Spain’s Best Feature

Before I arrived in Spain, I had heard that Churros dipped in Chocolate were a good dessert to try while traveling there. What I failed to realize, is that Churros and Chocolate are everywhere, can be eaten at anytime (not just dessert), are made different ways, and are possibly the best invention ever.

Churros in Barcelona: The first churros I tried were in Barcelona at a place called Petritxol-Xocoa Café. Quentin and walked along the small streets of El Born to small little street called Calle Petritxol where we found a cute little shop with tons of sweets in the window. It was 10:30 in the morning and we were the only customers in the shop. I ordered the “churros con cioccolata” (my breakfast!) and we waited patiently, because they had not arrived from the bakery that morning. The door opened five minutes later and a man came in with a home-made fresh batch of churros. They were served to us warm with the the thickest hot chocolate I had ever tasted. If you have the real, original cioccolata, it is ten times thicker than hot chocolate in the United States. It tastes like melted chocolate with a little bit of milk mixed in and is deliciously filling. The hot chocolate went perfectly with the warm sugar coated churros. Our first encounter with churros was a tasty one.

IMG_6614Churros in Granada: The next place that we visited in Spain was Granada. I really enjoyed this southern city because you can feel and see the moorish influence even today. Granada was the last Islamic town on the Iberian Peninsula to be conquered by “Los Reyes Catolicos” during the reconquista. After defeating the last Muslim ruler, Emir Muhammad XII, the Catholic rulers Ferdinand II and Isabella II had complete control of Spain. Although Granada was conquered, a lot of the beautiful buildings were still left standing, including the huge moorish palace, the Alhambra. While wandering through Granada, Quentin and I stumbled upon one of the oldest plaza’s, Plaza de Bib-Rambla . While looking at the fountain in the middle of the square, we saw a sign for Churros at a café and decided to stop for a midday snack. At the bar, we ordered from a friendly waitress who delivered hot churros minutes later. These churros were much bigger and longer. They were delicious, but you could taste the oil in every bite.IMG_6489

Churros in Seville: After Granada, Quentin and I took the bus to Seville. The air B&B we stayed in was close to a square called Alameda with tons of cafes and restaurants where you could sit outside in the sun. In the middle of the square where kids were passing a soccer ball back and forth, there was a food stand that made fresh churros. We watched the lady pull a lever on a machine that squeezed dough into boiling oil. The oil fried the dough and she scooped the hot churros out and rolled them in sugar before handing them to use in paper funnels. Even though the churros were delicious, and it was fun to watch her make them, the hot chocolate that I dipped mine in was less thick. I think it used water instead of milk. Regardless, it was another successful churro stop.

IMG_6627 IMG_6630Churros in Madrid: My final taste of churros was at St. Gines Chocolatería in Madrid. Unfotrunately, Quentin had to head back to the United States after we visited Seville, so for the last leg of my trip, I was by myself. Traveling by yourself is a unique experience because you are forced to be outgoing and meet more people. When I was in Madrid, I went to St. Gines for Churros two times (it really is that good). The first time I went was with a guy I met at a museum who was finishing Law School in Madrid. The second time I went was my last day abroad and in town with a group of friends from Italy, France, Australia, Austria and Spain. I would go into detail about how amazing it is to meet people from all over, but the topic here is churros so instead I am going to focus on St. Gines. This particular Chocolatería is in the heart of Madrid and is open 24 hours a day. It is a popular tourist attraction, but you also find tons of locals inside too which means that the place truly is delicious. The churros are cut from long circular spirals and the hot chocolate is rich and thick. My last day in Madrid, we ordered churros and sat outside under heatlamps. I could not have asked for a better way to end my choco-trip—new friends, crowded place, and savoring the best dessert Spain has to offer. As I slowly licked the last drops of chocolate from my spoon that night, I knew it had been a successful journey.

IMG_6826

Churros and Chocolate may be one of Spain’s best features. It was fun (and tasty) to try the different kinds and explore the different way cities and cafe’s offered them.

