Beautiful Barcelona, it’s one of our favourite cities in the world. Everyone knows that the tapas is to die for, BUT, did you know it’s also a centre of excellence for chocolate shops? Yep that’s right, those Catalonians go crazy for Easter and all it entails, Easter Eggs included.
These guys do Easter a little differently to us though. Instead of overwhelming kids with hundreds of eggs from every family friend and their dog, it tends to fall to the Godparents to select one special chocolate display for their little ones. Quality over quantity is the key, with each chocolate shop vying to compete for the most impressive, elaborate window display of chocolatey treats. If you’re a godparent in these parts, Easter can be an expensive time of year.
Katy Patino, M&S Easter chocolate expert says: “Spain does Easter chocolate extremely well so we try and come over most years to check out their fabulous eggs. They lead the way on everything from chocolate quality to beautifully designed packaging – from baskets to bows and ribbons. It’s a great place to come and we leave full of inspiration. We look forward to using what we’ve seen to create a great collection of Easter eggs for 2018!”
With this in mind we headed to the beautiful city with our friends at Marks and Spencer to chomp our way through the finest examples of chocolate we could find – all in the name of research of course…
This tiny chocolate shop has won a number of international awards and we can see why. The modern space – think back lit walls and glass display shelves is home to the most impressive chocolate centrepieces. If you’re entertaining this Easter, why not finish with a leaning Chocolate Jenga, complete with hand painted eggs, balancing precariously. Too much? Luckily you can buy the little eggs individually too. The cocoa pods were very realistic and came in a plethora of colours (gold, red green). Oriol was home to the most stylish children’s character shapes we’ve ever seen – we’re pretty sure most adults would be happy to receive these too! Start your chocolate safari here and grab one of their award winning croissants for breakfast.
The Easter characters here are next level. We couldn’t resist picking up a colourful Robot head but there were also beautiful butterfly’s, cheeky tigers and even a monkey balancing a banana on his head. The shop plays a video showing you just how each creation is made and you can also take a pew and try one of their stunning mirror cakes – the shiny red apple was like something straight out of Snow White. If you’re looking for dessert, go for this full size gold branch cake. La Patisseria is our top choice for chocolate your little ones will love.
If you’re looking to steal the show, look no further. Boci had the most insane scenes, created entirely from chocolate. Think funfairs with moving Ferris Wheels, castles with turrets and even dumper trucks! For something slightly more in the spirit of Easter, the white chocolate hen with contouring (!) made us smile. Even if it’s not Easter, Boci is still worth stopping by for their row upon row of mix and match chocolate.
Escriba was the most traditional shop we visited on our travels. As you enter the store you’re greeted by a huge mirror, decorated to look like a cake. Our favourite character was a green chocolate turtle, complete with moving wobbly head. The eggs here were bright and colourful, wrapped in fabric and finished with ribbons and feathers. Chocolate lollies were planted in terracotta pots – something M&S will be looking at for next season. Once you’ve had a browse, take a pew and try their traditional custard filled mini doughnuts. We challenge you to only have one! They are also known for their Lulu Guinness esque mirror lips, slightly tacky but hilarious take on emojis and even a gold chocolate boot for football player Luis Suarez!
The last shop on our whistle stop tour was also hands down our favourite. Bubo creates geometric shapes with premium velvet finishes. Think giant red apples, with jelly wiggly worms, pirate skulls with gold coins and red and white toadstools! Each comes with a cute little hammer for smashing through the shell where you’ll find the shape stuffed to the brim with a selection of sweet treats – just like the good ol’ days! The selection was just mind-blowing & very sophisticated. We were told they are working on a special heart shaped egg with a small hole in which you can hide an engagement ring! *Hint Hint*
A must visit on the chocolate trail.
We stayed at…
If you like the thought of a chocolate city break, we’d recommend staying at the B-Hotel. Located north east in the Sant Antoni area, it’s a super swanky setting in a pretty convenient location. The rooms are MASSIVE and feature a glass walled shower cubicle – make sure you’re sharing a room with someone you want to see naked. The rooftop pool is just the thing for cooling down in after a heavy day of chocolate shop stalking and features huge cacti. Big fans of Cava, we were impressed to see it was offered on ice at breakfast (alongside all your regular juices and hot drinks). We’d highly recommend.
We ate at…
Wow, just wow. Although Mexican may not be your first choice of cuisine for a quick city break in Barcelona, we’d urge you to reconsider because Nino Viejo is too damn good to miss.
From the celebrity chefs behind highly regarded tapas restaurant Tickets, comes this friendly, neighbourhood Taqueria. Think neon signs, floral wipe clean table clothes and enough margaritas to floor your grandmother. Every single dish was a winner and service was upbeat and fun! We started with slices of hot pink pear, served on ice, each of which are injected with a shot of tequila (don’t expect to leave this place sober). Even such simple dishes as mango were next level when sprinkled with chipotle. Tacos are served one by one in an orderly manor – the fish tacos went down so well we may have ordered another round.
The absolute standout dish though was the deconstructed olive — a signature Ferran Adrià dish of a soft black gelatin sphere filled with the juice of 20 olives, salsa verde, lime juice, Tabasco and coriander. Pop it into your mouth in one and feel it burst. A-mazing.
Imagine the most sophisticated food court you possibly can and you’ll go some way to picturing El Nacional. A favourite with locals and tourists alike, this grand space is split into sections – cocktail bar, oyster bar, grill, tapas, fish – all under the same roof. Even before you’ve tasted a thing it’s just a spectacular space which we fell in love with. We went for the tapas area (when in Rome!) where you order cold tapas, and during busy periods the hot tapas is bought around the tables for you to grab if it takes your fancy. The absolute dream.
We had so much fun hanging out with the chocolate team at M&S and we can’t WAIT to see what creations they come up with for Easter 2018. In the meantime, check out this year’s selection online and in store.