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100 days of happiness

22 Jan

I started the #100happydays challenge to take a photograph of something that makes me happy, every day for a hundred days.

Not sure who is behind the website and what their motives are. Although the site talks about the challenge like it happened before and gives some inspiring but completely made up facts about what happens to those to successfully complete the challenge, there is very little evidence that it existed before January 2014.

Regardless, I like the idea. It’s a nice antidote to the dire lack of sunlight and music festivals in January. And it gives me an excuse to post uplifting phrases next to uplifting photographs. There may even be more terrible uplifting poetry involved.

Yup, this was definitely a good idea.

Day 1: A tea and wine and carrot cake afternoon

What’s not to love? There were some friends involved as well.

Cosmo Cafe Barcelona

A winey Sunday afternoon at Cosmo Cafe, Barcelona. (My challenge had a false start on Friday and then started on Sunday for real….until I forget again.)


Happy Cafe or Bar Celona: best Catalan home cooking in Barcelona

17 Nov

Called Happy Cafe simply because we first nicknamed another bar on the street the Sad Cafe after the unsmiling staff, the Happy Cafe always satisfies!

It’s called Bar Celona by the cheerful family which runs it. Walk in and shout hello to the three brothers who work the bar – a pair of ginger twins and a lovely older brother. You may also spot the hot blond aunty (T claims she is the aunty, I just don’t know) and the mother who runs the kitchen.

The eating space will open at around 1:30 pm. Take a seat, smile at your old Catalan neighbours, return the greetings and join in the jokes. Giggle with the old man on the table next to you who is throwing bread pellets at the old man behind you until he’s rewarded by an exasperated shout of ‘Jodere!’

For a menu price of 8.90 Euros, you get (for example)-
1. Half a bottle of cheap wine with a bottle of fizzy water
2. A basekt of bread
3. For a starter Cuban style rice served with a tomato sauce and fried egg (T had the bean stew)
4. The most heavenly Catalan beef stew in the world (Recipe)
5. For pudding, Crema Catalana (crème brulée)

On other days I have had Canneloni esk starters, raw fish marinated in lemon juice served with fresh vegetables, chunks of fish baked and served with a herb and tomato sauce and an array of meat and potato combinations. Each dish cooked and flavoured to perfection and served in belly filling proportions.

Fortified by my own bellyfull and half a bottle of cheap wine, I tried to get the familly dynamics straight in my head again. ‘So the oldest man isn’t the father, he’s the older brother?’

T: Yeah he’s the older brother and the old lady in the kitchen is their mother, not grandmother
Me: And the younger blond lady?
T: She’s an aunty…
Me: She’s not married to any of them?
T: No
Me: Didn’t we see one of the younger guys with his hand on her bum once?
T: ….yeah

(….deep thinking silence…)

Me: Maybe its a cultural thing. Y´kno how in some countries its ok for men to hold hands maybe in Spain…

T: …Its ok to feel your aunty’s bum?!

Err….come solve the mystery

Bar Celona
Time: Bar open early. Lunch served from 1:30 to 3:30
Price: 8.90 Euros on weekdays
Address: 32 Calle Poeta Cabanyes, just off Parallel

My new local: Bar Absenta in Barceloneta

9 Nov

I found it! Less than two weeks in my new barrio Barceloneta, I have found the perfect local bar.

It satisfies almost all my criteria-

1. Close to home. About 3 minutes walk around the corner.
2. Free WiFi available
3. Chilled out bartender who doesn’t care how long you nurse a drink
4. Artsy and intellectual looking clients
5. Chock full of endlessly diverting bric-a-brac
6. Life-sized absinthe fairy suspended from the cieling

The (possible) downers-
1. It turned out to not be the 1 Euro beer bar we were actually looking for
2. The artsy and intellectual looking clients
3. The bartender’s refusal to let us take the fairy home

Och weeeel….

Dosa and Idli in Barcelona

5 Nov

Its been more than a year since I last ate a dosa. Since I last sank my teeth into crunchy ghee soaked goodness dipped in cold tangy coconut chutney. Oh way too long.

Dosas can be found in Barcelona, at a price. The place to go is a great little restaurant called Veg World India in Gracia. The menu offers a variety of vegetarian food from various parts of India and the restaurant boasts a 90% vegan menu. A rock solid testament to the food is the fact that I dragged a hungry carnivorous Scotsman to a 90% vegan restaurant which doesn’t serve alcohol, and he enjoyed his meal!

We shared a starter of Papri Chaat- nice enough, but didn’t quiet hit that particular chaat taste. Chaat is an India snack made up of layers of fresh diced coriander, diced onions, a spicy coriander sauce, a sweet brown sauce and a yogurt sauce over boiled potatoes or chickpeas or other ingredients depending on the type of chaat. All this is layered over a bed of fried pastry diskettes (similar to the skin of a samosa). The best chaat or chaat makers come from Lucknow in India. One of the few good things to come out of India’s Buffalo Belt.*

Reasonable chaat aside, they do a super cool masala dosa! Masala dosa is an Indian style crepe made from fermented rice batter with a filling of curried potatoes. The dosa was served with a bowl of dark spicy sambhar and a little spoonful of perfect coconut chutney. Heaven. The dish is a traditional breakfast in South India and takes the best part of a day to prepare, ferment and cook. A whole day to prepare a breakfast!!

My inability to put so much effort into preparing a meal myself tempers my judgement on the price. But 10 Euros for a masala dosa and 12 Euros for a paneer dosa did pinch. I didn’t order it but a plate of idlis was around 7 Euros. Ouch! Fantastic restaurant, but more of an occasional treat methinks.

Damn you dosas and idlis! Why are you such hard work?

Address: 26 Carrer de Bruniquer, Gracia, Barcelona

Telephone: 932 107 056

Price: Roughly 10-15 Euros per person

Time: Open from Tuesday to Sunday. 12-4 for lunch and 8-12 for dinner

My lunch!

* The belt and the buffaloes explained: Yes, Americans have a Bible Belt, and we have a Buffalo Belt. The Buffalo Belt of India (Primarily the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and periphery areas) used to be the playgrounds of those uber cultured and hedonistic Mughal emperors. A place where art, literature and academia flourished. In more recent years though, the Buffalo Belt accounts for the highest incidence of women killed by their husbands and in-laws for not providing a large enough dowry at marriage (2008 stats put the total number of reported dowry deaths at 1210 for Bihar and 2237 for Uttar Pradesh). Delightful fellas!