Saturday, December 22, 2007

Off for xmas

Christmas in New York beckons tomorrow, so a very big, happy and joyful one to everybody. We'll be back in early January.  Whether Ronaldinho will still be with Barca is another matter ...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Oh show me the way to the next gin tonic bar

Funny how these things happen. You stumble across a bar that makes some really fine Gin and Tonics - and hey presto you pick up the paper the next day and there it is in a feature about the city's best G&T bars.

The G&T here is many miles away from the colonel's pre-dinner tastebud killer that it is in Britain, where it tends to be served with miniature ice cubes and a translucent and tiny slice of lemon in a dainty shot glass.

Here, quite rightly, it's a hearty post-dinner cocktail designed to get the conversational juices flowing. Take a big brandy style schooner, throw in four large chunky ice cubes and pour over a large helping of gin without the aid of a measure. Then get the flavour in - plenty of lime, cucumber, lemon or mint depending where you are.

At the xixbar where we were last night, it was cucumber in the glass and lime wiped round the rim.

The xix incidentally formed the endpoint to a delightful evening that covered all the bases within a few hundred yards on Calle Tamarit. Start out at the minuscule Casa Jacinta at 154 for a vermouth and anchovies. Then a full dinner of amazing tapas at Albert Adria's Inopia (104) and then across the road to xix (actually at Rocafort 19, but who's counting?).

Other G&T bars on the La Vanguardia list today, none of which have been tried (yet):
  • Dacksy (Consell de Cent 247)
  • Coppelia (Rera Palau 4)
  • Snooker (Roger de Lluria 42)
  • Shenu (Londres 91)

To which I'd add the Ideal (Aribau 89)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Let them have it

Much as the British moan about the state of public transport, you'd be lucky to get 20 people to stage a march to protest their dire state.

Last night we had between 200,000 (the police) and 700,000 (the organisers) on the streets of Barcelona, using four weeks of suburban rail chaos (the result of construction of the final stretch of the AVE high-speed rail link into the city centre) as the springboard for a pretty impressive demonstration of the strength of nationalist feeling here.

This may be a new phase in the Catalan campaign for greater autonomy from Madrid and/or full independence. No more of the 'we are a people, we are a nation ...' homespun philosophy that has a limited appeal but 'Madrid's buggered it up, we couldn't be any worse'.

Indeed they would probably be a lot better. There's the money and the smarts here, so why not? Nationhood based on competence rather than a cultural ideology. This was no factional left wing demo but one that brought together some 150 organisations from across the political spectrum.

Things may move fast. There is a national general election in 2008 so expect plenty of devloutionary bones to be chucked Catalonia's way - promises which may or may not be followed up if the Socialists get elected. Three years later we get Joan Laporta, president of Barca and nationalist in chief, running for office as President of the region. At that point things get really interesting.

PS Note to Catalans. Please, please stop looking to Edinburgh and drooling over the Scottish National Party's minority government as a template for independence there and here. The Scottish Parliament was a bastardised gerrymandered talking shop designed to quell nationalism and keep the Labour party in power in perpetuity.

It went horribly wrong at the last election, but hell will freeze other before a government in London would ever allows any quasi independent powers to go to Scotland.