SANT JORDI

Cataluña is very different to the rest of Spain and Europe; they have their own language, different traditions and their own bank holidays. Every day I’m discovering more about this rebellious region which doesn’t feel “part of Spain” and wants its independence.

As much as this blog is dedicated to restaurants, bars and cafés in Barcelona I would like to talk about a certain event that I thought was very interesting and fun: Sant Jordi.

Let’s go back to February 13th.

I was getting all excited about Valentine’s day, as any girl does, and told the everyone at work that we should all come dressed in red the next day and stick hearts on the office’s walls (yes I tend to go all “out” for these type of events). I was told that Valentine’s day wasn’t a big thing here in Catalonia, that Sant Jordi was their Valentine’s day. Hmmm…

Fast-forward to April 22nd.

On our lunch break, Laura was talking about a book she needed to buy for her boyfriend and what she was going to wear and do for Sant Jordi. (Light-bulb moment: something about Sant Jordi being Catalonia’s Valentine’s Day).

THE LEGEND

Sant Jordi is celebrated on April 23rd. Legend says there once was a dragon that killed everyone in a little town. In order to satisfy the dragon’s hunger, the people would sacrifice sheep and cows. But when they no longer had any they decided to use humans. One day the King’s daughter was chosen. He begged the people to spare the princess’s life and said he’d give them all his gold and kingdom. The people rejected his offer and allowed him 8 days to say goodbye to his daughter. On the 8th day, the princess was brought to the dragon’s cave. As the dragon was about to devour the girl a knight on a white horse arrived and threw his sword straight to the beast’s heart. From the animal’s blood blossomed several roses. Jordi, the knight, took the most beautiful one and offered it to the princess.

The King, full of joy and gratitude asked him to wed his daughter. He refused and left the kingdom.

The tradition, hence, is that every man offers a rose to his girlfriend/wife, mother or/and close girl friend on the day of Sant Jordi: April 23rd.

A rose for her...

A rose for her…

R.I.P SHAKESPEARE & MIGUEL DE CERVANTES

Sounds like Valentine’s day right? Think again!

On Valentine’s day, the women are the spoiled ones: men give us a rose and we don’t do anything in return (traditionally). However, over here, the men also receive a little gift from the girls: a book. Indeed, April 23rd is also the day of Shakespeare’s and, famous Spanish author, Miguel de Cervantes’s death. To honor them women offer books to their boyfriend/husband, father and/or close guy friends.

A book for him,,,

A book for him,,,

THE STREETS

In addition, the reason why everyone knows it’s Valentine’s day is mainly due to the publicity in the streets and the shops decorated with hearts everywhere. However, over here, as much as you see the “Sant Jordi Menu” signs outside of almost every restaurant and café, that is nothing compared to what you experience in the streets. During the day you will see practically EVERY girl with one or several roses! It’s insane! In fact, 40% of Catalonia’s Rose sale happens on this very day and 10% for the books!

Now let’s go back to April 22nd at 8pm

I walked out of the Sephora located on the top of Rambla Catalunya when I noticed there were people setting up little stands. Hmm.. already setting up the stands for the next day? Ok this must be quite a big thing. Laura had told me people sell roses and books on the streets. Again that is a difference compared to Valentine’s day: you do not buy the gift for your partner on your own in advance: you walk down the streets together and look for the prettiest rose for her and the perfect book for him.

April 23rd

I had barely stepped outside of my building when I saw the streets covered in red from all the rose stands! Walking around, I was just about forgetting where I was, until, in true Catalonian tradition,  I stumbled across several stands of the Catalunian-Independence party reminding the people that they wanted Independence.. yup, just in case you’d forgotten…

Rambla Catalunya

Rambla Catalunya

So if you’re ever in Barcelona around April 23rd, don’t forget to buy your loved ones roses or books! La Rambla Catalunya (not to be confused with las Ramblas!!) is the main street where everyone goes!

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THANK YOU

I began this blog just about 4 months since ive created this blog and i would just like to thank all those who have visited my blog!

I started off with just about 2 visits/day and as much as i’m still not getting 100 visits/day, the number has imcreased and i’m really happy you are interested in my blog!

THANK YOU, GRACIAS, MERCI!

I LOVE AFTER WORK: Free Tapas & Happy Hour

Take off that work outfit, kick off those shoes, put on your chic yet casual clothes cause, whether you live here or are just travelling to the city, you do not want to miss out Barcelona’s only  International After-Work on Thursday nights at Los Altos (Otto Zuts Club).

DÉCOR

Los Altos is a private V.I.P room in the famous Otto Zuts club in Grácia. It has recently been renovated so is quite a sight: mirrors everywhere, fancy sofas and tables, a nice bar and some pretty nice neon lights!

Los Altos

Los Altos

THE EVENT

I Love After Work (ILAW) is an official event since March 22nd. Created to give a place for Internationals to meet after work, this event offers FREE homemade food such as tapas, sushi, kebabs and deserts along with some happy hour deals: 4€ for a big glass of wine, cava, soft drink or beer. If you’re a big group, the bottles of wine are reasonable too: 22€/bottle!

On top of that, the entrance is FREE and you have access to the Otto Zutts club after for free.

Free Tapas

Free Tapas

Happy Hour

Happy Hour

“TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE!”

