Barcelona, a Chocoholics Dream Come True
If you’re anything like me or the millions of other culinary junkies out there, you might plan your vacations around… well, food. In particular, I like to plan mine around desserts! Most people will think Switzerland or Belgium when it comes to chocolate, but Barcelona holds its own in the world of chocolate, desserts and historical Catalan treats.
If the universe were made of chocolate, Barcelona would be at the center of it. With Spain being the first country to experience cacao upon arrival from the new world, as well as the inventor of the first chocolate making machine in 1780, Barcelona has a deep rooted history in chocolate. Strolling the streets around La Rambla and the Barri Gotic in particular, you are certain to wander by and experience Barcelona’s love of chocolate. From the mountains of bonbons filling the stands in the Mercat de la Boqueria, to the old-time favorites such as Dulcinea and Fargas, fancy confections and hot chocolate are commonplace.
Barcelona’s chocolate roots may be traced back much earlier, but the modern story does not really start until 1797 when Chocolates Amatller began crafting their traditional chocolates. Amatller took their craft so seriously that they began to craft their world around chocolate; they even commissioned new paintings to celebrate their chocolates.
A trip to Barcelona for a chocophile would not be complete without a trip to The Chocolate Museum. This dynamic facility is run by the Barcelona Provincial Confectionary Guild and is located in the former Saint Aguste monastery. It provides a journey through the origins of chocolate, its arrival in Europe and its spread as an element between myth and reality, its medicinal properties and nutritional value, relating tradition with the future and forming part of our collective imagination. Upon entrance to the museum, you are given a “ticket” made entirely out of chocolate. This is not for redemption to enter the museum, simply for you to enjoy.
Believe me, I tasted many different types of chocolate during the 3-day period I was touring Barcelona. One shop is better than the next, each with its own little masterpieces. I enjoyed going into these shops, browsing, and then choosing a few to sample. The shop keepers are so passionate about their goods that they normally will engage with you and offer you plenty of samples. I left Barcelona with many different chocolates and confections to share with my family and friends.
As for my favorite dessert, it was hands down a freshly made Nutella crepe from Farggi Gelats, located in the Gothic Quarter. Wow, and wow again. The crepe was thin, light and slightly sweet. The Nutella filling was warm and plentiful, oozing creamy sweetness from all sides of the crepe. Powdered sugar and whipped cream topped off this more than excellent dessert experience.
Gelato is plentiful in Barcelona. I tried a few places and each was quite delicious. Most of the gelato stores have the same flavors, with a few variations at each place. Try the flavors that tickle your fancy and you won’t be disappointed.
The more traditional Catalan desserts are simply divine. Not necessarily chocolate based, they are every bit as delicious.
La Crema Catalana is the most famous traditional dessert and nearly everyone who tires it appreciates it right away. The contrast between the soft cream inside and the light layer of caramel on the top makes it delicious. You can also find Cream Catalana with cinnamon or vanilla. This dessert is made all year long and specifically during the Saint Joseph Day, the 19th of March.
El Mel I mato is a soft dessert made with basic ingredients: cow or goat cheese and honey. The mix between them is very tasty. This dessert is served with grilled nuts to make a contrast with the softness of the cheese.
If this sweet article has left you needing a little savory taste, don’t forget to try the paella. This delicious and traditional dish consists mostly of rice with goodies that may include fruits del mar, sausage, squid ink, vegetables and more. Each restaurant we tried seemed to have their own variations on taste and consistency. Enjoyed together with sangria, paella is a perfect lunch or dinner dish.
Of course you will need a place to stay while dining in Barcelona. If you want to be on Las Ramblas and budget is not a concern, definitely go for the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona. It’s modern with a classic twist. The entrance is on Las Ramblas, but the gardens and pool are away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The service at this hotel is impeccable as it is across the Mandarin Hotel chain. Le Meridien Barcelona is a fabulous spot for leisure and business travelers. It is located closer to the water and just off the street from Las Ramblas. It’s very contemporary and has the absolute best views of the city and the ocean. I highly recommend this hotel for anyone and the price point will fit most budgets.
Ready to travel to Barcelona, Spain? Contact me, Sheri Epstein and I’ll help put your fun trip together.
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