Un Americano y un cafe amb lait…

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Or, Barcelona bars & cafes.

An Americano is also un grande cafe solo i.e. a large black coffee. A cafe amb lait (which I pronounce by pretending it is a cafe au lait) is a milky coffee. It’s important to get these things sussed early on. Dos cervesa, por favor is easier but also less important. Also, the latter is in Espanol rather than Catalan. Here, in no especial order, are some of the bars and cafes we visited.

Cafe Zurich
At the top of Las Ramblas, this is an old-school cafe. So old-school that I can’t even bring myself to call it “old-skool”. This was where we tended to end up when we needed a little pep up mid afternoon/early evening. The coffee is excellent but the real joy are the waiters. We had plenty of fun playing “spot the waiter who is merely in his 30s” as the majority were older. They were all fast, slick and professional. When I ordered dos cafe amb lait, y un torte he ran down a list with practise, doubtless guessing I would go for the chocolat. When it arrived he handed me the slice of cake and gave the chap a small fork as “you may have a little”.

Cafe de l’Opera
Another old-schooler, more old time waiters but this time halfway down Las Ramblas. It has some lovely fin-de-sicle interior work and a great chocolate lime green paintjob.

Cafe Schilling
In the Gothic quarter, this place has dark wood furniture and peeling distempered walls along with quite a metro crowd stopping in for a drink or two. The service is variable but the bar snacks are delicious. They did a superbly filling vegetal sandwich with goat’s cheese, along with a great hummous option. The beer is Damm, which is fine, and the coffee was good.

Milk bar toilet decor Cocktails with serious punch, and very filling bistro food. They also did good veggie food, happily producing dishes sin pollo for me. Another good interior, dark and mellow, with comic book pages decorating the toilet walls and velvet curtains hiding things. The second visit was a bit let down by an Irish bar bore and his pal but we just moved on.

Not a bar or a cafe but an Indian restaurant. This is one of my “known places”, somewhere I go back to when I return to a city. That’s often on the first night, when we’re still settling in and I don’t feel like searching out some place in a backstreet. Milk, for example, is up a narrow backstreet and the chap was suspicious of my map-reading until we found the place.
Placa Villa de Madrid, where Govinda is, was all dug up when I was last here in 2001. Now the rennovations are finished part of the square is still excavated, revealing remains of the Roman city beneath.
Govinda does a mighty fine Thali, and the owner will spice the meal up for British diners. A medium here is a mild back home, mind.

Everywhere else we stopped in were just cafes or bars near where we were when we got hungry. As always, I enjoyed a fair few queso bocadillos, which is my default choice when faced with little or no veggie choice. Barcelona is a city which suits grazing: you can wander for hours and nearly always find a place to stop when you have the need. And I love any culture which doesn’t eat till 10pm at the earliest. (She says about to go downstairs and start cooking at 9pm.)

At some point, I shall rave about modernista architecture. However, in the meantime here is footage of the Magic Fountain playing up to Rachmananov. I love this thing with a childish glee. You may be able to hear my little squeaks of amusement.

Guess Where I’ve Been?

Monday, 2 October 2006

Cliche No. Une Bonjour, mes amis…

Back from a long weekend in Gay Paree (more photos here). The hotel was in Pigalle, which meant I was nervous for the duration of the journey over in case it turned out to be as dodgy as the one which I stayed in back when I was an art student. Luckily, the Ville Royale was pretty damn good. Right over the Place de la Pigalle, and thus overlooking some fun neon signs for dubious nightclubs, so that we could wander up the hill to the Sacre Coeur and a rather fab Vietnamese restaurant found last year. Saturday was wandering the Left Bank before getting caught in a massive thunderstorm.

Sunday was the first of the month so free entry to the museums. I begged to go back to L’Orangerie. I first visited it in one of my penniless student days, when I didn’t have the francs to get into a big museum and have enough espressos to fuel me through the day, and had been stunned by Les Nymphéas. So when I read that the renovations were over and the gallery had reopened… I had to see it again. Then on to the Musée D’Orsay before settling into Le Fumoir for cocktails and a luscious meal.

