Barcelona Centre Hotel (Calle Balmes, 103-105 ) – Equal in every way

Every time I stay in a hotel I look for the following 5 key themes in the room:

  1. Great bed as described – double or king as booked, reasonably firm with soft sheets and a good selection of pillows
  2. Bathroom – well maintained and as clean as a pin
  3. Effective and controllable heating and lighting
  4. Accessible plug points by beds
  5. Breakfast – better then I would have at home

Hotel Barcelona Centre  had 4 out of 5.  Of course there were a few blips along the way but we would recommend this hotel for its excellent team and good sized rooms.  We chose the hotel for its location which is close to shopping, Casa Mila / Le Pedera and the fabulous Cerveseria Catalana which is another review.  Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond my control I have just one photographs of this hotel so you will have to rely on my words alone.

Checking in – We arrived and first impression of the hotel was good based on the facade and entering the reception area. The reception team were very friendly and professional and service was efficient and our check-in was very quick.

Bedroom;  was located on the 5th floor at the front of the hotel – which did prove quite noisy late into the small hours which could be corrected with some triple glazing. However the noise pollution was not that intrusive that we felt the need to be moved.   Our room was very spacious, modern and very clean.

Bathroom was the same and if you needed extra comfort supplies there was list of available options. The bed were two twins pushed together which was very disappointing as when we booked a double; however the bed was very comfortable.  Air con was effective and quiet and easily controlled.

We were on the 5th floor at the front of the hotel – which did prove quite noisy late into the small hours, which I am sure could be corrected with some triple glazing. However, the noise pollution was not that intrusive that we felt the need to be moved.

Concierge team were great with a special mention to Luth, who was incredible. I had accident on our first day (watch out on those pedestrian crossings the taxis don’t always stop) and he found me a crutch, helped me across the road to the local bistro, stopping traffic…above and beyond any service I have received before from a hotel or anyone in the service industry.  He is a credit to the hotel.

Restaurant did not entice us in as the menu did not focus on local produce or Catalan cuisine. We did order room service (due to me being immobile) which was quick and good but for a Beef burger and a Jamon toasted sandwich (my bread was over toasted almost burnt) with 2 waters at 48 Euros and the quality this was far too expensive in my opinion.

Breakfast; charged at €18 per person, which is served in the basement (shame they cannot utilise the 7th floor terrace but sadly it is clearly not logistical possible).  The choices were varied and all the offerings looked and tasted good. Its the first time I have had ham and cheese for breakfast and I really enjoyed it.   The only exception were the pastries they were not up to the Catalan standard; the were quite dry and the Churros were the worst I have ever had, really heavy in texture and quite stale – which was a shame as all other dishes were good. The coffee (machine dispensed) was incredibly strong, the most potent I have ever had.

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Considering we were there in the height of summer it was surprising there was no bar service open during the day on the terrace (which was not a bad place to be confined to following the accident).  The hotel was quiet in this area – yet we know it was full from reception .  When we wanted a drink we would have to travel to the ground floor or you could call reception for service.  I would think that Hotel Barcelona Centre  is mainly used by business guests.

I recommend the hotel and would staff her again based on all of the above. When we arrived the walk from Provença metro station took us minutes to this great hotel.

We would stay here again and would recommend you do – this is based on the service we received and the standard of the hotel, we paid €72 per night for 5 nights.

Room Tip: Avoid front if you are a light sleeper

If you want to read more of my adventures you can follow me at EatBakeBlogGB for foodie reviews.

Happy Travels!

Louise x

Louise Winder Food & Travel 

Lemon Drizzle Traybake – #zestybaker

Never baked Lemon Drizzle before yesterday  but a dear colleague is moving on to new challenges and this cake is her favorite.  It’s taken me a while to find the elusive 30 x 23 cms tray that Mary Berry uses  (if you follow me on twitter you may have caught my grumblings).   I was tempted to pimp this but i’m playing safe today.

