04 Jun2006


This was simply the best cup of hot chocolate I have ever had in my entire life! I rarely use the “best I have ever had” description because I fear I have seen escriba2and tasted so little, so far, but this was definitely a SUPERB hot chocolate. Imagine for a moment, walking around Barcelona sightseeing for about 2 hours, you are starting to get tired, you need a rest and a shot of sugar. It is a brisk day, about 50 degrees with a breeze. My food radar suggests one of the “must visit” patisseries is within a few minutes walk…so we head over to Escriba, a nearly 100 year old temple to pastry that was started in the early 1900’s by a former coal worker. His descendants still run the place and the original location on the Ramblas has a spectacular façade of mosaic tiles and ornate lines. One look in the window and we knew we had found our pit stop…

We looked around inside and suddenly realized this may not be so easy to get into…even mid-afternoon the internal tables were all taken. escriba3We perused the pastries instead and loitered for a moment hoping a table would come free. However, outside, there were about 5 tables on a side street and I was lucky enough to grab one while my wife and daughter were still checking out the pastries. After settling down, we realized we were still quite full but we all spied cups of hot chocolate emerging for other patrons so we ordered 3 cups. A few minutes later the hot chocolate arrived. It must have been the thickest cup of hot chocolate I have ever had. You could almost cut it with a knife. It was so thick I drank (or ate?) my hot chocolate with a teaspoon. It had an intense aroma, was incredibly chocolatey and creamy, but not overly sweet.

Now I completely understand why dipping churros or broas for that matter in hot chocolate would be such a treat. escriba4Forget the watery versions found in Manila, this is the basis for “the take a crisp buttery or fatty biscuit and dip it into and coat it with hot chocolate” scenario. Every spoonful had the three of us looking at each other in awe…we unanimously thought this was simply the best we had ever tasted. It was closer to drinking chocolate fondue than not. There was so much chocolate in these cups that you can see in the photo how the top of the hot chocolate would form a darker crust as it cooled and oxidized…you broke through this crust with your teaspoon each time you scooped out more to drink!

At 2.90 Euro a cup, this was one of the best food bargains/values we encountered. escriba5We were definitely coming back to have some more. A few days later, we returned on a much sunnier and warmer day. We got the same table and ordered some more hot chocolate and my daughter picked out a strawberry tart. The hot chocolate seemed a bit thinner this time around, but not much. It was still superb but somehow the first time seemed more memorable…we noticed that the waiter himself mixed the hot chocolate and he added the cream into the pot that was used to mix it in…perhaps the lack of precise measurement was the reason for the slightly different consistency of the hot chocolate on the two different days.

At any rate, the chocolate was our main focus but the store also had SPECTACULAR looking desserts. escriba6Our strawberry tart was filled with a nice pastry cream and topped with juicy, sweet and seasonal strawberries and decorated with a few fresh red currants. At 6 Euro it was pricey but good. They had other incredibly interesting looking desserts on offer and some of the smaller cakes ran Euro 20-40. Also interesting was their whimsical waxed paper which they used to wrap the pastries and the incredibly beautiful boxes and ribbons used to pack the cakes and tarts. Less than 100 meters or so down the Ramblas from the main entrance of La Boqueria, you must visit Escriba if you are ever in Barcelona.

9. IN



  1. Chris says:

    MM, this reminds me of the hot chocolate at the Paris Ritz. It was so thick and rich it solidifed into ganache before I could finish off the last few drops! It had flecks of freshly cracked black pepper which made it taste even better. I don’t know how the black pepper makes it better or why, but it does. Try it sometime.

    Jun 4, 2006 | 11:54 pm

  2. Marketman says:

    Chris, I understand a touch of good salt also enhances the taste of fine chocolate… and yes, solidifying into ganache is a good way to describe it. Do you have any idea how they made it??? I would love to re-create this at home if possible…

    Jun 5, 2006 | 6:34 am

  3. Apicio says:

    Back in the days when Manileños referred to that Ermita street as Eme Hache de Pilar, they served churros to be dunked in thick hot chocolate in the dark tea-room of La Cibele. I do not know if the place has survived either in the original or in a new location. Traditionally, the hot chocolate should be thick enough to be able to coat a spoon so thickening the brew with starch (although heretical sounding) is a high possibility.

