Alfajores-Inspired Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Sandwiches

chocolate alfajores

Dulce de leche ice cream sandwiched between soft chocolate cookies

Visiting a new bakery is one of my favourite things in the world. There’s the smell, seeping out of the doors and into the surrounding street; yeast and warmth, toasty sweetness, the scent of burnt sugar. Then there’s the sound: busy bakers chatting with customers; slicing crusty loaves; sliding purchases into crinkled paper bags. The soft sound of teeth meeting flaky pastry.
Eyes definitely bigger than my stomach and thinking, perhaps, I could try a little taste of everything, I’ll then drink in the feast in front of me: lines of loaves stacked against a bare brick wall, tiers of incredible cakes, trays of pastries issuing forth from the oven and, further forward, a cabinet of sweets and treats, biscuits on offer in every imaginable shape and size.

Chocolate Palmiers, Palmeras or Elephant Ears

palmiers

Light, flaky puff pastry layered with crunchy sugar & cocoa

Three years ago Carnivorous Boyfriend and I moved into a proper, grown up flat. Not halls of residence or a dodgy dive in an ‘up and coming’ part of the city; no enormous numbers of people, fighting over fridge space or arguing about whether a cleaning rota should be created; just our very own oasis in the heart of all the madness that is London.

While I’d lived away from home since finishing university, it never felt properly permanent. A few essential items would always travel with me – clothes, cookbooks, my favourite photos and the small selection of items purchased at Ikea that I imagine haunt every university graduate until they can afford to invest in something a little more exciting. Continue reading

Orange & Pistachio Magdalenas

magdalenas

Magdalenas have a unique fluffy texture setting them apart from muffins or cupcakes

Breakfast.

The most important meal of the day.

The secret to better brain functionality, staying healthy, lowering blood sugar levels and preventing obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol.

The perfect excuse to indulge in the pleasure of eating when you are truly hungry.

There’s nothing more satisfying than a good breakfast. In the working week I tend to rotate between different combinations of fruit, nuts, seeds and cereal, adding in yoghurt or milk for protein or substituting in homemade toast with smashed avocado or a scrape of salty butter if I fancy something savoury.

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Lolita Taperia, Barcelona

taperia lolita

Lolita Taperia: One of my favourite tapas bars in Barcelona

Barcelona, 9.30pm. The sun just set, abandoning its heat to the baked metal and stone which make up the city; the breeze gentle, welcome as it wraps itself around limbs kissed from a day spent in the sun; the light soft and slowly fading, inviting diners to head inside for food and drinks, to browse menus and discuss their days.

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Gelonch Restaurant, Barcelona

gelonch_chorizo_calamari

Fried quail’s egg with sea anemone, baby calamari, migas of chorizo, asparagus & roasted garlic cream

It may not actually be in the city itself, and it may have closed for the next two years, but the influence of world-leading restaurant El Bulli is still very much at the forefront of Barcelona’s burgeoning gastro scene. This is a city for foodies, with thousands of restaurants and numerous Michelin stars, the majority of which have been awarded to chefs who have trained with, or under, Ferran Adrià at some point in their career.

A couple of weeks ago Carniverous Boyfriend and I spent two wonderful weeks in Barcelona, soaking up the sights of the city, the sounds of Sonar Festival and lots of sunshine. We also ate extremely well – I’d done a fair bit of research through guidebooks and the blogosphere, resulting in some fabulous meals at Tapas 24, Can Majó and Tickets, amongst others. However, one of our most interesting and exciting – if slightly bizarre – meals took place in a tiny orange dining room tucked away in the quiet back streets of Dreta de Eixample. Continue reading

Tapas24, Barcelona

Tapac_24

Yum yum indeed!

Pairing food and wine can be difficult, but when you get it right, it’s absolutely worth it. Some flavours just work together; fresh shellfish with crisp cold rosé, slabs of steak with a bold red Bordeaux or tangy Asian flavours against the mineral spice of Riesling. Perfectly good in their own right, these foods take on a new level of depth and deliciousness when matched with wine.

Falling into a slightly less glamorous category are the foods which, some might argue, taste better after wine (or beer, vodka, whisky, insert celebratory drink of choice here). I’m talking about illicit midnight fridge foraging, the rumble of hunger in your stomach as you head home after a party or evening at the pub, when a certain salty, greasy goodness is required to tickle your tastebuds and satisfy your cravings. This is the time for cheese toasties oozing melted middles on sticky fingers, hot buttered toast, crispy chips and bacon sandwiches.

Which brings me nicely onto Tapas24, the much-lauded latest venture in Michelin starred ex-El Bulli almuni Carles Abellan’s Projectes24 stable. Bear with me, there is some reason behind my rambling . . .

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Crema catalana, turrón and a recipe for blondies

blondie_recipe_spanish

Blondies with turron

Spain isn’t a country renowned for its desserts. On a recent trip to Barcelona, the majority of our sweet consumption was split between flaky treats from the local pastelerías at breakfast time and a requisite daily ice cream; justified as compulsory thermostat control on the sweltering beach or busy streets. Maybe the rest of the food and drink on offer is just too good; after wedges of tortilla, melting plates of jamón, rich, creamy croquetas and raisin scented sherry, dessert might well be the last thing on your mind.

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The best seafood and paella in Barcelona? A review of Can Majó

can_majo_barcelonaA couple of months ago Carniverous Boyfriend’s Dad took us skiing in Baqueira Beret, a Spanish resort in the Aran Valley. Out for drinks in a local bar one night, we bumped into a group of snowboarders from Barcelona (about five hours south of the resort) and decided to pick their brains before our upcoming visit in June. When I asked where to go for great seafood and paella, their answer was unanimous; Can Majó.

Once back in the UK, I got stuck into Google, downloaded a couple of Barcelona apps, and started researching what and where to eat. Remembering the Spaniards’ advice, I looked up Can Majó and discovered that it’s something of a Barcelona institution. Continue reading

Lucky Tickets: A review of Ferran Adrià’s Tickets and 41°, Barcelona

tickets_outside

The hottest Tickets in town . . .

Barcelona is a foodie haven. Sandwiched between the mountains and the Mediterranean, its menus combine the very best of land and sea; from tiny mouthfuls of tapas to huge plates of paella, there’s enough to keep even the greediest of gastronomes happy. Variety is the order of the day, and spontaneity a must – there’s nothing more fun than diving into a random bar for a plate of pinxtos and cheap copa of cava.

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