So what next…

Grease and line your  30 x 23 cms tin with baking parchment/paper (remember, if you use larger tin you wont get the same rise).  Line your tin I and heat your oven to 140°c (fan) or Gas mark 3 then weigh out and prepare your ingredients but hold on for the crunchy topping.

You will need

  • 225g Softened Butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 275g Self-raising flour
  • 2 level teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of milk
  • finely grated rind/zest of 2 lemons

For the crunchy topping you will need

  • 175g granulated sugar (beware not to use a finer grade or you will not get the crunch)
  • Juice of 2 lemons (beware to to use large lemons – read on to see why)
  1. Measure the butter, caster sugar, SR flour, baking powder,eggs, milk and lemon zest/rind into your bowl and beat until well blended.  Remember your butter must be soft to touch before your start this process.
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  2. Turn your mixture into the greased/lined tray and gently level
  3. Place the tray in the oven on a middle shelf for 35-40 minutes – or until the cake has pulled back from the sides of the tin and if you gently press the middle if fingertips you see it spring back
  4. Leave the bake in the tin to cool for five minutes.
  5. When times up, turn it out on a cooling rack and carefully peel the parchment/paper from the base and leave to cool further
  6. Make your crunchy topping by mixing the granulated sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl to give a runny mixture
  7. Spoon this over the cake while it is still warm
  8. Cut into squares once cold.
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Lemon Drizzle Tray Bake by EatBakeBlogBG

Lessons learnt

My oven was slightly too hot – school girl error – always check your temperature or expect that doming.

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The lemons, despite being fabulously juicy, produced a lot of juice which is never a bad thing.   However  I think the amount of juice they produced took the crunch from the topping – too much juice to sugar.  It could also have been that the bake was too warm and melting the sugar .  What I do know is that baking is a learning curve and next time I will measure juice to try and find that perfect mix and use a more averaged size lemon.  In the meantime a cheats sprinkle of granulated the morning after gave these the crunch they deserved.

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Big juicy lemons – too much juice to sugar for the topping

Every cloud has a silver lining as these lemons gave me an incredibly zest and moist lemon drizzle and I look forward to baking this again but next time with some savory thyme.

Hope you like this and my pictures and if you try this with a twist then please share your thoughts.

If you like my blog why not follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

Louise x

EatBakeBlogGB

 

Return to Ego (@Beverley Arms Ackworth)

We returned to Ego on Thursday as we  needed a pick-me-up and I really fancied a good steak.

Thankfully, Ego were able to accommodate us at short notice which was a surprise as they are incredibly popular mid-week which I attribute to their specialist offers.  Tonight was Kebab night, and before you ask I do not mean Donner, I could have been tempted to falter from my desire for steak.

We were  greeted cheerily by one of the hosts and were offered a choice of table by the window (I much prefer this area, as I am not a fan of some of other areas of the restaurant which have a little too much atmosphere).

We do rate Ego and the main reason is for the great staff, they are warm and friendly and when it counts bold and not afraid to deal with issues where so many hide or mismanage. The customer service skills of this team are a credit to the restaurant and their infrequent weakness in the kitchen are forgiven for deftness of the front of house team.

The food ordered was the chicken Liver and rosemary pate and deep fried brie for starters. Then for our mains I ordered the fillet steak with skin on chips and David ordered the lamb rump with risotto and green and spring onion pesto.

The starters we served, the pate was very chilled as before I wish the kitchen would hold this back and let it reach somewhere near room temperature.  Maybe if they made this in a terrine and served a slices this could achieved.  If you like me believe certain foods taste best at certain temperatures you might like this article .  The pate as it warmed tasted great, although the rosemary as not detectable –  I am assuming this rosemary was only present in the butter used to seal the pate.   The marmalade of chilli tomato as a side was left by me but it was very much enjoyed by David – he preferred this with his creamy brie over the orange and apricot marmalade he was served.

Our mains were served and the steak looked good. It was cooked to order medium-rare with a lovely rocket garnish a garlic dressed plum tomato and a dish of skin on chips.  The fillet had good crunch on the outside with a pink and rare centre. I get so fed up of being served overcooked steaks #Cowshed

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The only extra not welcome on this plate was the huge chip – which is not on my shoulder!  Shame  the chef let a meal leave his kitchen like this.

