Is it mid-January already?! This is quite late indeed! Ah well, let’s rewind to a fortnight ago. It was New Year’s Eve and after all the Christmas feasting already, I was a little nervous about what we were going to eat that night. We were all again staying home for New Year’s and yet again, Blai’s mother was planning a most impressive meal. The table was set and we sat down at 10pm, ready for the wide variety of bits and pieces that would make up our first course.
Those little dishes didn’t all fit on the table! There was a little trolley (which folds down flat – it’s amazing) alongside with even more food. There were pastries and pate and duck ham and more pastries and those gorgeous fried artichokes of hers. We were all already full after this course!
For the second course, my mother-in-law opted for something simple – but what delicious simplicity this was! We feasted on fillet steak with fried apples and pine nuts. All absolutely gorgeous and I recreated this with pork fillet when I came back to London. So so good.
Dessert time! That afternoon, Blai and I had gone to visit Oriol Balaguer’s shop in Sarrià-Sant Gervasi. He’s one of the top chocolatiers in Spain and his chocolates truly are excellent. This time, I was there for a couple of confections that Kathy from A Passion for Food had mentioned. One was his marshmallows; the shop girls wouldn’t sell me a box of his colourful fruity marshmallows (they’re sold as part of a bigger selection box) but I bought these chocolate marshmallows instead that were wonderfully fluffy and not too sweet and a perfect addition to the dessert selection.
The other sweet I wanted that night was his Mascletà (literal translation: very strong fireworks! Perfect for New Year’s Eve) and I bought a boxful of them. These beautiful chocolates had centres flavoured with either vanilla, hazelnut praline or mandarin and all were chock full of popping candy. The best way to eat these were to just take a bite and let it melt in your mouth slowly. Pop pop pop they go!
And when it was close to midnight, grapes were brought out for the traditional grape scoffing (twelve grapes – one for each toll of the clock bell. Eat them all and there’s good luck for you in the new year) and we got to work preparing them. Blai and I both peeled ours (yeah, we were cheating). Here were my grapes…
… and here were Blai’s. Does their arrangement on the plate say something about us?!
And yet again, we failed after bursting out with laughter halfway through. Ah well.
The next day, of course, was New Year’s Day and we were heading again to the village to see Blai’s extended family. And this meant another big meal! I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going to fit it all but somehow I managed (the stomach is an amazing thing!).
Blai’s aunt had outdone herself again. We had a first course of various things: xató, salt cod, botifarra blanca and white bean truita (Catalan for a tortilla). Can I admit that I look forward to that xató every year? I should learn how to make it here.
For the second course, Blai’s aunt wheeled out a most impressive cassola of estofat de senglar (wild boar stew). The boar had been hunted by her son and husband; there are quite a few of them in the surrounding forests – I haven’t come across one myself but Blai has. Anyway, the stew was gorgeous with its meltingly tender chunks of boar, potatoes, prunes and wild mushrooms (we think they were lleneges). Despite a few of us going up for seconds, we made only a modest dent in this massive delicious stew.
For dessert, again with the traditional torrons and neules. I also brought along another treat I’d picked up at Oriol Balaguer – a little boxful of his Bola-Bola, caramelised coffee beans covered in dark chocolate. Again, they were delicious. Yup, I’m a fan.
What fabulous feasting again in Barcelona – thank you so much to Blai’s family who are my family now too!
If you are planning to go to Oriol Balaguer’s shop, you might want to take a look online at what products are available. Not everything was on display and the shop girls weren’t very forthcoming about what they had in the back. I had to ask for the large box of Mascletas (12 in the box).
Placa St Gregori Taumaturg, 2
Well, that’s the end to this series of Barcelona posts for this trip. All my photos from that beautiful city can be found in this Flickr photoset – it’s a little larger than usual due to my visiting all the touristy sites with my brother. I particularly enjoyed our visit to Mies van der Rohe’s pavilion.