Though Spain was the first country to officially experience the wonders of chocolate, back in 1528 when it arrived from the ‘New World’, edible chocolate did not emerge until the eighteenth century. Barcelona was there at the forefront of the edible chocolate revolution, shortly after the invention of the first chocolate-making machine in 1780.
Barcelona’s historic chocolatiers
The Barcelona chocolatiers, Chocolates Amatller began crafting chocs for the new, more widespread ‘eatership’ in 1797, and, as we all know, the rest is history. The Casa Amatller still stands today, next door to Gaudi’s Casa Batllò (the one that looks like a gingerbread house). The Casa Amatller, Gaudi’s work, is an exemplary piece of modernist architecture, making it an intrinsically Barcelona-esque building in more ways than one.
Other chocolatiers soon began springing up all over Barcelona in the nineteenth century, including Simón Coll’s family business that began on the outskirts of Barcelona n 1840. Their signature “Chocolate à la Tazá” has been made for seven generations, and under the same label and with the very same recipe since before 1880. To cut short what would be a tremendously long list of classic Barcelona-based chocolatiers, I’ll just say that Barcelona’s chocolate-making pedigree is one of the best.
Chocolate Themed Tours
Given Barcelona’s illustrious background in the chocolate industry, there are, of course, numerous experiences on offer for the chocoholic on holiday in the city. There are a number of tours available, which will arrange everything from chocolate tasting to a three course chocolate dinner, served with wine designed to complement the meal.
It is true that chocolate is more versatile as a foodstuff than we commonly believe, and this sort of chocolate-based dinner will put pay to any reservations you might have regarding the serving of chocolate sauce on a steak!
There are other courses that offer a more rigorous experience of Barcelona as a chocolate heaven, for example, Gourmand Breaks whose tours comprise a mouth-watering four days of total immersion in Barcelona’s chocolate hotspots! Having said that, with a little research it is quite easy to conduct your own chocolate tour.
Start, as most visitors to Barcelona do, by heading to Las Ramblas, the main strip that runs through the centre of the city. Make a beeline for the Café de l’Opera, right on Las Ramblas. You can’t miss it. The Café de l’Opera was previously one of the leading chocolaterias in the city, and it still boasts the breath-taking Viennese style interior and exterior decor. Its collection of unique antique mirrors still adorn the walls, quite as they did in the café’s heyday. Not only does the Café de l’Opera have a stellar chocolate heritage, but it is also one of Barcelona’s oldest surviving restaurants. Enjoy a meal from the restaurant’s à la carte menu, if you can bring yourself to wait before tucking into one (or two?) the many mouth-watering chocolate desserts.
However, if waiting for dessert just isn’t your style, then you will definitely enjoy a trip to Espai Sucre, one of the world’s only dessert-only restaurants. Yes. Dessert only. Amongst the range of special set menus and tasting menus on offer at Espai Sucre, you will find a special chocolate menu. Just one piece of advice: come in comfortable, roomy clothes!
Museu de la Xocolata
If, by now, you’re not already experiencing chocolate overload, your next stop will be the jewel in Barcelona’s choc-tastic crown: the Museu de la Xocolata. Here, you can learn all about the history of chocolate, manufacturing techniques and tour the gallery of chocolate art and sculpture. The Chocolate Museum is one of Barcelona’s most kid friendly attractions. So, if you are traveling with chocolate loving kids (what kid doesn’t love chocolate?), don’t hesitate to include it on your itinerary.
Once you’ve made it round the museum, head straight to the museum’s shop, and order a cup of hot chocolate. This is not just any hot chocolate, and definitely worth experiencing even on the hottest of summer days: this hot chocolate is thick, like liquid chocolate. I’ll just let you process that thought a moment…
More Chocolate Hotspots
Ready? Well, it probably goes without saying that with a bellyful of hot chocolate, a three course chocolate meal and a big bag of chocs from the Boqueria market, you’re likely to be feeling a little off-colour. Time for a little TLC (and, by that, I mean Totally Loads of Chocolate). Check in at the Gran Hotel Balneario Blancafort Thermal Spa and order yourself onto the spa’s Blancafort Chocolate Therapy programme. Choose from a melted chocolate wrap, a chocolate and orange cream massage, or a body cleansing sugar peel, and get as much choc on the outside of your body as you’ll have on the inside. After all that, the little sweet they leave on your hotel pillow will seem a bit underwhelming!