Wednesday, 19 May 2010

What was the Chocolate Pudding like?

There are probably a great number of really good café/bars in the world and our manner of coming upon them may well influence our choice when deciding which ones should be on the list.

Mine includes The Lisboa on Goldhawk Road near Portobello Market in London and now El Arc, Gerona in Spain.

The coming upon was pretty special, but it’s a great bar/café nonetheless -Bocadillos de Queso that taste as if heaven made them (ok, I was very, very hungry) fresh squeezed orange juice and a free Internet connection. And a lot more besides, including some sort of link to Salvador Dali.

I don’t know Gerona so I had parked the car as far as the Centre Ciutat signs would take me and then started walking. First along an expensive shopping street, then across a square full of cafes and then across a narrow bridge over the River Onyar that plunged us into the narrow streets of the old town around the cathedral.

It turned out to be the middle of the “Time of the Flowers” festival that may, my Catalan is a bit sketchy, be in its 55th year.

Nooks, crannies, courtyards and gardens hidden inside medieval monuments participate in adding art to flowers or flowers to art and you are invited to wander and wonder. We entered exits, exited from entrances, climbed stairs, delved into corners until we emerged at the Cathedral heights.

Somehow in the floral excitement we had forgotten to eat and a sudden collective growl from three stomachs sent us downwards towards a bar we had spotted from on high.

It took a while as we were constantly distracted into participating alleyways and doorways but somehow, more by accident than design we found ourselves at the entrance to El Arc, which also sells homemade chocolate pudding!

The bar is at the foot of the steps that go up to the cathedral - on Saturday they were closed and covered with flower installations. There are tables outside or up against the bar or in the half-lit back room; you can watch the street or the clients, or the waitress making your sandwiches.

What was the chocolate pudding like?

Sold out! I saw the last one being swallowed! It looked gooooood!

An excuse to go back soon, I’ll keep you posted.


Mary said...

Hi Chris:

Our coffee shops don't have the charm of cafe/bars in Europe but have established themselves as the place to meet friends, do business, or sit for hours with a book [people like me] or a laptop checking messages, chatting, or writing your first best-selling novel.

My favourite one right now is the L'Espresso Bar Mercurio on the south side of Bloor Street West [not to be confused with the Bar Mercurio right across the street on the north side of Bloor West - where the original restaurant sits]. At night, L'Espresso's beautiful garden terrace sparkles against the backdrop of 170 year old dark grey stone turretted building on the University of Toronto's campus.

But my all-time favourite unfortunately no longer exists -- The Coffee Mill in the Lothian Mews was tucked in behind the University Theatre [also no longer there] just north of the University of Toronto's campus. As a student, I would make my way down the long alleyway to the tiny courtyard -- very English with its wood-fronted shops -- where undergrads, Grads, and professors gathered for lively (and sometimes lofty) discussion about Homer, Plato, Shakespeare, Milton and Dante. All four seasons could be enjoyed in that little world of twinkly light. Falling leaves, chubby snowflakes, pink blossoms --and the coffee was great! Gone now, caught in the (cob)web of my memory.

PS -- As you can tell, am suffering from extreme bouts of nostalgia these days!

PPS - Great picture of paper boats ... merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, ...

Mary x

Mary said...

Chris -- my techno-idiocy continues. Sorry I published my comment twice. Don't know how I did it. Hopefully you can delete one of them.


popps said...

What is it with the transatlantics - always deleting things? Coffee shops? Comments? Regimes? etc etc

Mary said...


Here are the mantras of transatlantic thinking:

1) Old is bad
2) Change is good
3) New is good
4) More change is even better

... as long as all of it makes money.

I recall an observation you made to me in Vancouver about how hideous most of the new building construction was. You said something like -- one would think that in a place where there is so much space and opportunity to build something from scratch, we'd choose to create something beautiful that would last.

But will add the 2-storey, floor to ceiling glass-windowed Blue Parrot Espresso Bar at Granville Island Public Market which looks out to the courtyard where the buskers perform, the Burrard and Granville Bridges and False Creek. Still there ... still fabulous.


popps said...

I don't know mary but you probably shouldn't quote me from so long ago, i'm sure i was naive and ignorant.

I remember staying in a heritage house which in fact was almost younger than me, and that too has probably been demolished.

Mary said...

Naive -- maybe. Ignorant -- not.

I remember that house -- close to Stanley Park and just a couple of blocks from English Bay. Great sunsets from that beach. It may just have survived the wrecking ball. We can dream.


popps said...

One of my favourite benches in the world was down there in that sunset.

vicki hollett said...

Yes, please keep us posted. I feel like I'm going on holiday with you.

popps said...

Hmm, Vicki, a chocolate lover then?

Vicki Hollett said...

Well not really - can generally take it or leave it. But I have come to respect its finer mouth watering and tempting qualities through reading your blog.

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