David’s dish of Lamb Rump was tender and cooked medium and sat on a rich and creamy risotto finished with zesty pesto (and no chips in sight).

Our bill came to £50 which included 3 drinks and after our Ego discount was applied.

The quality remains to be good at Ego one day I look forward to them having local produce on the menu.  We will continue to support our local restaurant and hope that the kitchen team can raise their game to mirror the A team working front of house.

If you’d like to read more of my food adventures your can follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

Louise

 

 

Freezer burn; here’s a saucy remedy for your pasta

Tonight we needed a quick tea so raided the freezer for a leftover stash.  I found an unlabelled mysterious package which turned out to be a batch of bolognaise sauce.

The only way to salvage was to whip up my favourite  tomato sauce…

Onion (medium) sliced and diced
Carrot (medium) scrubbed and grated
Garlic clove crushed
Teaspoon of fennel seeds crushed
Tin on chopped plum tomatoes opened

Splash of oil in sauce pan add onion, carrot and cook on medium heat for five minutes

Add garlic and fennel and cook for a further 2 minutes then add tomatoes.

Cook for 15 minutes, season and blitz with a stick blender taking care not to splash yourself.

Add enough sauce to the bolognaise to bring it back to life.

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I love this sauce the fennel really gives it a depth of flavour and it’s really rich and smooth the carrot removes any acidity from the tomatoes .

Just goes to show how easy it is to cook from scratch using simple ingredients.

We’ve yet to try this with just pasta but I feel confident with some basil ripped over the top it would be a winner too.

Love Louise X
Louise Winder Food & Travel
#EatBakeBlog

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Sunday Chorizo Brunch from Delia Smith

Isn’t it funny how we can forget about dishes in our repitoire and they disappear into fond food memories.  Well today, I decided to revisit this wonderful dish that I disovered via my first food hero Delia.  My bookshelves are full of her books but this new wonder foodie resource DeliaOnline has become a go to for me.

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Delia recommends a shallow gratin dishe measuring 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter, which will hold one or two eggs I use my Falcon enamel round pie dish or the recatangular version.

You will need the following ingredients:

  • 75g of Chorizo (today I used a cheat)
  • Red pepper (cut in half, quarters then sliced thinley into lengths)
  • Onion (medium sliced in spears)
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic (chopped)
  • 4-5 Really ripe tomatoes *
  • 3-4 free range eggs
  • 50g Cheddar or any good melting cheese
  • Shot of Dry Sherry; this is optional
  • Salt and pepper

 

Method

Step 1 turn your oven on to 180ºc (fan) or gas mark 4.

Step 2 deseed the pepper, remove the white flesh cut in half, then quarters and slice finely into lengths.

Step 3 Peel your onion and cut in half and cut into thin spears.
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Step 4 Boil your kettle and put the tomatoes into a large (1 litre Pyrex jug) and cover the tomatoes.  Within 1 minute they will be ready to be skinned.  Some of the skins might be difficult to remove, I leave the odd bit on.  (Delia removes the seeds I prefer to leave the seeds in; each to their own).

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Peeling tomatoes

Step 5  next chop the tomatoes  into pieces and then finely chop the garlic.
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Step 6 heat a pan (I used a small wok for this dish) with about a tablespoon of oil (I used rapeseed) when the oil is hot add the chorizo pieces to brown them off, I added a slug of Oloroso Sherry just to make it that little bit more spanish.  Once cooked off I then place these into the dish I am going to use.

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Dry sherry

Step 7  Add the onion and pepper to the pan and cook on a high heat, until  they are starting to soft with brown edges – this will take about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the thickeness of the slices.

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Step 8 add tomatoes

Step 8 add the chopped tomatoes and garlic and cook for 1 minute more and return the browned chorizo to the pan.  Give it a good turn around to meld all the flavours.

Step 9 season well with freshly ground salt and black pepper.

