Barcelona is a city of chocolate, I have been living in Barcelona almost all my life but I never thought of Barcelona as a chocolate city or special because its bakeries and chocolateries. But this concept changed today in the city tour I took with Context Travel.
Let's start with a bit of chocolate knowledge. Chocolate is a delicate ingredient from the New World that was brought to Spain on the first time after the discovering of America when Christopher Columbus came back from America and was received by Ferran and Isabel de Aragon in Plaça del Reiin Barcelona, or so it says the legend.
That was the first time chocolate entered in the city although at first Columbus was not fully aware of the value of the product. After the discovering of America, chocolate was brought back to Spain in the XVI century by Hernan Cortés who tried a hot chocolate drink and new about its features.A t first chocolate was a product only available for the upper class. Chocolate always has an effect on people, different for each individual, could be a pleasure, intrigue, passion, tasting chocolate is like tasting wine you need all your senses to experience it. You need to smell it, break it into pieces and listen to the sound, touch it and melt it in your mouth slowly to feel all the flavours.
The Spaniards brought cacao to Spain, but kept the discovery a secret for almost a century. Europe did not know anything about the amazing new product and drink. France was supposed to be the first one to know due to alliances and marriages within the upper class and Italy was the second country that knew about it.
It was not until 19th century when the chocolate drink helped by the industrial revolution that transformed liquid chocolate into solid chocolate bars and mass production started and spread around. That was the time when chocolate started being a product affordable for masses.
Our tour through Barcelona, a city of chocolate
Our first stop was at Fargas, a little chocolaterie in Carrer del pi in Barcelona. Is the third oldest shop in Barcelona, the business started back in 1827, there used to be a mule grinding the chocolate, they still grind the chocolate in the shop and use the original milk they use in old times. Fargas used to serve chocolate to the houses of the bourgeoisie in the city. We tasted some catànies and cava bombons.
The second stop has been Escribà in las ramblas, an old modernist building and shop that is now managed by the brothers Escribà, it is a mix of old and new flavours. Escribà is very famous for being in charge of very astonishing cakes for famous people such as Ferran Arià, Prince of Spain etc...
We tasted some vanilla and chocolate lips and bombons made with passion fruit and unfortunately we missed mint leaves with a thin layer of chocolate on the top that are very famous, so we will need to pop in some other time to taste them!
Our third stop was in Granja Viaser, a granja is a kind of a cafeteria, very typical in Catalonia, places where you normally can have breakfast and "merienda" a meal in the afternoon sort of the afternoon tea in England. We had a "chocolate a la taza", a hot chocolate and a chocolate milkshake very typical in Catalonia called Cacaolat, I love it is my favourite. Granja Viader started in 1870
The first chocolate milkshake Cacaolat was born in here, in Viader's family that created Letona and own it until 1970. In 1925 the Cacaolat started in their factory in Poblenou, Barcelona.
Our fourth stop was in Cacao Sampaka I really enjoyed the manager's explanation of all cocoa process until getting the chocolate, Miguel also took us into a deep tour on varieties and tasting chocolate flavours. You can find white chocolate with roses and strawberries, chocolate with Ibiza sea salt, any kind of flavour you can imagine is there.
We also had a taste of 4 bombons, and I choose the most weird flavours for me, so that was my choice: parmesan cheese, olive oil, peanut butter and a spicy bombon. I was surprised by the flavour of those, the one I liked the most was the parmesan cheese bombon, amazing taste, totally recommended!
Our last thing to see was the Block of Discord in Eixample, Passeig de Gràcia to mention that Casa Amatller by the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch, has a direct relation with chocolate. When the architect was designing the building wanted to display the hobbies and work of the owner, so you can see in the same building decorations related to chocolate, a chocolate bar. Mr Amatller was a well-known chocolatier, the brand still remains nowadays.
And so here was the end of our tour but pay attention as another post in in the oven about Catalan pastries and typical chocolate meals in Catalonia!
Disclaimer: A walking tour offered by Context Spain through TBEX Conference. All post is written by me with my personal opinion, you can't buy love and thank God for that!