This time of year is all about the simple things: cooking, talking, giving. So we thought we'd share our festivities with you.
The sweet smell of cinnamon mingles with the sound of light jazz. Outside a church bell chimes. There’s laughter and stories, cookies and mixing bowls. Where else could we be but Casa Filomena? Tucked away in a quiet corner of our own neighbourhood, Filomena is the smallest hotel in Barcelona. It is owned by Patricia, one of the most welcoming hosts we’ve ever met. Importantly, she loves to cook!
This year, we really wanted to prepare a homemade Christmas feast for the TWOTHIRDS family. There was no question about the perfect place to make that happen, with the chance to meet our neighbour and brush up on baking skills proving too much to resist. We’ll share with you some of the recipes we tried out at the end of this post, in the hope that they inspire you, too.
"Cooking for Christmas brings everyone together."
First on the list was cinnamon rolls. This tasty treat may seem complex to prepare, but we found that it’s perfect to make together and can be simplified for ease. Patricia set the milk to a scald - not quite boiling - so that Lutz and Loreto could get started on the dough and filling. The dough needs to rest for an hour, giving us more time to get to know Patricia and sneak a peek at the house itself.
After ascending a flight of wooden stairs, we saw two thoughtfully prepared rooms. A little olive tree frames one window view, while the whole space feels calm and considered. This befits a guesthouse designed around principles of conscious tourism. Everything is sourced locally - from the ingredients for the kitchen, to the botanical cosmetics for the bathrooms. In the case of the latter, she shops at independently owned RefillZero, which is within walking distance. We loved that she cuts out plastic by using refills.
Patricia's green approach even extends to the electricity bill. She opted for a green supplier and has encouraged the owner of the building to install solar panels. It’s clear that Casa Filomena shares many of TWOTHIRDS’ values. We’d say that it’s a sustainable and slower choice for travellers looking to discover an authentic side to Barcelona. Our shared neighbourhood, Sarrià, feels like a rural town within a very urban city. It has a fresh produce market (steps away from Casa Filomena) and a family-friendly feeling. Patricia spoke of the smoking chimney tops and weekly vintage fairs.
“Food is for joy and to nurture yourself. To combine both is the way.”
She then explained that Casa Filomena is the realisation of a dream. The small business allows her to combine her knowledge and training as a cook with her love for hosting. “It is everything” she smiles, “it is the music, it is the food, good wine, creating an atmosphere. A mix of all my passions.” Her approach to cuisine fuses pleasure with purpose: “food is for joy and to nurture yourself, so to combine both is the way.”
With this philosophy in mind, we returned to the kitchen, and set about preparing the rest of the meal. This ranged from colourful hummus to a nourishing fruit and nut loaf. Once everything was fully baked, blended or sliced, we boxed it up and walked back to the office - where our team were on hand for (improvised) carolling, accompanied by Emil and Kike on the ukele and guitar! Stay tuned for the next festive chapter.
Recipes from Casa Filomena
For the dough
250 ml of warm milk
7 grams of baking powder
100 grams of sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
630 grams of flour
For the filling
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup of brown sugar
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
For the glaze
200 grams of icing sugar
1 egg white
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Mix the yeast with the milk and let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix the eggs, sugar, salt, butter, and add the milk and yeast mixture.
- Add the flour slowly, until you get a homogeneous dough.
- Knead for about 5 minutes, form a ball, leave in a container greased with oil, cover and rest for 1 hour or until doubled its volume.
- Mix the cinnamon and brown sugar and set aside.
- Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 40 x 30 cm. Spread the butter on top, and the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture. Roll up the dough and cut 12 portions.
- Place them on a baking sheet and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Bake at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Beat the ingredients until smooth.
After baking, decorate with the glaze.
Beetroot hummus with raw vegetables
400g of cooked chickpeas
1⁄2 clove of garlic
50-60ml of water
25ml lemon juice
50-70g of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 teaspoon Tahini sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 cooked beetroot
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch of sweet paprika
Sesame seeds, roasted pumpkin seeds
- Blend the cooked beetroot with a teaspoon of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Reserve.
- Put all the other ingredients in a container and blend.
- Serve the chickpea hummus on a plate and mix the beetroot puree with a tablespoon of Greek yogurt. Then drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with paprika and the seeds, and some green sprouts.
Serve carrot, zucchini, cucumber and/or with roasted pita bread.