That’s what many people tell me when I tell them about my nights here YET I swear it’s true. And even if they do believe me, they say “I bet it’s one piece of yucky tortilla per person and a chocolate…” Now I am a food-lover, have a big appetite and I can promise you that I really like the food and there is enough for everyone to feast!

In addition, the food isn’t all fried and fatty things. You can enjoy some nice croquetas, fresh sushi, chicken kebabs with a teriyaki sauce, a “surtido de tapas” (mix of tapas), some salad, Swedish meatballs, chocolate fondants etc…

No worries the menu varies every week so you’ll never be bored!

SUSHI

SUSHI

Tapas & more

Tapas & more

HOW CAN THIS ALL BE FREE?

I spoke with Alexander Andersson, young entrepreneur and creator of ILAW, who told me that the reason why he created ILAW wasn’t to make any profit but genuinely to be able to hang out with his international friends in a place where there weren’t “kids” (I.e <20 year-olds) and share this opportunity with others.

Want more pictures, information or contact them: here’s the facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/ILoveAfterwork?fref=ts

Don’t hesitate to go on the page every now and then for there are always great offers.

Last week it was Thirsty Thursday: Bottle of Cava ON THE HOUSE for groups of 5 or more.

The weeks before you could win a Bottle of Cava!

KE MAGDALENA: BEST MADGALENAS

KE MAGDALENA

In my previous article about café Rendez-Vous, in addition to saying how modern and relax it was, I talked about their cupcakes: the best ones I have yet tasted. Returning for the zillionth time there on Sunday, I discovered that Ke Magdalena is the catering brand which makes these little drops of heaven.

Since April 8th, they now welcome us to their newly renovated (and still in the process of decorating) Atelier/Kitchen to enjoy their special cupcakes!

THE MAGDALENAS*

For those who haven’t read the Rendez-Vous article, these cupcakes are HEALTHY GUILT-FREE TREATS! They don’t have butter or cholesterol and are made with natural products. The best part? They’re only about 80kcal/cupcake! (that includes a creamy frosting!)

Magdalenas

Magdalenas

THE ATELIER/CAFÉ

Despite it not being finished yet, you still feel like you’ve walked on to an ELLE – Cusine photo shoot! No wonder, the two owners are designers. The walls are covered with pink words and a big wooden table rests at the far end of the room where, when I arrived, the two owners: Aliette and German, were working on a catering order and magdalenas invaded the table.

Care for a swing?

Care for a swing?

As you walk towards the table, a little swing with cute pillows welcomes you, a table with the surface of a chalk board already full of cute comments from previous customers and a table filled with different cupcakes and muffins sits next to their fridge with yummy fruit juices!

Chalk board table

Chalk board table

Ke Magdalena

Ke Magdalena

The atmosphere changed from high-fashion-ELLE – Cuisine photo shoot to a homey one the minute Aliette began to speak with me, explaining how they came to create Ke Magdalenas and offering me a cupcake, cup of tea and a seat.

Two elderly women came in and Aliette treated them like family! Then a mother (the woman who had ordered the catering service) joined us with her son. Whilst they were waiting for the final touches for the catering order, the boy was offered a little cupcake that he could decorate himself… I really felt like I had walked into someone’s kitchen as opposed to a café.

I will definitely return when I get the chance!

Thank you Aliette & German for sharing with me a bit of Ke Magdalena love!

*The Spanish use the term magdalena for cupcake and muffin.

NATURO: BARCELONA’S SALAD BAR

Salads are the ideal lunch meals for the summer and if you want to be healthy. But it is quite annoying having to go out and buy all those ingredients to make the perfect and original salad, especially if you’re on your own.. Plus, how ridiculous do you look when you buy just one lonely tomato, only use half the pack of salad, half a cucumber…

No worries because Barcelona now has its first salad bar!

Located on Travesera de Gracia just above diagonal, NATURO is a cute little shop. You can take out, eat-in or even have them deliver to your office or house for you extremely lazy people.

STEP ONE: ORDERING

Step one: ORDERING

Step one: ORDERING

 

They offer three salad sizes and menus ranging from 3€50 to 5€ depending on if you want a salad and/or a sandwich and/or a drink. You can enjoy a simple salad with onions and lettuce or go a little crazy and add their tomato salsa, fried onions, broccoli and spicy peppers.

If you don’t want a salad you can also enjoy a homemade bikini (Panini), their two cremas del dia (soup of the day) and during the summer their gazpascho!

F.Y.I

– The waiter is really sweet: take your time in deciding what you want! He’ll even advise you on what to add to best accompany your toppings.

– Enjoy their free chocolates! Nom nom…

STEP TWO: DRESSING

Salsa Bar

Salsa Bar

You’re not quite finished yet. Once you’ve made your personal salad/bikini, head over to the salsa bar where you can create your own dressing. You have a wide variety of sauces: balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, different olive oils, Tabasco, salt, pepper, honey, mustard etc..

STEP THREE: ENJOY!

Just like at home

Just like at home

Now just sit down and enjoy this tiny shop’s homey atmosphere. With my friend, we ate our salads on a big wooden table where Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Hello! magazines were spread out.  (Thaaaank you NATURO) We felt right at home it was lovely!

I LOVE this place. I feel right at home, the waiter is really sweet and friendly and what better way to enjoy a salad than with a friend, chocolates and magazines!

For more information: visit their facebook page