    Jun 5, 2006 | 7:56 am

  4. mgr says:

    Definitely a must eat in Barcelona. It’s pastries and chocolate are legendary of the bygone era. I can just drool and relive past trips….
    Recipe tip:Use chopped semisweet chocolate and hot milk. Mix until chocolate melts and enjoy!

    Jun 5, 2006 | 10:58 am

  5. lee says:

    wow. i’m so enraged with the thought that nothing i can find here will compare with that cup you had.

    Jun 5, 2006 | 11:45 am

  6. Chris says:

    Yup, I have the recipe from the cooking school :) I’ll scan and e-mail it to you. enjoy!

    Jun 6, 2006 | 12:37 am

  7. renee says:

    hi lee
    i know it won’t compare to what these guys are talking about but maybe you can try the hot chocolate in cafe xocolat in eastwood =) Its thicker than most and my sister (she’s had the same drink in barcelona) said its pretty good =)

    I think historically the aztecs did drink the hot chocolate with chili =) I read that somewhere because an australian client of ours was kind enough to send me some Choco-chili fling timtams! I thought the combination was weird so I looked it up, then tried it and the dark chocolate with a hint of heat after you swallow is to die for …..ahhhh i’d go to australia just to buy those if I could :-p

    Jun 6, 2006 | 1:01 am

  8. Marketman says:

    lee, I will try the recipe of Chris and will let you know…renee I think Lori over at http://dessertcomesfirst.blogspot.com/2005/08/caf-xocolat.html has written up xocolat with a glowing review…and yes, I can see chocolate with chilli being good…

    Jun 6, 2006 | 5:53 am

  9. MGR says:

    For hot cocoa with chili. Just add some cayenne pepper powder to the melted chocolate/milk base and enjoy. Jacques Torres sells this “spicy” hot chocolate in his shop in NY called ‘wicked”. Check out: http://www.mrchocolate.com.

    Jun 6, 2006 | 7:15 am

  10. Katrina says:

    Xocolat has a hot choco with chili, and so does Max Brenner (I prefer the former). Bizu used to have a macaron named Fire which was a choco-chili flavor (there was also Earth — rosemary, and Wind — choco-mint). It was wonderful! First you encounter the crispness and sweetness of the merengue, then the creamy chocolate filling, then ZING! you feel the chili go down your throat.

    Jun 6, 2006 | 7:52 pm

  11. sister says:

    Hi, La Cibele was where Mom took me went to have hot chocolate and churros when I was a child. It was a secret trip, just like our trips to have halo-halo beneath the tulay in Quiapo. Thanks, Apicio, for mentioning the name, I’ve been trying to remember for years, I just knew it was del Pilar in Ermita.

    Jun 7, 2006 | 6:41 am

  12. gonzo says:

    wasn’t it called La Cibeles with an ‘s’? That was a great little place. shame it’s gone now.

    been reading all your Barcelona posts, MM, and i’m starting to really get itchy feet. will make a trip in Sept, can’t wait.

    Jun 7, 2006 | 7:13 am

  13. Mila says:

    La Cibeles was a Manila secret, their lengua de gato truly melted in your mouth, with the perfect thinness and butteriness. Pity the family is no longer in Manila.
    Xocolat’s hot chocolate is pretty thick (I like their chocolate-peanut butter shake). Sometimes the churros con chocolate at Dulcinea can be a hit or miss proposition. But it’s cheap and satisfying.

    Jun 13, 2006 | 11:12 am

  14. Marketman says:

    STOP EVERYTHING! The Kid had a hot chocolate at Galileo Enoteca the other day and it was pretty thick and pretty GOOD! So those who have a hankering…you now know where to go in addition to Xocolat and other places mentioned above!

    Jun 13, 2006 | 11:46 am

  15. chrissy says:

    Cafe Xocolat’s Taza de Xocolat is sinfully gooood! Although their churros is way too oily (Dulcinea’s is still better).
    Thanks for the tip MM, more reason to invite friends to Galileo Enoteca.

    Jun 15, 2006 | 4:38 pm

  16. Jade186 says:

    I tried this hot chocolate just about a week ago in Barcelona! It was definitely good; however, I seem to prefer Demels of Vienna. Even the pastries did not really entice me. I had the same strawberry tart, nothing really special about it, and is rather common in any konditorei in Austria, except that the taste is better.

    Jul 4, 2007 | 12:13 am

  17. sofika7 says:

    Does anyone know if Escriba export their chocolates to Australia??

    Sep 8, 2009 | 12:39 pm


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