Summer shoes

Monday, 31 July 2006

new shoesI got these today, since I’m off to two festivals within zones 1 & 2 (the free fruitstock in Regent’s Park and the rather less free Get Loaded in the Park in Clapham). Years of working outdoors makes me nervous about wearing flimsy shoes at festivals, but converse all-stars get all sweaty. So these cheap things are a compromise. Which rub my heels, but that can be fixed with tape.

London is way too sweaty at the moment, hence the need for new footwear. We were at a party at Cubana in Lower Marsh on Saturday night, very rapidly decamping to the street outside. At almost 1am, the humidity was still hugging us close, pricking at the skin and making you dream of cool rain. No such luck.

I’ve also discovered something rather smart. There are many ways to get from Devon to London. The megabus and megatrain are the cheapest but longest and least flexible. The 21 quid apex on the Waterloo train is good if you can get it, and Waterloo is rather handy if working in Westminster/Lambeth. But right now I’m going for the Paddington line – more expensive but barely over 2 hours and I’m going to Norf London anyway. And I just discovered that not only are two superadvancethingy singles cheaper than one saver return, but that you can – if lucky – get two first class singles for less than a standard saver return. More space, less children, getting into Paddington at the front of the train…

but why is the rum gone?

Monday, 8 May 2006

nuclear Cosmopolitan My love of cocktails is well documented. I might be nervous about Cooking Like a Grown Up, but point me at some cocktail ingredients and I’ll mix you up something. My cosmopolitans are positively nuclear in their glow.

In The Girl in the Fireplace, the Doctor claims to have invented the Banana Daiquiri two centuries early. Which is possible – certainly more possible than me repeatedly typing banana daiquiri without falling into typing the Pratchettian banananananana daiquiri – since both rum and, iirc, bananas were around in the 1740s. Although admittedly the only rum then available was dark (and therefore considered suitable only for the working classes) and bananas were very rare in Europe…sorry, getting distracted by historical details, again.

The OG squee daiquiri In the interests of Science therefore (that science being mixology), I had a go tonight. I tried to make it with:
2 x shots white rum
1 x small banana, sliced
juice of 1/2 lime
juice of 1/2 orange*
dash of apple juice*

The orange is to replace the triple sec (based on the fact that some recipes replace triple sec with cointreau which is orange flavoured) and the apple juice is to sweeten as I am also out of bar sugar.

Put the ingredients into a jug. Smoosh with hand-blender till smooth. Pour into cocktail glass.

After the all important taste test, I think it does need either the triple sec, cointreau or a third shot of white rum.

I am starting to consider creating a cocktail to match each episode of the new series. Although a banana daiquiri is mentioned in GitF, I don’t think it is quite the right drink to go with it. It needs some bitters to match the romance, perhaps more lime…? I’m not a fan of heavy fruit cocktails, anyway, prefering clear ones such as the Hemingway Daiquiri.


Tuesday, 3 May 2005

Kelly is here, Kelly is here! La la la! Law’s written about last nightalready. Whilst they do touristy things in sensible shoes, I shall have my head down with a final manic burst of exorcism on the novel. Seems my “slight overrun” is a problem. Grr.

Lining up the Cosmopolitans

I have alcoholic-induced fuzzy mouth. Sunday night I went to Carrie’s for cocktails. My Cosmopolitans looked radioactive, so I think I need to rethink the recipe. I also made Brassy Blondes (citroen vodka, cointreau and pineapple juice) which were quite sweet. Then last night we knocked back a bottle of Castillo de Diablo and some white wine whilst munching on snack foods and watching Black Books.

Law’s cat, the Reverend, is much smaller than he looks in photos. Or maybe I’ve just become used to Sébastian’s largeness. Except Carrie’s two seemed quite small on Sunday and I know her Scully used to be big. Have I adopted a monster?

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