Déu n’hi do! Lavender’s Blue is a release of pure joy. Visiting a metropolis to explore just one neighbourhood concentrates our minds. A new tourism. We’re on it like a Jane Austen bonnet. Especially when the met is Barcelona; the hood is Eixample; and the local is Lasarte. “Work, strive, feel, listen, talk, taste, observe, thrill, improve, excite, think, imagine, inspire, decorate, reflect, research, work, pamper.” So declares Chef de Cuisine Paolo Casagrande.
Martin’s signature looms large over the restaurant. Literally. It’s scrawled across clerestory height mirrors above the panelling. Paolo combines Martin’s fiery signature dishes with his own fearsome foray into Catalan cuisine, from ginger to jalapeño. He’s got range. Don’t you just love folded linen napkin trays? Synchronised pouring? Cork presenting? A wooden wheelbarrow piled high with special artisanal reminiscential original regional bread? Lasarte is the embodiment of brilliance. The Lasarte Menu is €215 a head. Time to raid the Lazard family vault again. Fotem un café?
Catalan fished stew? Suquet. Petit fours balanced on a candelabra? Candy-labra. Mim cava. Mmm cava. Ah cava. Colm Tóibín records in Homage to Barcelona, “In Barcelona the poets and the professors, the designers and the rest of the generation of 1992 have taken Champagne to their hearts. In Barcelona they call it ‘cava’, and they take it as seriously as they take most things. Codorniu and Freixenet are local brews, for everyday use like wine from a barrel… Drinking cava is an integral part of being a Catalan.”
We’re not leaving this block. Period. Homage to Eixample. Micro travel is all about discovering what’s next door. Imagine our surprise, and dedication to the cause, to discover – in a city that brims with power shopping strips – that Passeig de Gràcia, the strip that easily outstrips all others, is at the foot of the hotel’s marble steps. Colm says it has “a glamour to be found nowhere else in Barcelona, in the faces, the clothes, the hairstyles.” This is no cursory peep behind the faded Iron Curtain. These days we’re all about intense western festoons. After such sweet, salt and umami sensory satisfaction, now’s the time to join the style savvy and go spend the next two generations’ inheritance. Eixample: it’s an extension to our very existence. Salut i força al Canuti!