Peras al vino especiado

cook & tastecafe con lecheThough it was a little bit of a splurge given the student budget I was travelling on, my day at Cook & Taste Barcelona was well worth it in my books. My friend Jane and I got up early to grab our cafes con leche on the way, and then arrived at Cook & Taste’s lovely space in the heart of Barcelona’s gothic quarter. (SO lovely. I wanted to stay and live in their kitchen.)cook and taste (5)cook & tasteWe started with a little exploring through La Boqueria. I had walked through Barcelona’s famous market a few times before, but it was great to go with our guide/teacher/food-guru for the day, María José, as we stopped to speak to each of the vendors while buying our ingredients. Jane had to jet off to Italy, so I was on my own for the cooking part of the day but my “classmates” were all super fun and friendly. I made friends with a lovely Dutch couple as we prepared mussels for the paella, and seemed to mistify a couple of nice older men from Scandinavia as to why on earth I was traveling by myself, chatted with a fellow Canuck about a certain crack smoking mayor that was making headlines at the time, and bonded with the two Aussie sisters who were charged with making sure everyone had full wine glasses. Everyone was kept busy with tasks in the kitchen and the day went by quickly. Though I had made a couple of the dishes on our menu before, it was great to follow along with a professional. We spent a couple hours getting everything ready, and then enjoyed our delicious little feast starting with tortilla de patatas con pan con tomate, salsa romesco with seasonal vegetables, the showstopping giant pan of paella de marisco, and finishing with these beatuiful burgundy pears.cook and tastecook and taste Click to continue reading…

Barcelona, Slowly

tibidabobodega del poblet mirrorThe first time I went to Barcelona I arrived with a long list of things to see and do. I had done a fair amount of research, and had just read “The Shadow of the Wind” so was itching to wander through the Gothic quarter to find the landmarks described in the eerie novel. I’m not even close to organized most of the time, but I like to travel with a skeleton of a plan. It was a wonderful trip, but jam packed.barcelona's zebrasbarcelonetaguelleveningThis second trip was more relaxed. I was joining friends from Huelva who had plans to visit the city, so I followed their schedule and left the guidebooks at home. We walked a lot — admired Gaudi’s handiwork, wandered without a destination, napped on the beach, and explored side streets. I went for an early morning run down Avinguda Diagonal while the streets were still being cleaned and before the rest of the city was caffeinated. We climbed for views, and cooked in our hostel with Beyoncé blaring. Found sunsets and drank in a bar where the only light came from twinkling Christmas lights when their power went out.beautifulbarcelona We ate the best tostadas in a quiet sunny plaza in the old Jewish quarter…tostada

Gorged on tapas at a little family owned restaurant, Bodega del Poblet. Which, miraculously, is only steps away from La Sagrada Familia and was still very “authentic” — picture our server yelling to the back of the restaurant, “Mama. Mamaaa!” to find out if food was coming, and the owner slicing meat just oustide the washrooms…it was great.bodegadelpobletAnd finally, after a several different impressive tapas at Bar del Pla, I had a dessert called simply “El chocolate” (THE chocolate) that lived up to its name and then some. bar del plaIt’s a city worth savouring.
bodega del pobletbarceloneta stroll

Stamp Your Passion Passport [Barcelona a Year Ago]

barcelona2güellJust over a year ago I was on my first budget airline flight ever, heading from Sevilla up to Barcelona. And thus began my great love for Ryanair….Just kidding. I have a love/hate relationship with that (sometimes) crazy cheap airline.guell2The ceiling could almost steal the show at the Palau de musica The ceiling could almost steal the show at the Palau de musica[/caption]flamencoIn any case, Barcelona was a blast. And one of the great things about my weekend in Catalonia is that I got to spend it with Zach. I had met Zach a few weeks earlier in Madrid through my twin brother. Zach mentioned that he was planning to head to Barcelona the next month and invited me to tag along. I was thrilled: Barcelona was high on my travel wish list, and now I had a cool travel buddy.fcbarcelonagoal!Zach at work. Zach at work

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Tasty Traveling [Spiced Date Lemon Cake]

I’m going to Barcelona this weekend! I’ve heard so many great things, I’m very excited to explore the city.  I’m a bit of a grazer and like to have snacks on hand while I’m running in between activities.  Because I don’t want to get hangry (hungry + angry, for those of you who don’t ever get that way) when I travel either, I always have a granola bar or something in my purse.  I’m flying with Ryanair this weekend, and while it seems true that their prices are unbeatable, I’ve heard that there is no way they give out snacks on those flights so I’m making sure to pack my own! This dense, moist cake will be accompanying me on my way to Barca. Que rico!

With the excitement of finally getting an oven in our apartment, I headed out to get some basic baking supplies.  I was fairly successful but things like pure vanilla extract or 100% cocoa powder seemed way out of my price range and I could not for the life of me find measuring spoons, so I figured I would have to become good at guesstimating and making use of what I have! I had some dates already and modified a few recipes I found online t to come up with this really simple and really tasty spiced date lemon cake with almonds.  This cake requires only a few main ingredients and doesn’t use any butter, which excited me because I’m getting frugal like that. Spiced Date Lemon Cake