The Escribà bakery in Barcelona is easy to miss, from the outside at least. This family-run Catalan bakery and choclatier’s main store, on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, has a tasteful window display of proper (if a little kooky) birthday cakes, with glimpses of a quiet tea room beyond: a very different image from that cultivated by the company’s eponymous head, Christian Escribà, who has found fame over recent years conjuring up such delights as (yes, really) the exploding birthday cake and edible delights from hats to shoes. Chocolate CDs, chocolate backstage passes and chocolate blackboards for the more didactic of sweet lovers, as well as the centrepieces for big events (our personal favourite being the 6m high penguin cake made for Port Aventura). It’s all quite Willy Wonka.
Back on Gran Via though, things are a marginally more ordinary. The 107 year old store offers a mixture of fancy cakes (including some ridiculously good looking ice cream cakes), artisan chocolates and sweet fripperies including bouquets of sugar flowers and other chocolate knick-knacks. Staff are more than happy to advise you on their products and help if you want to order something a bit more eccentric. While you are there, the Escribà cafe is a good place (somehow often quiet) to have a quick coffee (from €1.30) or try the range of souped-up hot chocolates on offer (including 70% cocoa, Swiss and praline, from €3.30). There is also a small selection of alcoholic drinks (wine from €3.15) and simple meals and snacks. Wifi is free and works well.
We decided to pick up some of the fancy creations for dinner at a friend’s house: four two-person sized cakes will cost you about €20, but feed more than you expect. We chose a Sacher tort (complete with a caramel-filled pipette as garnish), a strawberry-lemon ‘dome’ cheesecake, a chocolate and cream layered confection, and a fantastic flouncy white chocolate tart.
Escribà also has a smaller store on the Ramblas with a beautiful art nouveau shopfront, and offer courses at the Escribà Academy. These don’t come cheap, but some of the world’s best pastry chefs are on the teaching staff, and you will learn skills from the masters including Christian Escribà himself, and his wife pastry chef Patricia Schmidt. A one-day course in chocolate shoemaking will set you back about €120 while classes for children (think cakepops and iced biscuits) cost about €45.
Escriba Gran Via
Address: Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 546, 08011 Barcelona
Tel: 0034 93 454 75 35
Address: Rambla de les Flors, 83, 08001 Barcelona
Tel: 0034 93 301 60 27