spanish sun, recap

The man and I went for a blissful week of relaxation in Barcelona. We seem to go to Spain at least once a year, alternating between the perfection of my sister-in-law’s (nice people, great food, and night blooming cactus flowers the size of dinner plates) or a random beach. This was our first real citybreak together and I had booked a glamorous looking hotel through Mr & Mrs Smith.

The hotel falls into that industrial glam camp and gives the sense that it was spectacular when it first opened. Now the cascade of red velvet behind the check out desk is a little tired and the whole joint looks like a matinee idol past her prime. Our room was spacious with a huge bed and fabulous view stretching out over the city. And I always want to move into any place that has air conditioning, rain showers, and an endless supply of sweeties. But the arrangement of mirror and glass was constantly disconcerting. I’m not a fan of architecture that projects a reflection of me in the shower onto an outside window…

Poolside, however, was wonderful. Up on the sixth floor, the pool terrace is an outdoor space that makes you feel poised rooftop even as the hotel continues to climb above. The area around the pool and bar is dark wood decking with pale sun loungers and plush towels. The edges have big orange cushioned cabanas for canoodling or bit of shade. We managed to stop by here for at least an hour each day (although you can’t tell it by our lack of tans).

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Occasionally we bounded out to have a look around. One morning we started at the Sagrada Família and then popped out at metro stop after stop to swoon (that was me, not the man) over art noveau architecture. We stopped for lunch at Tapas 24 where I ate more than my share of the truffled ‘bikini’ sandwich before making the man wait while I added dessert to the pile and then wandered down Las Ramblas to continue my eternal quest for the best stupid magnet. Another day we took the metro to Camp Nou. The California sister-in-law is a hardcore Barça fan so we took our sweet time shopping for a special something or other.

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The rest of the time (between naps and poolside that is) we wandered our little area. When we’re in Spain I drink as many café con leches as I can get my hands on. Although this time it was so hot I strayed to a Fanta Limón more than once. We discovered bombas, the Catalan tapas treat of sauced minced beef inside a breaded ball of mash potato served with mayo and that same goodness drizzled over patatas bravas. I am a total sucker for Spanish food and can’t give it up now that I’m back in England. At least the sun is shining so when I serve tapas tonight it won’t seem too out of place.

We had one fancy dinner in the hotel. Dos Cielos has a Michelin star and is up on the 24th floor of the Hotel Meliá Barcelona Sky. Let me tell you, after a luxurious evening of tasting menu and wine pairings, descending ten floors was about all we could manage. When we confirmed our booking that afternoon, the combination of the super nice hostess and Torres’ charm when we crossed paths revved us up for a great evening. I was not disappointed. We started off with drinks on the terrace which came with seed studded bread sticks and olives filled with anchovy foam. Let me tell you, neither of us even like olives and we left that plate scrapped clean.

Going to the dinning room is routed through the kitchen where everyone smiles and Torres stops to shake your hand on the way in. So I started the evening feeling more like a guest than a customer. At first we had an overly dramatic waiter reciting the dish names like a fledgling Shakespeare actor but we were soon turned over to a more friendly and easy server who kept the flourishes of Michelin service tempered by affection instead of affectation. The first amuse bouche of potato curled around rosemary cream was my favourite dish until we got to dessert. The tasting menu actually sunk heavily in the middle and we needed a break on the terrace to fight through the richness before falling in love with a plate of perfumed cherry and then a tropical dish hinging on a fake banana. (Why were we the only ones chortling with delight?) I wanted to adopt the sommelier, if only so that he can keep our cellar full of whatever that sticky pear scented dessert wine was.

Which reminds me, can anyone push me to good place to buy Spanish wine in London?

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