Think of days past when there were still ice cream parlors. Okay, that’s not so hard if you’ve been to Fenton’s in Oakland. But, if you haven’t, just imagine this. Now, imagine the absolute best hot chocolate you’ve ever had. No, that crap from Nestle Quik with the bunny on cocaine for a mascot does not count. Think about it. Think about a deep, dark chocolate that isn’t so sweet as to kill a diabetic, but isn’t bitter and is just luscious flavor. Now dump a slab of whipped cream on top of that, sit down, and you’ll experience what folks in Spain know as the granja.
Basically, these started out as farms that would serve their dairy products out in the country as ‘granja’ means ‘farm’. Gradually, these entities evolved and came in to the cities to the point now where they represent what Americans know more as a neighborhood ice cream parlors (a proper one with floats and splits, not Baskin-Robbins) and less what people think of as a farm. While they’re rather old fashioned and naturally, like everything good in the unincorporated version of the world, slowly dying out in the 21st century. But still, they are quite common and you can find them most anywhere in Spain.
I love popping in to the granjas on Pretrixol when in Barcelona as while the ambiance is nothing short of a cafeteria for hot chocolate, they serve up damned delicious hot chocolate. Oh and you better get that with a side of hot churros (xurros in Catalan) or it won’t be fully authentic. When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing better and watching the guy behind the counter slam out one liberally slathered chocolate with whipped cream after another is as hypnotizing as the guys slamming out tacos in Tijuana. You are now allowed to hate me a little while I spend my last week in Spain for the holidays.