The lazy brunch might be one of the most appreciated things to do on weekend, or cap de setmana in Catalan. So, if planning to enjoy authentically local vibes, then Passeig de Sant Joan might be one of the best spots for a brunch in Barcelona.
2 or 3 Things
to Start With
While having the coffee at Chicha Limoná and still deciding what to have: what’s the history of brunch, anyway? Is it a new thing? Or a classic? Is it American or European? Well it seems that, as in the case with many other culinary patterns and traditions, the origins are somehow hazy.
Some think that the meal has its roots in England’s hunt breakfasts – lavish multi-course meals including chicken livers, eggs, meats, bacon, fresh fruit and sweets. Others – that Sunday brunch derives from the practice of Catholics fasting before mass and then sitting down for a large midday meal. And then there are those who look to New York’s abundance of dining spots when it comes to tracing the origins of classic brunch dishes from eggs Benedict to bagels and lox.
The coffee at Chicha is very tasty. It comes from Nømad, origin coffee roasted in Barcelona.
So, what does seem certain is that the word brunch first appeared in print in an article from the 1895 Hunter’s Weekly. In Brunch: A Plea, British author Guy Beringer suggested an alternative to the heavy, post-church Sunday meals in favor of lighter fare served late in the morning.
‘Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting,’ Beringer says. ‘It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.’
But wherever the initial spark of genius came from, the tradition definitely seems to have caught on in the United States in the 1930s, supposedly because Hollywood stars making transcontinental train trips frequently stopped off in Chicago to enjoy a late morning meal. On Sundays, actors like John Barrymore, Helen Hayes and Clark Gable stopped to brunch at the famed Pump Room at the Ambassador Hotel, as it was a meal championed by hotels since most restaurants were closed on Sundays.
The Pumpernikel Brunch of Chicha Limoná: avocado, salmon, poached eggs and Bearnaise sauce over German style bread toast with Fennel, Bulgur and Seeds. € 7,5
Brunch in the 1920s was a meal for the upscale crowd, a crowd who could get away with day-drinking with gusto, not to mention blatant disregard of Prohibition. Cookbooks of the 1930s recommended a brunch hostess make alcohol available for her male guests, but avoid imbibing herself, suggesting recipes for mocktails like tomato and clam juice. It wasn’t until the early 1950s that day-drinking’s stigma diminished within the middle class, with post-World War II families now possibly including working women who were looking for a weekend respite from the work week. The Bloody Mary cocktail, which may or may not have been named for Mary, Queen of Scots, was invented in France, but spiced up for American tastes at New York City’s King Cole Bar. The Bloody Mary was a likely choice for a brunch drink, due to its “hair of the dog” status as a hangover remedy, and its similarity to the non-alcoholic tomato juice cocktails that were both widely served as appetizers in restaurants, and renowned as healthful elixirs.
Chicha Limoná Cheesecake with a very generous fruit topping, € 4
Sunday brunch became increasingly popular after World War II. Church attendance had dropped significantly in the post-war years, and folks were looking for something to do with the time that previously would have been spent in the pews. Sunday mornings and afternoons became a time to relax, spend time with friends and maybe have a mimosa or two. And the advent of convenience foods during this period only helped brunch dominate the Sunday table. Frozen orange juice, boxed cake mixes and even powdered Hollandaise sauce were all used to create brunch with a minimum of fuss and muss. “Sunday dinner became important because it was the only time people could eat together as a family unit during the week at the onset of urbanization and industrialization, 150 years ago” according to Stanford University professor Carl Degler in a 1980 Chicago Tribune article on the rise of America’s brunch culture. He also pointed to another social change that might be responsible for why Sunday brunch became so popular here. “After World War II, large numbers of American married women entered the workforce for the first time. Married women needed a relief on Sunday, too, thus the rise in popularity of Sunday brunch eaten out.”
2 or 3 Things About
The place opened in the spring of 2015 and is, due to the shape of the space, divided into two spaces, Chicha – the place to try vermouth brands coming from different bodegas, wines and biodynamic wines, beer and craft beer, together with tapas de autor, as well as original mixes, while Limoná is more of a café with a glass enclosed kitchen for artesan pizzas, plates with ecological eggs and veggies, coffee from Nømad, natural smoothies or homemade desserts, pastry and bread.
And 2 or 3 Stops on
Passeig de Sant Joan
The avenue is one of the most beautiful, long, large and green streets of the center. It connects two nice areas of metropolitan Barcelona, el Born and Vila de Gràcia, and it seems to become a hot spot with interesting bars, cafes and bistros, as well as shops. Also, the area has been redesigned (2014) in matters of green areas.
Passeig de Sant Joan starts from Arc de triomf, crosses Gran Via and Diagonal and goes up to Vila de Gràcia. Pretty close to the Triumph Arch there’s Casa Enric Laplana, built in 1907 – 1909, in a very particular Modernist style (architect Bernardí Martorell i Puig).
Right in Plaça Verdaguer, where Sant Joan crosses Diagonal, there’s a nice, historical, advertising sign. And close to it, one of the most interesting urban palaces of Barcelona, Palau Macaya, that can be visited for free.
In cities like New York or London, the neon signs are part of the urban identity, while in Baarcelona most of them were removed subsequent to a city hall decision. The Owl, still, remained. It was installed in the 1960s to advertise Rotulos Roura, a brand dedicated to advertising. Its huge eyes (one of them blinks, from time to time) were part of the urban landscape until the 90s, when the city hall decided to reduce the night lights in the city so the owl stayed with the eyes shut for a while. People liked it and, as it was the case of Tio Pepe in Madrid, the sign came back to life. Meanwhile, the advertisign company had clients such as BP, Campsa, Repsol, La Caixa, Deutsche Bank, BBVA, Mercedes, Audi, Seat, Orange, Renfe, Telefonica, Vodafone or Correos.
Palau Macaya was designed by architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch in 1901. It has a distinguished white facade with ocher ornaments. Two important sculptors of the time, Eusebi Arnau and Alfons Juyol, worked the decoration, including the entrance arch that features a relief of a bicyclist – it is an homage to the architect who used to ride a bike through the city. Also, artist Joan Paradís designed the sgraffito.
Another Brunch Idea to Check on Passeig de Sant Joan | Casa Bonay