Vegetarian, vegan, raw-vegan, eco, unprocessed and healthy options: in Barcelona there’s everything you need, from the flexitarian to the raw-vegan universe to discover.
Blue Project Café: the Raw-Vegan Kitchen of an Art Foundation
An original platform for contemporary art, Blue Project takes great pride in their gastronomic space that offers 100% organic food and is one of the first raw vegan destinations to have opened in Barcelona.
For my first visit, I chose to go to Blue Project in the morning, and I found this a great way to start the day. First of all, the surroundings are charming, you are just a few steps away from two of the most emblematic parks of Barcelona and, besides, the charming district of Born, where Blue Project is, looks simply amazing in the morning sun.
The Café is unique for at least two reasons. First of all, it is the cafe of an art foundation, the Blue Project, a platform that, since 2013, is constantly presenting unique collective art exhibitions, from private collections, as well as ambitious personal projects carried out by renowned artists of the contemporary art scene. The entrance is free and the exhibition spaces are directly connected with the cafe.
Then, the Café, the gastronomic space of the foundation, offers 100% organic, raw-vegan and slow food. It is driven by a philosophy of sustainability and healthy living for people and the environment. In their own words: “our recipes are prepared with great dedication, art and good vibrations. Our culinary delights are 100% vegetarian and organic, and we hold the Ecological Restaurant Certification (CAAE) and proximity guarantee (Slow Food).”
The space is simply beautifully decorated with mix&match furniture items, quotes on art (from Alicia Frames, Italo Calvino or Pieter Vermeeresch, among others) displayed on walls and ceiling, has a generous window seeing inside the kitchen and, above all, features a special, blue touch: a bright cobalt shade of paint, designed as accent on all the vintage, solid wood table tops.
My choice for the morning included the raw-vegan cake, a delicious combination of dry fruit with nuts, garnished with goji and coconut flakes, as well a coffee with almond milk (you have the whole selection of vegan choices, also including soy or oats). Other recommendations, here, include the sandwiches with raw bread (the blog of Barcelona Food Experience), or the germinated hummus served on dehydrated apple cookie (Time Out).
Do not forget to visit the exhibitions of the Foundation. The art space hosts, now, two installations – a multimedia one: Julia, Rosa, Angela and the Others After Her, by Julia Gorostidis, and an immersive one, Um Dia Todos Fomos Peixes (photos above), the first solo exhibition of Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto in Barcelona, an installation created with cotton knit fabric, semiprecious stones, sand, salt and… powder clove, that gives an irresistible perfume to the artistic experience.
Teresa’s Stairway: the Flexitarian Place of a Renowned Catalan chef
Juice bar, healthy eatery and experimental slow fast food, this gem also has an unique design addressing the street: a huge window filled with their whole selection of natural, cold-pressed juices. The concept of the kitchen addresses mainly vegetarian concepts, with several raw-vegan highlights, but also includes fish as ingredient.
The interior is cozy and, just as much as the window, emphasizing on the great choices of the menu, with a food bar displaying plant-based and gluten free bakery, alongside salads, soups and bowls. The menu of Teresa’s Stairway is completed by veggie-nut milks, activated h2o-s, smoothies, toasts, burgers and tacos, and the cuisine is described as being healthy, fast casual flexitarian: “one day we asked ourselves how a Healthy Fast Food Restaurant might look like. And we started to create it, to give shape to it… we actually made it happen: Teresa’s Stairway to Health.”
Predicted as key food trend for 2017, flexitarianism is, in Barcelona, only one of the approaches of Teresa Carles – a self-made, experienced in vegetal and natural products Chef, in charge of Teresa Carles Healthy Foods since 1979, and the author of notable cooking books as well. “Deeply influenced by a traditional and familiar Catalan cuisine, Teresa leap into cooking with a goal in mind: using the best products from her motherland (Algerri, Lleida) to create recipes as tasty as her grandmothers’ and mother’s but in a natural and much healthier way.”
Around the world, flexitarianism is becoming increasingly popular, also thanks to high-profile champions including Sir Richard Branson, Emma Thompson and Jamie Oliver, who all support the Meat-Free Monday campaign started by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney in 2009.
