loved the interiors. SO white and clean, homely, it was English kitchen-mixed with-Scandinavian simplicity. Perfectly placed plants and lots of bare wood.

Menu arrived and we both struggled to decide on what to eat, there was a great choice available. It was all so different, so unusual, so unfair that we wouldn’t be able to return and sample all the options.

Mo decided on the eggs benedict with salmon on a waffle and I chose warm brie cheese, caramelised onion and strawberry sandwich with poached eggs, potatoes and tomato salad.

 

This place was REALLY GOOD.

 

Brunch-and-Cake-Barcelona-15

 

Their philosophy is to make everything with great care, respect and passion, this is definitely evident from every dish we saw coming out of that kitchen. They were like works of art, but most importantly the combination of the random locally sourced ingredients that each dish boasted worked well.

Now back in the UK, their menu works as our breakfast bible. We try to recreate some of the dishes at home, obviously not to the same standard but hey, we try our best.

I’ve yet to find anywhere with a morning menu as original as Brunch & Cake and I think if Mo and I return to Barcelona (which we fully intend to do) I’m sure this will be one of our first, rather than last stops.

 

Brunch & Cake, 19, Carrer Enric Granados, 19, 08007 Barcelona

 

Have your tried any of the other Cup & Cake Shops? Or is there anywhere else in the city offering a stand out breakfast?

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The best thing about eating out in Barcelona, is the abundance of seafood. As a Muslim traveller, it means there is always a decent variety of food on offer wherever you go in the city. You’ll find a few sneaky halal places dotted around as well.

Here are some of the local dishes we managed to devour, as well as a few Spanish favourites:

Bacalao

For our first meal in the city, Mo and I propped up one of the seafood bars at La Boqueria and indulged in a feast of fish. Best dish by far was the Bacalao, a salted cod, which was fried with a tomato seasoning and served with home-made chips. A meaty fish with plenty of flavour and not at all dry. Amazing!

 

Pescaditos Fritos

Pescaditos Fritos is basically what it says on the tin, fried fish. Normally served with a nice slice of lemon, its the kind of thing you just munch on in between dinner chat. Like chips (but not).

 

Patatas Bravas

They’re everywhere. They’re all slightly different. Always have a yummy topping so they’re not dry. Simply order and enjoy.

 

Esqueixada

After falling in love with Bacalao, I was excited to try Esqueixada when we stopped for a late dinner at Tantarantana near our apartment. Esqueixada (pronounced es-kay-jada) is a cold dish, a salad if you will, usually made with pepper, tomatoes and onions served on top of shredded cod. The vinegar mixed with the saltiness of the fish gives a nice tangy, refreshing taste, kind of like cevische actually. Perhaps more of a lunch dish.

 

Pa Amb Tomaquet

When I originally saw this on the menu I really didn’t think much of it. And why would I? I mean it’s basically a slice of bread rubbed with fresh tomatoes and finished off with a drizzle of oil and salt. A simple Catalan staple. But this dish must be rubbed with magical tomatoes because this dish it is super moreish and a perfect accompaniment to any main meal you’ve ordered.

 

Paella

A popular Spanish dish, you’ll see this everywhere. A rice dish prepared over an open fire with a variety of veg, meat or fish added. I was advised by locals that many restaurants serve ready made frozen paella (usually restaurants that have photos of their food on boards outside) . Word on the street is that Thursdays are the best time to eat it as this is when its cooked fresh. I’ve tried both a seafood and vegetarian paella at the Salamanca restaurant, right by the beach. Both tasted perfectly fresh, the seafood one was fantastic and the squid within it is probably the best I have ever tasted.

 

Tortilla Espanola

Not your typical Mexican fajita type tortilla, this one’s an omelette. We tried a Tortilla de Patatas ‘Ocana style’ at the Ocana café. A thick indulgent potato omelette which we devoured in minutes. A regular on tapas menus, tortilla omelettes are sometimes served in a sandwich, perfect for those long sight-seeing days.

 

Empanada

We saw a lot of these in Brazil, understandably, as the roots for this dish can be traced back to both Portugal and the North West of Spain. A folded bread or pastry filled with meat usually and fried, empanadas are a great snack food or mini-meal. We were lucky enough to walk past Annur Halal café and sample a lamb empanada (delicious) and we also squeezed in a taste of a croquetas de pollo (chicken croquette) whilst we were there, making the most of the halal options available!

 

Don’t forget to try the sauces too!

And by sauces I mean the aioli, of course. I recently wrote about our trip to Figueres where I consumed a gravy boat portion of this garlic-infused dip. You’ll find aioli a staple on most menus, usually served alongside the patatas. Somehow, it just tastes sooo much better here than it does back home. So, give it a go! Unless you don’t like garlic. Then it’s a bad idea. A really bad idea.

 

 

Are there any other must try foods when in Barcelona?

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After winning an apartment stay in the GoWithOh Summer competition, I was delighted to finally be planning a second trip to Spain, this time taking Mo with me. When I visited Barcelona with the family, I knew I would have to return with the hubby to show him just how amazing this city is.

We stayed in a Go with Oh apartment last year and I was excited to use them again as we had a really good experience the first time round.

Emails went back and forth between Tiago and I, sending him details of apartments I was considering, only for him to come back with one not on my list. He had taken into consideration what we were planning to do and recommended a place that would be better for us location wise.

He was of course, spot on (should never underestimate the power of local knowledge!).

Our apartment in the L’Eixample (pronounced L’Eshample I believe) area is the ideal place to stay if you’re planning on doing a whole heap of sight seeing, just as we were. Mo and I managed to walk near enough everywhere and if walking isn’t your thing, don’t worry, as the metro stop Urquinaona is three minutes from the apartment.

With me being in and out of hospital the weeks leading up to us going away, I completely forgot to email the apartment owner to request an early check in. It was only once we’d landed at BCN early Wednesday, that I realised the confirmation said to meet at 4:00 pm!

I took a chance and rang the owner to see if we could somehow arrange to meet earlier and thankfully he offered to come there and then for us, saving Mo and I an afternoon of dragging our luggage around. Between my little Spanish and his little English we exchanged some laughs as he showed us round what would be our home for the next five days.

Spacious, lovely balcony, comfortable bed and eating area, the apartment was everything it said on the tin.

I particularly loved the collection of books left on the dresser. Books on Barcelona history, Gaudi, Dali, guide books – in various different languages… lots of interesting reads to relax with after a day out. Plus, the top drawer housed a handy collection of maps and other tourist goodies.

One thing we struggled with in our last location by the Sagrada Familia, was finding nearby restaurants at night to grab a quick dinner. We had no such problem here (the only thing we struggled with was making the decision on where!). Just a ten minute walk heading towards Passaig del Born, there is an abundance of restaurants all open till late in the night.

This apartment is also ideally located for any Muslim travellers – we found a great halal café, Annur Halal, that was perfect for snacks, practically round the corner. If you’re craving a full on halal dinner, then take off on a ten minute walk the other way towards Vila de Gracia and you’ll find all sorts of halal gems dotted around (full post on finding halal food in Barcelona up next week!).

From all the apartment websites I’ve used, I’ve always found Go With Oh the most useful and the quickest to deal with, their response times are great. All the staff are super friendly and always happy to help.

We may not have chosen the most luxurious apartment this time round, but Mo and I both agreed we would pick this one when we return as we really couldn’t ask for a more accessible place to stay.

Looking forward to a potential third visit… 2016??

 

Click here to check out where we stayed

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