Step 10 take the pan off the heat heat and place the mixture  in the dish.  Break your eggs into the dish (as I am using a one pot I space these out equally) .  If you use indiviudal dishes then sit you eggs side by side on top of the mixture.

Step 11 now you should have the mixture with eggs sat on top so season and sprinkle each one with your grated cheese.

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Ready to bake

Step 12  place the dish or dishes on the baking sheet on the top shelf of the oven to cook for 12-15 minutes (or a little longer, depending on how you like your eggs).

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Thanks for reading my blog and I would love to read your comments. If you like my blog then you can follow me on Twitter @EatBakeBlogGB or read my restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor.

Happy blogging.

Louise x

© EatBakeBlogGB / Louise Winder Food & Travel all rights reserved.
Ego at The Beverly Arms

It’s no Ego trip (Donaster Road, Ackworth)

This review focuses on our first impression of Ego at the Beverley Arms  and a few comments on our subsequent visits.

We booked in on day 3 of trading at the newly opened Ego at the Beverley Arms.   We arrived at 730pm and were quickly seated our drinks order was taken about 15 minutes later.  There is a lovely buzz about the place with a hint of chaos from a new team which added to the excitement and anticipation.  I am craving an excellent restaurant locally and hope this fits the bill.  However they clearly can seat over 100 covers so I hope they have the experienced team to handle this with their extensive menu.

Around 745pm we placed our order from the a la carte menu ordering the Chicken and Rosemary Pate and Moules Marinieres to start. Followed by Moroccan Lamb  Tanjine and Iberian Belly Pork, served on a bed of spinach with black pudding.

The starters arrived around 15 minutes, they were nicely presented (although no finger bowl for the Moules!). The Pate was very chilled so the flavour was lost and the toasted bread  was not really toasted.  The moules, a starter portion was served in a main course bowl #disappointment. The upside was they were juicy and the mariniere sauce was creamy with just enough garlic so they can be forgiven what I see as teething problems.  I do hope the Head Chef orders some small pots to avoid disappointing their diners.

The main course arrived an hour after our initial order.  The Moroccan Lamb was well presented in the Tajine.

Ego at The Beverly Arms
Lamb Tajine

The was no shortage of olives in this dish, the cous-cous, as promised was lightly buttered (and very fluffy), the vegetables were tasty in the rich sauce, the lamb however as tougher than you’d expect for a slow cooked dish.  There was plenty of tzatziki and corriander to compliment.  Overall this dish was tasty – however – I think it is overpriced at £15.95 considering the lack of provenance and the average quality of the lamb.

David enjoyed his belly pork – the sauce was rich and pork was tender and had a wonderfully crisp top. Again though the pricing is high, you can find similar dishes and more plentiful plates for less (consider this is not served with any vegetables or carbohydrates).

The Dauphinoise Gratin was a fraud it was more like Lyonnaise Potatoes; in summary it was cheesy potatoes – not the wonderfully rich creamy garlic dish you’d expect.

Dauphinoise Potatoes
Dauphinoise Potatoes at £3,25 (that’s a desert spoon for reference)!

It was quite late by the time we finished our mains so we did not order a further course or coffee.

Overall we were not bowled over by Ego at the Beverley Arms, I think  the Ego brand may think they are stronger than they are. In my opinion they have some evolving to do.   We paid over £50 (inlcuding a small carafe of red wine) and in my experience I have paid less for more.  In future, we will dine on their special nights as their main course prices match that of a an established city restaurant with great service.

Our second experience was on the steak night this improved upon our first visit. The latest visit was for a family meal for 8 which was better than our first trip but still a long way off, stronger service is needed again the gap between starters and mains was noticible with no apologies and we were left alone far too long with regards to drinks orders as not all the party were wine drinkers.

I give Ego 3 out of 5 and hope that this soon will improve and would recommend you try but if you are too a keen cook you may wish to book in for a specials night first.

If you like my reviews you will find more on Trip Advisor or follow me on Twitter @LouiseWinder

Louise x

#EatBakeBlog