Barcelona Take-Homes: Traditional Nougat to Contemporary Chocolate
In a gastronomic centre such as the Catalan capital, it makes sense that the best Barcelona take-homes should be edible souvenirs. From traditional nougat to contemporary, take your delicious pick.
I have a confession. I don’t have a sweet tooth. I will always order a cheese plate over dessert if I have a choice. I don’t ‘get’ the obsession with cupcakes, and I rarely eat chocolate. Unless, of course, sweets are the specialty of a chef we’re meeting, a restaurant we’re reviewing, or, in this case, a destination we’re visiting. Then I’m more than happy to give them a try.
And that’s exactly what I did today as I mapped out a very sweet walking tour for you around Barcelona’s atmospheric neighbourhood of El Born — all in the name of ‘research’ of course.
Barcelona has a rich history of producing traditional nougat, chocolate, biscuits, and pastries, all of which I think make scrumptious souvenirs.
But while the Catalan capital is famous for its long tradition of sweet-making — Barcelona produced the world’s first machine-made chocolate in 1780 — the city’s contemporary pastry-makers are creating some of the most inventive edible souvenirs I’ve encountered, using surprising ingredients and playful flavour combinations.
I’ve selected a combination of both traditional and modern sweets for you to take home. Enjoy — because I know we will!
Barcelona Take-Homes: From Traditional Nougat to Contemporary Chocolate
This elegant old shop in El Born dates to 1922 — and its décor is pretty much the way it was when it opened. La Campana has produced traditional nougat or turrón since as far back as 1890, and uses the same techniques that they always have.
While traditional nougat was historically eaten only at Christmas, now the store sells the scrumptious stuff all year-round, packaging it up beautifully for you.
There are two types, the soft nougat known as Xixona or the hard nougat called Alicant. I highly recommend opting for a gift box of six different types.
Princesa 36, El Born
E & A GISPERT
COFFEE, NUTS & SPICES
A short stroll away, this busy store with its charming shop-front dating to 1851, is an absolute delight to visit. While the specialty is coffee — follow your nose and head straight to the back where it’s freshly ground — you can also create your own spice mixes, nut selections, and tea blends.
Or you can simply choose from the array of delectable goodies cramming the shelves, from traditional treats such as El Gorrión Pimentón (see the pic above) to Enric Rovira’s exquisite chocolates. I chose the Bombolas de pimineta rosa, tiny balls of cocoa-dusted, chocolate covered red peppers.
Gispert also sells their own branded products, including spice mixes, salts and peppers, seasonal truffles, chocolates, and petite packets of pastels, which make great gifts.
Sombrerers 23, El Born
CREATIVE COOKIES & CRACKERS
Just down the street from La Campana, this elegant, contemporary store specialises in scrummy sweet cookies and savoury crackers, presented in rather elegant peppermint packaging.
While the cookies are made from fairly traditional techniques, it’s the quality and creative flavour combinations that make these truly stand out. I went for the sablé de sobrasada (square shortbread-like biscuits made from spicy Mallorcan sausages), yoghurt cookies, and milk chocolate cookies with basil and coffee.
You can buy the pre-packaged products or select your own which they’ll package beautifully for you.
Princesa, El Born
PASTRIES, BISCUITS & CHOCOLATES
Established by Carlos Mampel, one of Spain’s most celebrated pastry chefs, this tiny, elegant little store sells some of the most sublime pastries, cakes and desserts I’ve ever seen, as well as their own biscuits and chocolates.
I bought some chocolate and flor de sal cookies, which tasted both sweet and savoury, and some ‘curry coco’ truffles that overwhelmingly tasted of coconut on first bite but left a faint curry after-taste.
The place is miniscule but you can eat the pastries in or take-away, and they also have an espresso maker. The cookies and truffles come in stylish sealed tins that should get by all but Australian customs.
Caputxes 10, El Born
CHOCOLATE & MORE CHOCOLATE
Barcelona brothers Guillem and Marc Escursell are known as the chocolate-makers who changed chocolate-making forever. They may be from a long line of chocolatiers, however, their very contemporary chocolate bars and truffles are fabulously far removed from traditional chocolates.
The texture is smooth but with substance, while the flavours are simply wild. I went for the Wasabi, Chilli, Rose Petals, and Ginger chocolate bars. I also bought a Choco Postcard from Barcelona, subtitled “orange candy pop city chocolate”.
Whatever that means, the cute design (pictured above) with a flamenco dancer in a bullring with the Sagrada Familia in the background makes it an ideal souvenir.
Petritxol 11, El Born
If you must eat candy, then look no further. Think back to those you remember from your childhood and multiply the flavour by 10. Happy Pills is a clinical, all-white store with a vibrant wall of clear drawers of lollies and plastic gloves, jars and pillboxes, so you can pre-mix your own selections.
I love the pre-sorted pillboxes — from tiny boxes to accompany four meals a day (cute idea) to a monthly selection of colourful sweets (very funny — the ultimate gift for your hypochondriac friend). There are also gift packs of jars of multicoloured lollies with prescriptions on the outside.
I sampled the ‘Happiness’ pills, which boasted a label that said: “Tears from a day at the races and a night at the opera; tears from laughing at a joke; a drop in interest rates; a trip to the moon; a journey to the centre of the earth; the colours of dawn, no less; a walk on the wild side; the colours of a Tintin comic book; Applause!; a waltz by Strauss (junior); two balloons; going up to Macchu Picchu; and three balloons.” How sweet is that?
Carrer de l’Argenteria 70, El Born