Archive | October, 2012

El Xampanyet, Barcelona

20 Oct

This place was recommended to me by one very good friend, one very reliable guide book and one client who seems to know everything there is to know about Barcelona. We had to give it a try.

El Xampanyet is a gem. Situated opposite the Picasso Museum, it is the epitome of traditional Catalonia. It serves delicious own-brewed champagne and local cava in traditional 1920’s glasses for just three Euros a pop, which was enough to get me there without the food! But the tapas is to die for. Just a few of the tapas we tried; delicious red peppers stuffed with cheese and garlic, muscles, chorizo, traditional cheeses…and the rest I can’t remember (see above for comment about the bubbly.)

Our first visit to El Xampanyet was on a Wednesday evening and it was manic. Due to its traditional values, it’s a very informal kind of place; a long bar with no seats, right in front of the food where locals squeeze in shoulder to shoulder, chomp on the delicious food and chat to the friendly chaps rushed off their feet behind it. There are tables but I’m not entirely sure how you get one at rush hour – it’s every man for himself. We stayed for one drink and one round of tapas, but after a 3am get up to catch the Ryanair that morning, we weren’t really in the mood for a scrum, so we left.

The following Sunday, we were having a stroll around the gorgeous Port Vell in the stunning sunshine. It was jam-packed full of cruise shippers and the restaurants were full, so we walked back up to La Ribera to have another go at El Xampanyet and we couldn’t have timed it better. The place shuts between 4pm and 7pm for a well-earned siesta and we arrived around 3.30pm. The crowed started to clear, we grabbed a table and rather than be ushered out on the dot of 4pm, we stayed for a bit of a lock in, enjoying at least three more rounds whilst the doors were shut and everyone else drunk up. Bliss.

Well worth a try.

Lock in at El Xampanyet, Barcelona

Best Barcelona food: Nem Sitges

6 Oct

Don’t panic, during our trip to Barcelona, the boy and I managed to find some excellent eateries.

The first one I’d like to tell you about was actually about 30 miles outside of Barcelona in a lovely seaside town called Sitges.  It’s a very gay-friendly party town with a gorgeous church on the seafront and some lovely bars and restaurants. Whilst I had a lovely time there, it’s lacking a little bit of that authentic Spanish charm that we’d seen previously during our holiday, however, restaurant Nem is well worth a visit to Sitges, if you go for no other reason.

Nem calls itself a tapas bar and to an extent, it is. The small but perfectly formed menu is made up of sharing plates. Six was enough between the boy and I, but there wasn’t a patatas bravas in sight. The dishes are fusion style, Spanish inspired for sure, but with some British influences, unsurprisingly, given that the lovely owner and chef is a super authentic cockney. The menu changes monthly, depending upon the local delicacies in season.

The dishes we chose included; a warm tomato and cheese salad with fab home-made pesto, brie and mushroom tart, beef carpaccio, steak and blue cheese salad with pears and walnuts,bonito with tomato salsa and Catalan tomato bread. They were all incredible, so fresh and tasty.

And if that wasn’t enough, pudding came tapas style, too. We ordered a vanilla custard dish and french toast. Stunning. Coupled with a lovely bottle of rose, the whole meal was less than 50 Euros, and one of the most delicious I’ve ever had.

Yum.

The steak, amazing