A while back over at Five Lovely Things, I wrote about some glorious French-style nougats I happened upon on Etsy from a little company called Have It Sweet. Well, this evening, a whole great box of them – three kinds – were waiting for me at the post. Pistachio, hazelnut and almond, to be precise, carefully wrapped in parchment, tied with butterscotch-pudding ribbon, tucked in tissue for safe keeping.
To this I say: my best friend is the most wonderful person in the universe and ohmygoodness you need to order this nougat for yourself. Immediately. Toothsome and chewy, not painfully hard, delicately floral, just sweet enough, almost airy, and brimming with fresh nuts, it’s the best nougat I’ve ever had. (And I’ve eaten a lot of nougat in my days – French, Greek, Lebanese, Italian – I’m well-versed in pillowy nut-studded candy.)
Thankfully, a box of nougat this heavy should last a very long time.
Barcelona: resplendent with dust and wrought-iron verandas and hills meeting sea.
I’ve returned from a deeply restorative vacation, taken by the way the Spanish live. Slowly and meandering and with frequent stops for (excellent!) espresso and siesta. The cliché of “European time” is very much alive in this old city, where they rise late and dine late and sleep even later.
A thought on the city’s storied Gaudi presence: it’s haunting and more ephemeral than the majority of Barcelona photographs lead one to believe. He’s there, sure – in the befuddlingly spectacular Sagrada Familia and intricately tiled Parc Güell - but Gaudi’s work is less omnipresent than I imagined, and I like that. There’s so much more to the city, tucked in nooks and alleyways that offer perfect Catalan meals and sticky figs and wailing guitar.
And of course, time spent with a dear friend (who is otherwise much too far away) made it a special getaway. “Sad stuff” and impromptu swing-set photoshoots. Sea-swept glasses and a guy named Luis. Gelato, cheese (too much cheese), ad hoc tea parties, crazy business schemes. Even with Kenyans between us, thanks.
Barcelona: I still despise sangria and prefer my dinner before the clock strikes twelve and am curious about your lack of proper bakeries. But - your markets and pillars and abundant anchovies and prehistoric succulent-jungles and coconut-pistachio ice-cream - and mostly your gentle reminder to slow down – more than make up for these tiny indiscretions.