It might not be the best idea to start studying Catalan when my Spanish isn't perfect yet. However, I really enjoy learning new languages and I hear people speaking Catalan wherever I go and I don't want to miss out. So I started a free course on parla.cat and I got a level A1 book from the local library. It's the perfect book for me as it tells stories from a fictional café in Raval and it even has a fake menu which is great for learning food vocabulary. Strangely enough, in the drawings (yes, the book has drawings, because no matter how old you are, if you're a beginner you get drawings) the fictional café looks a lot like one of my favourite cafés here in Barcelona, El Colectivo, in Carrer del Pintor Fortuny. Coincidence?
I've been to the Cines Verdi a few times now and whenever I went I really enjoyed the walk there from the Metro stop and back but as I didn't want to be late for the films, I never took the time to slow down and look at everything. Yesterday evening it was still nice and sunny and warm and so I decided to just go for a walk around Gràcia. I didn't have to go far to make some great discoveries and the weren't even cake related. In a mostly second hand bookshop on Carrer de Verdi I found a cookbook in Catalan about Vegan French cuisine. It's not that I'm excited about vegan cooking but I just never would have thought a book like this ever existed. Later I found another second hand bookshop in Carrer del Montseny dedicated to English literature (and small shelves of other European languages as well) which is great because so far none of my Spanish friends have been able to recommend me a good book in their native language. So I'm still on the hunt for that.
And at the end of my stroll I discovered a beautiful, little garden on Carrer d'Astúries hidden behind one of the organic shops. I only went inside because I thought they might sell nice notebooks (which they didn't but they did have some nice special edition novels amongst many other things). A small hut in the garden indicates that maybe they're serving coffee there during the day. I'll definitely come back again. Now all I hope is that this garden is not featured in every travel guide and blog already.
Another hot day in Barcelona. Well, for the Catalan people it's also their National Day today. So after watching three different castells (human towers) being built I decided to find shelter in the shade again. I'm slowly adding the missing recipes of my London Cakes, trying to do one a day.
I'm also thinking about new recipes as I have stocked up on ingredients at one of my favourite shops in Barcelona. Imagine two really long shelves of almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios etc., chocolate in 1kg bags, nut pastes, dried fruit, different kinds of sugars...it's good! One of my teachers told me about it last year when I was doing a Spanish course here. I wanted to take the shop with me to London. It's probably the real reason why I moved to Barcelona. Check it out yourself, "Productos Parami" is just around the corner from the university on Carrer de la Diputació, 204. They're also selling turrón and their own cakes there, which I have yet to try.
Barcelona has welcomed me with a record breaking heat wave and I appreciate the effort. I'm getting a good taste of what summer will be like here. However, after almost seven years of many grey days and only the odd sunny week in London, I'm not complaining. (Don't worry London, I still really, really like you!)
The high temperatures haven't stopped me from trying out the "nostalgic" gas oven in my new flat. And I'm so happy it turned out well on my first trial! I'm very relieved because this means I can stay in this beautiful flat which I'm already quite attached to. I found a mini palette knife in the kitchen, this must be a sign for me to stay anyway!
For the first trial run with the gas oven I went with a safe choice, one of my favourite flavour combinations, chocolate, almond and orange. I've uploaded the result as my first "Barcelona Cake" including the recipe. The measurements for the ingredients aren't 100% exact as I have no scale yet and just used my eyes like my mum does when she makes her amazing marble cake. So you'll just have to trust me on this one.