Monday, 1 September 2014

Where to eat Breakfast & Brunch in Barcelona

Most of my time in Barcelona was  spent eating. Forget Gaudi, La Ramblas and the beach- it's all about the food here. But watch out for tourist trap restaurants, serving nothing better than a greasy spoon back home. The key is to plan ahead, and doing so, you can discover some of the most delicious food off the beaten track.

Here are my best places to eat breakfast or brunch in Barcelona. Certainly not tourist traps here.

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El Quim- La Boqueria Market

La Boqueria Market is a large public food market in Barcelona. Selling all kinds of food, from colourful, wacky sweets, to the less pleasant sheep's head. But hidden- and I do mean hidden- near the rear of the market is El Quim; a tiny little restaurant, or more accurately a counter around stoves. But don't let it fool you. The food served here is simply divine. Some of the best cooking I have come across. Eat brunch here and you are in for a treat.

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Tapas style, the food is traditional Catalonia, featuring seafood heavily. Tick off the items you want and hand it over the counter.  

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In Barcelona we noted that its the norm to drink at brunch. A drink before midday? Well if that's how its done here, I'd hate to offend...

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And cheers to my first day of being 23. I look older, but wiser? Doubtful.

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We ordered multiple dishes to share, with the first to arrive being Patatas Bravas. Oh dear lord! Wow.

They were the best Patatas Bravas I have ever had in my life. Oh my gosh, I wish I'd ordered a second portion. I still dream of those.

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Next was 2 cheese and ham croquettes. And so cheesy they were, cheese just oozed out. Delicious. 

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We decided to be adventurous and go for the Calf's head and foot in vinaigrette. Well why not? That's the whole point of food, its to be adventurous and discover new flavours. 

Although maybe not this one so much. I think it was cooked ceviche style and sadly the vinegar was too over powering for me. 

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But onwards and upwards! Next, we were served salty sardines. I love sardines, and sardines love you- they are so good for you. Cooked just right, these again were some of the best.

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Finally we had a great dish. Prawns on fried eggs. Never would I have thought to do this combination, but yes people, its a sure winner!

I can not recommend or rave about El Quim enough! It is on thee of best breakfast/brunches I've possible ever had, including London. Make it your priority. 

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Milk is a bit more 'Our' Breakfast style. Owned by an Irish couple, it is a mixture of eccentric furniture, wall art and topped off with a hearty 'Recovery Brunch'. Just what is needed after a night of one too many Cava's eh?

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I'm still confused as to why anyone would want to drink a bloody Mary, but unlike me, Caroline LOVES them, and so have become a permanent fixture at our brunch tables.

This has to be the most extravagant bloody Mary I've possible ever seen, yet I'm also told its wasn't just a pretty face, but a bloody good, bloody Mary.

Mine on the other hand was a little more... sweet?

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Sugar makes me happy! Cue silly pose.

Although I have no idea what was happening with my hair that day, I look like I've been shocked. You can tell I was out late the night before eh?

Oh OK, cue silly poses all round. Just for you.

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We decided to share two plates, as that way it means more to taste.

We has the American pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. Now not exactly photogenic, but not one to judge a book by its cover, these were good. Fluffy, sweet, with a kick of salty crispy bacon. What more could you ask for?

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I never thought I liked holandaise sauce before. I always found it way to sickly. That's when I discovered that there is good holandaise and bad holandaise. My only prior experience was at a branch of slug and lettuce and I hated it. So when we ordered a round of Eggs Royale I was a tad nervous.

Slowly I cut a small piece of bread, egg and salmon and covered it with sauce. I took a bite and... it was good. So smooth and not overly butterly. It had a great kick of lemon and just enough salt and pepper to add dimension.

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Oh and it comes with a side of potato's. As you do.

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The cafe gets quite busy and you can't reserve so get there a bit earlier as you'll probably have to wait 15 minutes.

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Federal was actually a last minute find for us. We'd plan to go somewhere else, and yet when we turned up, the place was tiny and the menu was pretty uninspiring. Luckily we discovered Federal just around the block. It's run by Australian's which again means you won't find any traditional tapas here, but you will find great breakfasts with a twist.

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It kind of feels like you are walking into someones kitchen. There are open kitchen units and only one giant table, except for the cushion window seats that line the open walls. Taking one of these, we were fully exposed to the world outside, making for excellent people watching.

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Smoothies are a must in my mind for breakfast, with lots to choose from here.

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The menu is pretty extensive with typical breakfast items of toast, eggs and bacon. However everything comes with a slight twist.

We opted for the scrambled eggs, toast, asparagus, halloumi and caramelised onions. Wow is all I can say. Its like all my favourite things in one.

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There was a delicious mascapone and blackcurrant jam croissant, but the most bizarre, but most enjoyed was the scones. Yes that's right, scones for breakfast. Can you tell we are British?

