A talented cousin…

My cousin Otavia started decorating cakes when still in her teens. She enjoyed doing really complicated designs that took days to finish and as she grew older she started decorating cakes for family and friends. That was her hobby. As a profession she got a law degree and started working as a lawyer in a family law firm but her heart was not in it. I always thought she should devote herself to her cake decorating business and I’ve now heard that’s the way she has decided to go. She’s only 27 and I’m sure she’ll be quite successful!

She has recently started a blog dedicated to her cake decorating, click here to see it. Here are some of her recent creations:

wedding

Gift box

Maltese dogs

The cake above was done for the birthday party of a two-year old girl who loves her Maltese dogs. Notice how the candles were incorporated into the design.

Patchwork

This one was done for the birthday of someone who was into crafts, particularly patchwork. It’s one of my favourites!

Isn’t she amazing? I’m very proud of my little cousin…

The birth of a research assistant

I had been planning to go to Girona to collect some documentation for a long time now but couldn’t figure out the best time to go. As usual, the decision was made for me when I found out that a famous Spanish historian would be giving a public lecture in Girona on Thursday night. Perfect, I thought. We’ll go to Girona, I can do research during the day while Alan wanders around, catch the lecture at night and we could spend the night. With that in mind we set out on Thursday morning.

I found a very nice two-star Pensión near the cathedral. Pensión Bellmirall is in a 14th-century house on a nice side street. We were very pleased with our room:

Room 2 at Bellmirall

After checking in, we set out to the Archivo Diocesano de Girona, where I had to collect some documents. Alan didn’t really feel like wandering the sights on his own so he volunteered to take pictures of the documents I needed. Since this was the first time he handled 14th-century documents, he was in constant awe. I’m always telling him about the neat books and documents I see people working with at the archives here in Barcelona and he was pleased to have the opportunity to handle some of these himself.

Register of Letters from the bishop Opening the books

This one still had its original cover:

Pink cover for an account book

Every once in a while we would find little drafts and notes stuck inside the books:

notes

I was very pleased at the two archives I needed to visit. The people at both the Archivo Diocesano and the municipal archives were very friendly and nice. There was no red tape to speak of – no one demanded an introduction, reference letters and the like – and I was allowed to bring anything in the room. Very low profile. Both archives are also up to date with their use of technology and are working hard to digitize their documents.

After the work at the archives was done, we went out for lunch and took the afternoon off to explore the city a bit. The old town of Girona is beautiful and considered one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. The city is also considered the best place to live in Spain. We had been there before and you can see some pictures here and here.

I really enjoyed our time there, maybe I’ll make the Jewish community of Girona my second project… That way we could spend a year there ;)

Despite feeling guilty for abandoning my main research here in Barcelona for a few days, the trip was successful and we can home with a few hundred pictures of documents that I can use for my thesis… And Alan has been named my official research assistant ;) Go here for Alan’s take on his new job. Now, if only I could teach him paleaography….

Amazing food in Girona

Of course, after all that researching we needed to eat! I was determined to have a good eating experience and after a bit of research, I decided to have lunch at Mimolet, a new restaurant about a block away from the cathedral in a tiny side street. Call it gourmet Catalan at its best. It’s not cheap but for a restaurant of its class I didn’t find it terribly expensive either. A three-course lunch menu is 14.75 euros (at night an 8-course degustation menu runs at 40 euros, which is not bad at all). The meal was well worth it. We set right beside the cheese counter and all my efforts to live dairy-free went up in smoke and I had the five cheese taster for a first course. All I can tell you is wow, it was great.

How could I resist all those wonderfully smelly cheese??

Cheese at Mimolet

As a main course I had grilled dorade, a tasty white fish from the Mediterranean, served with some nice grilled vegetables. The fish was done to perfection – cooked only until it reached opacity. Alan had Arroz con sepia, which is a rice cooked with a kind of calamari. We both had coconut sorbet with ginger as dessert, served rolled in a nice bit of crepe. I liked the meal so much that I would love to go back one day to have the tasting menu…

At night we went to the Creperie Bretonne for some highly-recommened crepes. Although the crepes were all perfectly done and I discovered a new-found love for dessert crepes, which were never my thing, the neat thing about this place was the decor. They had a bus – that’s right, a bus – inside the restaurant! The bus was hollowed out and the waiters used it as the salad counter:

Bus Bus 2

All in all, a very successful eating holiday ;)

Mimolet is on C/Pou Rodó, 12 tel 972 20 21 24

Creperie Bretonne is C/ Cort Reial, 14 tel. 972 218 120

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Update: There’s a Creperie Bretonne in Barcelona as well! It’s located under the big golden fish at the Passeig Maritim. And this one also has a bus inside:

Creperie Barcelona

Photo from Creperie Bretonne’s website.