And that’s an un-wrap!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holy Dessert: The Cathedral that is Never Finished, and the Dessert that Always is

One of the must-see sites when you travel to Barcelona is the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. The construction of this huge looming cathedral began in 1882 and is still not quite completed today. Most of the design and the plans for the cathedral were developed by the famous catalan architect Antoni Guadí. Quentin and I were encouraged to visit around two or three in the afternoon so that the light would be at it’s best through the stain glass windows, and we were definitely not misguided by this advise. The church itself is an overwhelming beauty from the outside with different facades that look like dripping wax and have great significance in the bible, but the inside was my favorite part.IMG_6341

There are tall pillars that shoot up and arch out into the ceiling as if they were trees. Entering the church felt like entering a huge secret forbidden clearing in a dense forest. Colored light reflected from the stained glass and filled the air. Each stained glass window had a different vibrant color and represented different parts of nature. I loved the way Gaudí designed the cathedral to mix spiritual aspects with nature. Quentin and I took a small crowded elevator to one of the church towers and looked out over Barcelona before climbing down tiny spiral stairs which spun round and round for what felt like forever. It was an amazing experience… out of all the church’s I have seen traveling through Europe I might venture to say this one was my favorite.IMG_0262_2

After exploring the church, my sweet tooth kicked in again. Quentin and I met up with Will who took us into old town where we found a cute little shop called Chöck. The boys said we had to go in because they like to call me by my nickname “Chuck” and thought it was a sign the shop name was so close to my nickname. The shop had so many sweets to choose from but we decided on an oreo cronut and a chocolate nut donut type-pastry. They were both so delicious that Will and I had to stop in the middle of the street to let the chocolate overwhelm our taste-buds. I think one thing I have learned while traveling is to slow down and take everything in—even if it is the flavor of a cronut, let it overwhelm your senses and completely envelope your thoughts even for just a second. I want to try and live more in the moment when I return home and appreciate the big things like amazing cathedrals and the little things, like a chocolate donut.

IMG_0216_2Holy Dessert. And that’s an un-wrap.

Brunch and Cake “Taking the Cake” in Barcelona

I think it is impossible not to laugh when you meet up with someone familiar in a strange new place. The comfort of being with a friend mixes with the adventure and excitement of being somewhere you have never been before resulting in a big smile, a giggle, and, as cheesy as it sounds, the realization of how incredible life is in that moment.

When I first got to Barcelona, I wandered down Las Ramblas, a touristy main street, past the big stone cathedral and into a neighborhood called El Born with narrow streets and lots of people. For once, I was able to find the Air B & B where we were staying without getting lost. It was a tall building with a gated door and I rang the bell and spoke in Spanish (!!) to the owner who buzzed me in. I pushed open the big metal gate-door and walked up four flights of musty stairs (because in Spain the first level is usually level zero) into an apartment where my new travel buddy, Quentin, was waiting for me. This is where the laugh/giggle/chuckle comes in. I was so nervous that I was going to get lost on the way to the apartment or that we wouldn’t find each other because cell phones don’t work without wi-fi, that when I saw him I couldn’t help but smile and laugh with relief and amazement that we finally made it to Barcelona, the number one place on my list of cities I wanted to visit.

I felt a surge of this same strange mixture of feelings when we met up with our friend Will, who is teaching English in Barcelona, for dinner. We were sitting outside at a Café eating and watching skateboarders stick and fail to stick their tricks, when a familiar smile made it’s way into my line of site. The small giggle/laugh inserted itself again here with the combination of the the old friend and the new place.

Luckily, Will shares my obsession for chocolate and sweets, and knows all of the good places to go in Barcelona. To start, the next day he took us on a tour of the city on bikes. We rode up to montjuïc and had a beautiful view of the city. Our bike tour ended at one of the best food places I have been to so far. Although, Quentin pointed out to me that I think every place we go is the best place we have been. I realized that everytime I eat while traveling I usually think it is the best meal I have ever eaten… each new treat is the best one. However, this new best meal was at a place called “Brunch and Cake”. I had a sweet waffle covered in cheese and bacon with lettuce on top. It was something I would never think to make on my own and was the ideal combination of sweet, savory flavors with crunchy, thick textures. After devouring the waffle, Will and I split a huge slice of Oreo Cake. While cake is usually the last thing on my dessert list, behind ice cream, cookies and regular chocolate bars, this cake definitely “took the cake” for the day and satisfied my sweet tooth after our bike ride with the dense sweet flavor of what seemed like a million oreos crushed into one bite.

IMG_6302 IMG_6504

Old faces, new places. Brunch and Cake took the cake. And that’s an un-wrap.