Gràcia Barrio is the neighbourhood of Gràcia, just above Barcelona’s famous Passeig de Gràcia, which is where Brunyfire finds herself during the month of August (2015). Despite the 105 steps up to the fourth floor, the apartment, on loan from a friend of a friend, is ideally situated, particularly during the last days of the August festival where the view from both the 4th floor……..………and at street level, was pretty hot.Gràcia was an independent town until the late 19th century and even now the community is small and tight. The people of Gràcia are exceedingly proud of their roots, fiercely Catalan, but accommodating – an interesting mix of ethnicity, old agers and the down and outs. The whole area is pretty friendly, and with the Spanish tradition of mid-day siestas and late night dining for all ages, it makes a safe place even for lone travellers. The narrow streets and numerous Plaças make for some interesting shops and eateries, starting with a local cafe that serves a decent coffee and a great baguette with jamon y queso…………..and is situated right next to the market. Great for people watching as they go about their shopping………
……..at the butchers…………….the salt cod stand…..…..and buying up caracoles by the kilo.But by far Brunyfire’s favourite bar/cafe is Pepa Tomate, in the Plaça Revolució De Setembre De 1868.
An unassuming little place that is named after the woman who had a passion for tomatoes – growing them and making jams, chutneys and sauces with them – hence her nickname Pepa Tomate. Pepa Farré was born in the 1920s and grew up in Grácia where she learnt to cook and garden with her mother.The restaurant opened its doors in 2012, and the menu is based on fresh, informal tapas sized serves made from ingredients directly from the nearby Mercat de L’Abaceria Central. The tastes of traditional Catalan cuisine are recreated with originality that comes from the resident young chef, Pau Corderas.
On this occasion, the first course was a vichyssoise d’ortigues àjo blanco i escopinyes – a delicious nettle, white garlic, almond and cockle vichyssoise (basically a cold creamy soup)…………..a beautiful cool, smooth and refreshing palete cleanser, before the second course. The next course of spinach fritters with honey allioli (or Buñuelos de espinacas con allioli de miel)…….………was fairly dense, but the honey allioli retrieved it from being too dry. Then finally finishing off with crudité de carbassó, tomàquet sec, parmesà i tòfana or crudités of zucchini, sundried tomato, Parmesan cheese and truffle oil.