Summer escape to Barcelona
Our annual summer shutdown gives us a chance to unwind and, to a certain extent, try not to think about work. However, we are in this business because we love food, and most days are structured around visits to bars, restaurants, food markets and, of course, bakeries.
Our first port of call in Barcelona is always la Boqueria, the biggest food market in the city, located just off the Ramblas. Our boys love the pick and mix display in the entrance, and the market is geared much more towards tourists than it used to be, with dozens of stalls selling fresh fruit juices and ready-to-eat portions of jamón Serrano and Manchego cheese. However, it remains a place where the people who live nearby, and some of the city’s best chefs, come to shop. The best approach is to head straight for the centre, where you will find the most amazing variety of fresh fish and seafood that will make you wish you had something like this back home.
We had a few bakeries on our list to have a look at, and chose a couple in the same neighbourhood, the Eixample, on the first day. The first was Turris, one of a small chain of bakeries started by Xavier Barriga, a lifelong baker who has published a few books on bread. It’s a smart shop, separated by glass doors from the bakery in the back. This gave us a chance to check out the equipment they use and the way they organise their working space.
We bought a rodò, a round loaf baked on the oven floor with an open crumb. It is fermented over a long period and has a nice acidity in the finish. We also picked up one of their summer specials, a spinach, carrot and lentil loaf.
From there we walked to Cloudstreet Bakery. This is quite a new business started by Tonatiuh Cortés, a musicologist-turned-baker. There has been a bakery on the site for a long time, and they still use the original wood-fired oven, which gives the bread a light smoky flavour.
We bought a classic pa de pagès, or country loaf. Smuggling slices of these breads into the hotel breakfast for the next few days improved it a great deal.
The next day we headed down to the Barceloneta area, the old fishing district of the city. We wanted to tick off the last bakery on our wish list, Baluard, run by Anna Bellsolà. Our son Charlie had also started a blog where he wanted to review bakeries and their products (mycrumbylife.wordpress.com) and wanted some material for a post.
This is a beautiful bakery. You can watch the bakers working away behind a glass partition, and their wood-fired oven is fantastic. The sole of the oven rotates. You turn the wheel on the front to move it as you fill the oven with bread.
We loved the way they displayed the bread, piled up on a high counter.