Thursday 2 March 2023

A perfect self-guided tour of some Barcelona chocolate and patisserie shops

In January, I made a lovely trip to Barcelona, a city I have visited many times now as we have family living there.  I am always on the look out for interesting chocolate wherever I go, and as it has been three years since my last visit (that pesky COVID) I wondered if there was any new choc on the block.  When I visited Salon du Chocolat in Paris last year, there was a stand for the Bean to Bar Chocolate Association for Spain – which was interesting and indicated that there is a rising movement of craft makers in Spain – so I was optimistic for this trip to Barcelona.

I did some searching on the internet before the trip, and I also had a look at the Bean to Bar Association website for some suggestions.  I came across a chocolate journalist on that site, Nerea Prieto de Apraiz (@nereachocolate), who is Barcelona- based – so I wrote to ask for her local advice.  She is so lovely – lots of very good advice but also an invitation to meet for coffee.  What a treat – we chatted for ages, I learned so much from her both about the scene in Spain, but also about her own work and plans, and about the sector overall.

So the guided walk; this started  where we agreed to meet for coffee – L’Atelier in Eixample district of the city – I plotted out other places of interest and realised that they were all only 10 or 15 minute walks from each other and so a day of delights mapped out before me.  Barcelona is a lovely city to walk around – you go from small residential streets to grand boulevards at the turn of a corner, there are Gaudi pavement tiles to fascinate at your feet, elegant pavement cafes to tempt you, always a copa de cava available whenever you feel the need.  It was cold in Barcelona this January, so walking and chocolate eating/buying were definitely a good combination.

1.  L’Atelierthis is where Nerea and I met – a very elegant coffee and patisserie shop, with the most eye-catching of ‘cakes’ and chocolates.  They are famous for their hot chocolate as well; weirdly for a chocolate maker, I don't really like hot chocolate (I know, how did they let me in?), but have to say this was delicious – no cornflour, not too heavy on milk – rich, warming and very chocolatey.  The patisserie are so, so elegant   I am not really qualified to judge these – just ‘Wow’ really – I am fascinated by the whole realm of patisserie but rarely have the time, patience, expertise or equipment to make these layered extravaganzas.  And very few opportunities to sample them either!  The craftsmanship in these little works of art was breathtaking - I know my photos don't do them any justice - but, for example, the cactus in the flower pot had a chocolate pot, and the cactus shell was chocolate as well - filled with layers of ganaches, cakes, mousses.T he Director of the business, Eric Ortuno was there, and he kindly showed us around the whole place – it extended on and on behind the shop – with kitchens where a busy team were creating more patisserie and deserts, and then ever onward to the back where there is a patisserie school.  Amazing.

2, Cacao Sampaka This was to be my next stop, but as I had spent so much time (and eaten so much patisserie) at L’Atelier, I skipped it (always another time) and went straight to Lot Roasters.  

3. Lot Roasters: coffee and chocolate roasters, and really the chic-est space I have ever been in; it was all stainless steel cabinets and tables, in a high ceilinged old shop – with crooked floor tiles and whitewashed walls.  Even the espresso machine is the coolest thing I have ever seen (remember I live in Kenmore – I think I am allowed to get excited about an elegant espresso machine).  The photo here does none of it justice and nor does it represent how generous Ursula was in guiding me through what they do.  She offered me coffee that tasted of cocoa beans fermenting (a smell I adore – winey, earthy, fruity), cold brew cocoa husk tea, cocoa fruit juice (so refreshing) and some very special chocolate.  It was all amazing – and I loved both their packaging, their presentation, their passion and expertise.  Really worth a visit if in Barcelona.

4.   Museum of Xocolata:  you could factor in lots of time for this museum – I have visited in the past and they now have a whole Bean to Bar section as well – so there is even more to see.  They have a great café and shop if you just want to pop in – and a lovely range of their own single origin bean to bar chocolates

5.  Hofmann Patisserie:  there was a queue outside this tiny shop, so I peeked in through the window only (and took a quick photo).  Famous (clearly – hence the queue) for exceptional patisserie (my daughter informs me that their raspberry croissant is one of the wonders of the world), the 'cakes' on display in the window were truly exceptional.  Through the window I could see that they had a chocolate section at the back of the shop - again, a return visit is needed to explore further, 

6.  Bubo: The last of my tour – again a lot of patisserie – brightly coloured and bold, contemporary designs. This was a little cheaper than the other patisserie; busy, so there was no chance to ask questions – but their chocolates looked really interesting and I think a visit early to mid afternoon would have been quieter and better to be able to ask more questions, as well as to try some of their cakes.

The last three are on the edge of the Gothic quarter and so the shops are very busy, and draw many tourists..  I think I started my tour too late (1.30pm) so if I was doing it again – I would set off at 10 – to enable more time at each and more time to wait if busy.  You do see a lot of the city, v\you are visiting and supporting artisan local businesses, and feasting your eyes as well as your tastebuds.   If you would like to follow this route, I have tried to make a more detailed map online - just follow this link.

Thanks so much to Nerea for her time, friendship and advice; to Eric and his staff at L’Atelier for their time; to Ursula at Lot Roasters for her time and generosity.

1 comment:

  1. Kudos to you for sharing self guide about the bean to bar Craft Chocolate! Keep up the excellent work...