This post is a continuation from day one in Barcelona.
It used to be that when I had travel plans I'd scrutinise all aspects of the destination prior to departure, to the point that I didn't allow myself to veer off that researched path upon arrival (and I was really annoying because it made me really controlling). Then my life came apart at the seams and I realised it's too short to bother with being such a pain in my own arse. Case in point, perhaps to an extreme, I knew virtually nothing about Barcelona aside from 1) it's a city in Spain that's hosted the Olympics before and 2) it gave birth to an artist who made buildings look like the architectural equivalent of those kodama ghosts in the trees in Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke. If you don't know what I'm talking about, look at pictures of some Gaudí properties.
I am not an athlete
Parc de Montjuïc, a hilly mecca of green things and stunning views, is part of the Sants neighbourhood of Barcelona, and it's where we decided to spend the first hours of day two in BCN. The language to describe how I feel in the morning doesn't exist, but in simple terms I am broken (and remain so for at least two hours of time by myself to contend with the fact that I am no longer in bed). My description of the park's undulations comes only with hindsight – I had no idea I would be climbing mountains before 10am.
Thankfully (for fun's sake) there was a slide at the top, which we both did sliding on while watching all of the other adults jealously roll their eyes at us. No children were out yet because they're apparently not stupid enough to go to a park at the crack of dawn. The dumb cable cars weren't running, so after that I had to walk up hills some more until we got to the top. At the summit sat Montjuïc Castle, an old military fortress now serving as a place for exhausted individuals to recover from actually getting there.
Thank goodness I had the sense to get some Lujuria Vegana cakes before our ascension, because otherwise I'm not sure I'd have survived the morning. Both were excellent, and the presentation was so mind-blowingly gorgeous that I think the cakes would have tasted like heaven even if they were made from cat hair (maybe this is me trying to justify stuff that comes out of my own kitchen). I didn't get to try Paul's carrot cake because by the time I finished photographing it fifteen minutes later he scoffed it in 0.6 seconds. The tiramisu is highly recommended for anyone who prefers this Italian favourite to err more on the side of amaretto than espresso. Also for people who want to dye all of their clothes brown with chocolate.
Lunch at Santoni Cafe
I was ready for many lunches by the time we descended back to the city 279,000 metres below, so we found our way to the tiny but more than adequate Santoni Cafe on Ronda Sant Antoni. We crammed ourselves into the corner to admire the cafe's vegan menu while letting the day's first and only coffee drip down our throats (and my face, since I am incapable of avoiding the apparent hole in my lip). One nice thing about Barcelona is that everyone seems to be able to make coffee that doesn't taste like dishwater. Dear Britain, please take note.
Anyway, so we ordered some tofu croquettes and a macaroni dish with coconut cream and rocket pesto. The croquettes were passable – little cumin-y parcels with vegan mayo and balsamic glaze alongside a small green salad – but the pasta stole the show. Never would I think to combine coconut with arugula pesto, but it worked so well that I considered ordering a second portion. I've become dubious of the let's do everything with coconut obsession because it's really not a good replacement for dairy milk since it, you know, tastes like coconut. I mean should we start making ice cream out of chickpeas or potatoes because they're the right colour (shut up, I know it's an awful analogy)? Yeah, so I had to eat my words.
Sleeping and beer-ing
THEN WE DID NAP TIME, followed by bar time at a cat themed bar called Cat Bar. A vegan cat themed bar! Cake, pasta, beer, and cats! All in one day! What, am I dreaming? Cats and craft brews for the win (speaking of beer, and yes this is a plug, we've set the date for the next London Vegan Beer Fest and it's July 12th 2014).
Yeah, so Cat Bar does typical pub grub like burgers and chips. Everything looked ace, but we had dinner plans and hence focused on the beer. Priorities.
Dinner at Sésamo restaurante
Buzzed and hungry, we floated to the restaurant to which I was most looking forward: Sésamo. The business has changed a few times over the years, from a supposedly fabulous favourite veggie haunt to an omni place and back again to vegetarian (which it is now, fully). I pretty much forced my S.O. into the 25 Euro tasting menu, and it was a good choice. For that price we enjoyed two glasses of gluggable Montsant region red (each) and eight tapas dishes. Each dish to hit the table came with an explanation from either the server or chef, an attentiveness indicative of the entire dining experience.
So here's a rundown of what we ate:
Olives: some of the best I've had. Seriously, why do people salt their olives to such a degree that the lining of your gums fall off after eating one? Sésamo, or whoever does their olives, manages to salt them perfectly.
Creamy miso: very milky-tasting and earthy soup with a pepper and nutty flavour.
Coconut sweet potato macadamia soup: Tasted of toasted coconut and the macadamia flavour was hugely present. Outstanding.
New potatoes with spinach sauce and cauliflower/garlic/chilli sauce: The cauli sauce was superb, and strongly laced with raw garlic. The spinach was like a tangy pesto and was a good complement to the cauliflower.
Padrón Peppers with oil, chilli, lime, and salt: It's hard to mess this one up. Loved it.
Lentil soup with paprika, smoke, olive oil, and mushroom: Rich and meaty, with an almost fishy taste (Paul compared it to smoked haddock). This is the dish that matched the wine best (I don't actually remember, but I wrote that in my notes).
Spinach and cauliflower curry with rice: The least impressive of the lineup, this spicy and creamy dish had a good texture and it was nice to consume chilli.
Chocolate fondue with fresh fruit: It's fruit and chocolate, okay?
I think I was probably pretty sloshed, because this is how my notes abruptly ended: