First of I would just like to say my thoughts go out to those affected by the recent terror attacks in Barcelona. I didn't feel right writing a whole post about the city without acknowledging this awful event. It's heartbreaking to think of Las Ramblas, a thriving busy street in this beautiful city, a street I walked down less than a month ago, as the home to such tragedy. My heart also goes out to those affected by terror attacks all over the world, from the Middle East to Nazis in America, we seem to be living in an age of growing hate. Please whatever you do today try to show love and kindness to a stranger because how else can we begin to build a better world.
So onto the second part of my Barcelona culinary adventure. This week has a few less meals in because a couple of nights I was sick, (just my luck getting ill on holiday) so wasn't really up to eating much.
The seventh day was one of the days I wasn't particularly well, we spent most of the day chilling by the pool, and taking it easy. In the evening me and Jamie stayed in the apartment and decided to try the local deliveroo service. On it we found Teresa's Stairway to Health, a vegetarian restaurant with many vegan options, that does takeout. We ordered the kale Cesar salad, the roasted carrot and avocado salad and the roasted sweet potatoes. The two salads were delicious and quite large portions. I loved the Cesar salad which had apple in, an idea that once again I'm totally nicking, and really delicious smokey tofu. The roasted sweet potatoes were slightly disappointing, they were under done and quite soggy. Plus the oven in our apartment didn't work so we had no way to heat them up.
The next day I went to a water park, Ila Fantasia, just outside of the city with my sister and mum. The food offerings at the park were very basic, mostly burger and chips. I luckily had left over salads from the night before (told you those portion sizes were big) so took those with me. I would advise doing something similar if you plan on visiting any water parks/theme parks ect. That evening we headed to Port Olympic to a Arabic restaurant called Jerusalem. We sat outside in the port overlooking the boats, under a canopy. A lot of people outside were smoking shisha, something to be aware of if you don't like that kind of thing around you when you eat. They were also playing a Barcelona/ Real Madrid game on screens, it wasn't live, just a game from a few days previous, but made for good entertainment while we ate (Me and Jamie love football). I went for the vegetable platter, which included hummus, stuffed vine leaves, falafel, moussaka (aubergine, red pepper and chickpeas in a tomato sauce) and chips. Basically anything falafel and I'm well happy. But this was actually really really good, the moussaka was heavenly and the hummus was some of the best I've had (I've eaten a lot of hummus so this is high praise indeed!) I finished up my meal with a green tea with cinnamon, the perfect end to a great Arabic meal.
Our ninth day was particularly special, and one of my favourites of the whole holiday. We went on a fairly long winding drive out of Barcelona up to the mountain of Montserrat, which has a a Benedictine monastery at the top. It is a stunning place. The views are incredible and we took a funicular railway even further up the mountains. The actual town surrounding the monastery is relatively small, it has a couple of restaurants and cafeterias. We ate in one of this cafeterias as this seemed to offer the best vegan options. Due to the windy roads and high altitude I was feeling pretty sick again so a super basic meal was what I needed. I ended up with salad, jacket potato (they gave me 3 halves absolute luxury!) and a bean salad. It wasn't the most exciting or pretty meal but it was filling and pretty tasty. By the time I got home the toll the travelling had taken on my body was evident, I think as I had been ill a few days before and I really wasn't up for dinner. I got an early night and hit the hay.
The next evening we ate at a Vegetarian restaurant with the whole family. Teresa Carles is rated the best vegetarian restaurant in Barcelona and has loads of great vegan options, which are clearly labelled. It is owned by the same people who run Teresa's stairway to heaven and Flax and Kale (which I didn't manage to get to but have heard amazing things about). I chose the pickle plant based tuna to start; Textured soy, kombu seaweed, olive oil, white wine, apple vinegar, and mediterranean spices, served with toasted bread with tomato. This tasted great, I really liked the pickle flavour but was also slightly odd (haha maybe I just find fish substitutes weird), it was very filling and I didn't eat it all. My mum went for the vegetable tempura which was also vegan, the sheer size of this dish almost put her off, it really wasn't a starter despite being in the starter section, and all holiday she continued to moan (in a jokey way) about the tempura (which was actually pretty tasty, just definitely more a dish to share!). I then went for the vegan lasagna. This was one of the best dishes I ate all holiday, my sister (a meat eater) had it and loved it too. I adored the cashew cheese and the masala chai spiced pumpkin it was stuffed with. Jamie was slightly less impressed with the menu, as the gluten free options were limited and all seemed to contain mushrooms or artichokes, about the only two vegetables he unfortunately hates. He ended up going for the kale salad, which he said was good but I think he would have appreciated something hot. We then of course had to get dessert. Me, Alice and Jamie each got a dessert and then I tried (to eat) everyone else's. Alice went for the vegan snowflake cake, a white chocolate fudge cake with caramelised pear and macadamia nuts. Jamie had the guilty free chocco cake, a gluten free and vegan rice flour cake with chocolate, hazelnuts and a tofu-chocolate mousse. While I had the la copa chia, a chia seed pudding made with fresh almond and coconut milk and vanilla, served with fresh fruit. All the deserts were indulgent and divine.
Our 11th day involved another trip out of Barcelona to a Roman town with an amphitheatre called Tarragona. The town itself is lovely, very quaint and feels traditionally Spanish. Jamie and I ate our final dinner alone together here at a vegan restaurant called El Vergel. The decor and atmosphere of this restaurant are stunning, minimal whites with colour introduced through lots of plants and greenery. I started with a cauliflower and truffle mouse topped with artichokes, and then had a vegan cheese and chorizo pizza. Both dishes were amazing. The starter felt so luxurious, I loved the truffle. While the pizza was super tasty and filling, I was unsure what I would think of the vegan chorizo but I was pleasantly surprised as it took the smokey paprika flavour of chorizo without being a strange replica meat substance. I took two slices home for lunch the next day of course. Jamie had a risotto which he really enjoyed. This was my favourite restaurant that we ate at the whole holiday, the food was sensational and it was all really reasonably priced, costing just € 17.50 for a starter, main and dessert.
And so to our last full day in Barcelona. We were all very sad to leave the city behind. It's funny isn't it, we didn't go that long ago but it feels like a life time ago. I suppose that's the way with holidays, the fun's over in a flash. We all wanted to eat together on the last night, my mum and dad were eager to return to their favourite restaurant of the holiday, Cafe de L'aca Demia. The menu itself had no vegan dishes on, but my mum phoned up in advance and they said they could definitely accommodate for vegans. Tucked away in the narrow streets of the Gothic region this place has character by the bucketful. Obviously my choices were limited, as they don't have any vegan options on their regular menu. But I had ratatouille (normally a side dish) to start and a vegetable rice with green olives for main which is normally served with cheese. Both dishes were fairly simple, but they were full of flavour and really quite tasty. The staff were very accommodating and went out of their way to please me. While this probably wouldn't be my first choice of destination for vegan food I did have a charming meal and I spent the last night with the whole family. And I know they all really enjoyed their food.
And so that's the end of my Catalan culinary journey, I ate some amazing food while I was away and came back feeling really inspired in the kitchen. Now to put that inspiration into my blog posts. I will return to Barcelona at some point, it's a vibrant diverse buzzing city and somewhere that is very close to me heart. I hope if you are heading there any time soon you have found this useful, or perhaps this has inspired you to take your own Spanish adventure!