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Once again the food is delicious, and not to be missed.

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Breakfast is certainly the most important meal of the day in my mind, and also my favourite. If you are off to Barcelona, you are in for a treat- the place is foodie heaven. So don't skip breakfast this time folks.

Have a glass of cava and a croissant and some prawns or two... just maybe skip the Calf head yeah?

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Best Afternoon Tea in London


Afternoon tea in Claridge’s is all about the refined, classic tradition. The setting is beautifully elegant, yet relaxing, with sofas and cushions. Served with a pianist whose songs drift sweetly under the chatter, a traditional selection of sandwiches, scones and award winning pastries are presented. There’s a reason why Claridge’s been serving afternoon teas for 150 years.

Afternoon tea is served daily at 3pm, 3.30pm & 5pm or 5.30pm at £50 per person.

Click here for my full review

Sanderson Spa

The Sanderson do a wonderful afternoon tea downstairs in their terrace, however few people know is that you can have it in their Spa. In conjunction with booking a treatment, follow up with their Mad hatters Afternoon Tea. Based on Alice In Wonderland, think kooky fillings, and clock shaped pastries- there's even a mystery bottle entitled 'Drink Me'. Best part is eating in your robes though.

The Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea is served between 12:30pm and 5:30pm, at £38 per person- Ask for the Spa option.

Read my full review here

The Knightsbridge Lounge

The Knightsbridge lounge is a gorgeous little place. It feels cosy and relaxed, with deep sofas to sink yourself into. The Distinctly Knightsbridge Afternoon Tea is influenced by the gardens of Hyde Park- think salmon from the Serpentine and swan shaped pastries. Although with an added twist of a very sugary nature. Think marshmallows and sherbet.

The Distinctly Knightsbridge Afternoon Tea is served between 3pm and 6pm, at £37 per person.

Click to read my full review here

Lane of London

Set in a cosy room overlooking Marble arch and Hyde Park, afternoon tea is an traditional affair. Big pots of tea that are clear so you can watch the brewing tasking place. Cucumber, and egg and cress sandwiches, light buttermilk scones with thick jam, and the most beautiful pastries. A relatively new kid on the block, but not one to be overlooked.

Afternoon Tea is served between 12:30pm and 5:30pm, at £23 per person.

Read my full review here

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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Birthday in Barcelona

Birthdays come once a year, which means they should be spent having the most fun you possible can. It is after all, the one day when people will treat you extra nice. 

Last year I spent it having a rather typical meal with a handful of friends. This year? I hopped on a plane to Barcelona. 

At midday, a taxi picked me up where I met an excited Caroline. We started as we meant to go one, drinking champagne in the taxi, and eating the best brownies ever aka Caroline’s special recipe.

We decided to start with a bang, and flew business class, which meant free bar!

After only 2 hours in the sky, we landed in Barcelona, where we whizzed off the Ohla Hotel. The Ohla Hotel is a new five-star hotel located in the heart of Barcelona, right next to La Ramblas, meaning it was the most perfectly located hotel for nipping to all the sightseeing spots.

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On the roof, is the most amazing terrace, with spectacular views over Barcelona. This is what really sold it to us.
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Just look at that.

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With no time to spare, it was time to get the first birthday drinks round in under their canopy huts.

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After chatting, and giggling away for what seemed like ages, we headed back to our room for a quick change, ready to hit the town.

My outfit comes from Zara and Matalan, which are all well worn staples in my wardrobe.


But the new additions are this gorgeous peridot ring- the birthstone of August- from Gemporia, which I just love. How pretty is it?

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And of course, little red heels from Caroline, from Tatty Devine. So in love with these. 

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We had a bit of time to kill, so setting up the boom box, we blasted out classic tunes and drank champagne. What better way to celebrate a birthday!

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We were fully in the party mood now, and so we headed back upstairs for some more drinks. 

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With more than enough champagne in our systems, we decided to have vodka cocktails at our table. I do love how the Europeans make everything so strong. Wow, we weren’t going to need many of these!

Our one complaint was that the sound system was just so quiet, but fear not, Caroline whipped her boom box out of her bag- seriously, women do carry the most bizarre things in there bags!

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I have never seen sweets before as bar snacks before. London, please take note!

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I'm sure you have that friend too, that you can just chat about anything too. Never is there a dry moment, and usually everything ends in laughs and giggles. Well Caroline is just that, meaning my birthday was an absolute hoot!

After what must have been hours giggling away, we decided to call up a taxi, and head off into Barcelona's bar scene. This is where the camera ends, and probably best too.

I had such a fantastic birthday, and maybe the headache the next day to prove it, but fear not as there was lots of food to aid our recovery's. More on that next time...
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