I am in love with the shops opening up at this end of town, on the wrong side of the Arc de Triomf, up above the Estació del Nord. Once it was only Chinese shops (a pleasure for me) but most recently some wonderful independent shops have been opening.
Like Colmado Casa Buendia, a gorgeous grocer’s specialising in all things Catalan and Spanish.
“What did you do before this?” I ask Susana, the shop owner.
“Oh – not this!” she replies.
That is clear enough, beautiful shops in which the value is customer orientated are rarely the offspring of someone who has been jaded by the industry.
“I worked in marketing, for a ski company – it was work. This is different, something I love. I did this because I thought if I don’t do it now I never will.”
In Barcelona, your local supermarket is likely to stock wonderful products that you would have had to visit a specialist grocer to obtain at home. Oritz tuna sits nonchalantly next to supermarket own brand conserves. I want to scoop them all up and take them away to a more appropriate setting, not rubbing labels with the riff raff. At Buendia, Susanna has found products and brands that show up even my beloved Oritz. Like Catrineta conserves (possibly the most beautifully packaged sardines I have ever seen?).
There are canned Martinete tomatoes from Extremadura, who prefer to use organic varnish instead of the synthetic one common in the industry. Pretty Vermut bottles displayed on a table with bespoke plates made by Chichinabo. (Click on the link, you want these plates!). In the open fridge at the back: sausages, cheeses, yogurt – all local, all with a story.
The care she has taken in sourcing these products, in celebrating the best and most beautiful that Spain has to offer is delightful. It makes me thing fondly of my days at Melrose and Morgan, where everything we sold was a triumph of some small holding or artisan producer. Susana has curated a wonderful shop at Colmado Casa Buendia. I urge you to visit it and see for yourself.
Colmado Casa Buendia
Specialty Food Shop
C/ Roger de Flor, 139