Teresa’s Stairway menu is a great illustration of what semi-vegetarianism can look like. Many of the dishes are plant based, but there is also selection of fish, thus the Red Quinoa and Yellow Fin Tuna Sashimi Bowl is one of my favorite dishes, here. And so are the smoothies, like The Cubanito, with raw cocoa and banana.
The graphic design – a fresh and playful concept developed by Srta. Swallow (Laia Delgado) as a series of pixel-art icons – goes great for the packaging and the menu.
Teresa’s Stairway (right next to Via Laietana) is just one of the locations of Teresa’s food chain, so if you want to extend your slow, healthy route, just cross the Gothic District and the Ramblas and head near Plaça de Catalunya to Flax&Kale, for a vegetarian afternoon snack or an exquisite weekend brunch. I won’t say anything else except that here is the place to try crema catalana vegana.
Petit Brot: the Raw-Vegan Place with Sustainable Interior
An organic cold-press juice bar & living foods store, Petit Brot is just a few steps away from La Boqueria Market, in the area of Raval. It promotes a sustainable, ethical and healthy lifestyle – from the ingredients and the menu to the interior design materials and techniques, or the use of renewable energy sources.
Local, organic, raw vegan, sustainable, ethical, fair trade, gluten free – that’s how the menu of Petit Brot is described. They offer 100% organic, living cold-pressed juices, wheat grass shots and super food smoothies, prepared in front of your eyes. The menu also includes raw-vegan meals and desserts.
The space also received a particular attention, as it was created “using bio-construction techniques, with walls made of natural and biodegradable materials, non-toxic mineral paint, bamboo floor and wooden items from sustainable forests, electricity from renewable sources, among others.”
Petit Brot is run by Laura and Ales, a young couple that wishes to “offer and promote conscious, sustainable, ethical and truly healthy food & lifestyle with a vision of a better and healthier world. Our drinks and foods are handmade, and are prepared with 100% plant-based and unrefined raw ingredients just as Nature provides them!”
One of the most original touch I found, here, are the sprouts trays that beautifully decorate the interior.
The sunflower ones (photos above) are, as Ales explains to me, among the healthiest of sprouts you could choose to eat (they contain 20-25% protein with all essential amino acids and are considered a complete protein-rich food. Also, the sprouted seed is high in natural enzymes, vitamins A, C, E and B vitamins as well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, niacin, zinc, selenium, potassium and phosphorus).
Petit Brot offers, besides the list mentioned above, a lunch menu that changes every week. I went there last Thursday, when they were serving their Wild Burger with Salad – a joyful explosion of textures and tastes with a subtle spicy touch (from a tiny bit of cayenne in the beet) and lots of sprouts in the salad.
About the Route
You can see pretty much the entire historic area of central Barcelona, as this route is designed to cover three area, and crosses El Born, the Gothic, passes La Boqueria market and stops in El Raval. There’s a lot to enjoy, on this route, besides the 3 stops for tasting: El Born CCM, Montcada, San Jaume, La Boqueria, El Raval.
A Footnote on Vegetarian Kitchen
The vegetarian kitchen is a pretty respectable old institution, even though they took a long time until making it accessible to everybody. If you’re curious, well the Time Magazine says, for instance:
The first vegetarian society was formed in 1847 in England. Three years later, Rev. Sylvester Graham, the inventor of Graham crackers, co-founded the American Vegetarian Society. Graham was a Presbyterian minister and his followers, called Grahamites, obeyed his instructions for a virtuous life: vegetarianism, temperance, abstinence, and frequent bathing. In November 1944, a British woodworker named Donald Watson announced that because vegetarians ate dairy and eggs, he was going to create a new term called vegan, to describe people who did not. Or L.A. Weekly says that Raw Food Dining Room started to serve, in 1918, in Los Angeles, health drinks, uncooked soups, fruit, flower and vegetable salads, unbaked breads, and pies and cakes baked only by the California sun. After a serious time gap, there are plenty vegetarian and vegan options to choose from, today.