Mercer Barcelona by Ashley Bartner-32

As the snow was falling in Italy our plane gently landed on a warm winter night in Barcelona. A winter weekend getaway back to one of our favorite cities –

The Mercer Hotel Barcelona is flawless blend of luxury & design with sustainability and rich history in the heart of the Gothic Quarter.

After a long drive and late flight, we were greeted with a glass of cava served with a wide friendly smile and the soft Catalunyan accent welcoming us to this hidden jem. The warm white sandelwood drew us deeper in and up to our room.

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Molton Brown amenities, modern chic design, luscious sheets and terrace with a quiet courtyard below (complete with Roman arches)!

Up early as usual, in time for sunrise on the rooftop terrace…

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We enjoyed the simple luxury of reading the paper (in English) with a caffe con leche, fresh squeezed orange juice and perfectly poached eggs! I am a fan of breakfast this was a spread of flaky pastries, rich yogurts, fresh fruits & delights fit for a king! I had to hold back because I knew I’d be eating my way through the day –

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We wandered the maze of the Gothic Quarter as the kids hurried to school, not a tourist in site (part of why I love traveling in the off-season). Window shopping at El Born’s hipster hot-spots I worked up an appetite (and J lost his…!).

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Lunch at Le Bouchon was capped off with a light as a pillow Babà that made you want to weep with a dollop of creamy & nutty ricotta on the side. A match made in heaven: Two proud & passionate chefs one from Sicily the other Campania share their truly thoughtful collaboration/dish with us.

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By afternoon, the streets were packed with locals soaking in the warm winter sun, it was just perfect – 18/19 degrees C, no humidity and a light warm breeze. It felt like a May day.  La Sagrada Família, a few Guadi highlights and countless corridors, we weaved our way through this great city with ease.

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Back in time for a tour of the kitchen with the creative Sous Chef Christian Leonetti. He was eager to share how he shops at the local markets daily and my favorite part (a little known fact) the owner of the Mercer Hoteles, Mr. Pedro Molina grows the produce himself at his nearby villa. This is a man I would love to meet, everything about him is old-school and in the best way; hard working, cares for his employees and… passionate enough to build a greenhouse to feed his hotel! (We’ve had a farm for over 8 years alongside our inn and its a ton of work, you only do it if you love it.)

I shot a ton of great footage and snapped more photos, leaving the hustle and bustle of the city behind we escaped up the rooftop terrace and was treated to gorgeous light as dusk fell over the Gothic Quarter…If it were Spring or Summer I can only imagine taking a dip in the pool with the lovely smells of lush lavender, rosemary, mint while growing in the rooftop herb garden.

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With my work done, it was time for an evening aperitivo…when I’m on holiday (or vacay if that sounds too English-proper) I love a good dirty martini!

The seductive bar is set within ancient stone walls that have over 2000 years of history. The hotel is located at tower #28 (the same number of rooms) of 76 towers that once surrounded the Roman fortification of Barcelona! The bar and library are part of the old passageway between the towers…not a bad place for a drink!

Invited to a five course feast, each dish thoughtfully paired with local wine. But this was not your normal ‘tasting’ – this is the new menu at Kresios of the brand new Chef Giuseppe Iannotti! They have been eagerly waiting his arrival at the hotel with the opening just days away!!  There was a buzz about the dinning room because we were the first guests to taste the new menu, we were honored and more than excited. Plus, we brought an appetite!

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I was enjoying my meal much too much to take photos of each dish but in between glasses of white I managed to snap a few.  It’s funny how we left Italy for our holiday looking forward to over-eating Spanish food yet ended up have one of the best, most refined Italian meals in our life! The menu, perfectly executed, combining the rustic Italian countryside cooking with the highly trained and creative eye of a Chef seeking his Michelin Star! It was a beautiful nod to where he has come from and where is he is now – from the countryside of Campania to the elegant kitchen of a five star hotel in Barcelona. The hotel maintains its unpretentious vibe into the dinning room, we ate with hands all of the antipasti – and loved it!

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A few of the menu highlights of the night and our two cents:

The first two antipasti were right up my alley: fat and skin
A bite of Foie gras lightly rolled in coconut with a center of bitter chocolate (This was an amazing way to start the meal – especially since the Chef told me in the kitchen how excited he was to try this!)
Crispy Baccalà (salt cod) skins served in warm sunflower seeds (Served in a box of hot sunflower seeds kept the skins crispy by absorbing any moisture – absolutely ingenious & delicious!)Andalusian olive oil tasting (reminded me of Italy…)

I’m skipping ahead to what stole the night – Baccalà in a light tempura with tart green apple & fish stock puree (This left us speechless – the tart apple & salty fish…I would have never thought to pair the two and it was perfect.)

The desserts did not disappoint –
Lemon granite with mint sorbet and mini mojito (A fun & refreshing palate cleanser – loved the mojito & drank Jason’s too!)
Tobacco gelato with salted caramel with a chocolate crumble (This was the icing on the cake, literally left the sensation of smoking a cigar at the end of your meal . It was so unexpected and satisfying.)

It was the ideal winter getaway!

 

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The Details:
Mercer Hotel Barcelona
www.mercerbarcelona.com

Calle dels Lledó, 7
08002 Barcelona (España)
Tel: +34 93 310 74 80
Fax: +34 93 310 23 87
info@mercerbarcelona.com

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