Celler de Ronda: Wine, not dine

Xavi serving at Celler de Ronda, Barcelona

Weary of looking for authentic? (Definition: ‘of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine’). Fear not the semantic satiation!

Celler de Ronda bucks the trend of patatas bravas for a fiver and tins of cold seafood (forks supplied!) for more. It embraces modern trends with a cordial wink to the great and authentic Spanish/Catalan off licences of old.

“We sell more vino granel (cheap wine from a barrel) than anything else,” explained owner Xavi.

“It’s less than two euros for a half litre and perfect table wine.”

Port, cooking, sweet wine and more at Celler de Ronda, Barcelona

Propping it up

Xavi and his partner Dilcia have become a pillar of community during the establishment’s six-year existence.

Castellers – the Catalan tradition of human tower building – takes up Xavi’s spare time. He acts as a pillar (pinya) at the bottom of Castellers for Jove de Barcelona, supporting those that wobble. Insert something clever about wine and wobbles here.

Occasionally the family pet, Laya, will yap hi; she usually stays on her blanket at the back of the shop and bark at you once (tail wagging).

Laya, protector, Celler de Ronda, Barcelona

Getting the right wine

It’s Xavi’s palate and search for new tastes that marks the Celler out. Xavi tries every single wine that he sells, having learned his trade at El Celler de la Boqueria.

Weekends see more sales of bottles. “I know every wine and so if you tell me what you are looking for, I can make suggestions,” says Xavi.

“Some people just say they like wine, some people really want to know about the grapes, others want to know which red wine could go well with fish.

Owner's recommendation, Celler de Ronda, Barcelona

“We look for the small producers and not the mass suppliers. We may not have lots of one type of wine, but we have a few cases of a lot of different types, something for everyone.” His favourite tipple at the moment is from the Mas Rodó vineyards.

We often shop at Mercado San Antoni on Saturday mornings then head to the Celler de Ronda and have a bottle matched to our food for us.

Xavi continued: “I prefer to call this a Tienda de Vino (wine shop), rather than your classic bodega. It’s not about selling the most expensive bottle, or offering vermut or snacks, but about getting the right wine to the right person.”

Wine growing regions

Celler de Ronda covers Spain’s main wine regions: Cataluña, Rioja, Penedes Ribera del Duero and more. Priorat is my favourite.

Various wines to choose from, Celler de Ronda, Barcelona

There are also artisanal beers, IPA, brandy, licor de café – careful with this mix of strong alcohol and coffee – and more. My Christmas cake is soaked in brandy from Celler de Ronda.

Cava is a staple of Catalan life and don’t be surprised to be saying ‘chin chin’ with a glass at any hour; breakfast, lunch, dinner, all good. Celler de Ronda has its own eponymous Cava, a Brut Nature Joven (young); “Mas fresco,” explains Xavi.

More my style are the ciders – the Basque is more acidic than the sweeter Asturian drop – yet they lack the punch of some of the chewy West Country squeal of Gloucestershire.

Hair of the dog

Famous Vichy Catalan sparking water is the second best seller, and at €1.10 a bottle with 15 cents on return of the bottle, it’s easy to see why.

My partner, the Plek, is a fan of Vichy for the-day-after-the-night-before. Plek said: “Bodegas used to sell drinks like Vichy, so he’s keeping the traditions going.

“It’s environmentally friendly, cheap – and the bubbles are good for you.”

Wine bottle corks, Celler de Ronda, Barcelona

Drop in for a drop 

Xavi speaks some English and can help visitors find a fine wine, and mainly trades with locals.

“My dad used to bring wine home to drink and many years ago I would just be like most people, drinking wine and not knowing much about it. But at the Boqueria I learned and now I can tell just by looking at a wine, its colour its look, if I will like it, without even sniffing it.”

Opening hours

Mon-Sat: 0900-1430 / 1630-2100

Sunday: 11.30-14.30

Celler de Ronda, Ronda Sant Pau 77, Tel: 931 923 814

Instagram: Celler de Ronda

Bar Nostalgic: staying the same in a world of change

Bar Nostalgic bar from outside, Barcelona

“Mum was busy making croquetas in the pub’s kitchen when her waters broke. That was my start in bars.”

Hipster brands like BrewDog are clever and imaginative but lack a little authenticity. I prefer the visceral essence of a local bar, for local people talking local stuff. 

San Antoni resident and Bar Nostalgic pub owner Toni Varon is the croqueta kid. He has run the hostelry on Carrer Vildomat for the last nine years.

 

The way it was

“I was literally born into the bar industry,” he said. “My family has a bodega in Sitges. The folks still run it and it looks the same. Then this place came up – it used to be a video games’ shop – and I wanted to make something that reminded my of the family business, which is still pretty much the same as when I was born. 

“It was that nostalgia that gave me the idea for the name Bar Nostalgic. The sandwiches are named after streets around here, to give it a connection. It’s people from the barrio that drink here, I’ve got mainly regulars,”  he explained. 

Bar Nostalgic sandwich menu, street names

 

What’s on offer

There is a range of tasty food, ranging from tapas to sandwiches to hot and cold aperitivos. For any expectant mums needing a final push into labour, there are a range of croquetas, too. 

It’s as a barman that Toni excels. 

“I love making cocktails, that’s my favourite part of the job. Ron Collins, Negronis, Dry Martini. The Brits love one called La Boomba – chocolate and brandy”. 

I’ve never heard of La Boomba and La Bomba is another drink. Still, a little bit of individualism goes along way among the pumps and optics of the same worldwide brands.

Toni Varon and wine

But wait! What’s this? They say never trust a barman that doesn’t drink and Toni doesn’t touch booze. “I have in the past, I’ve done all the parties and so I know people come here to relax.” 

So relaxed that on occasion I head to Nostalgic to cover unpaid bar tabs of my partner, The Plek. 

Nostalgic always seems to be open and Toni remembers everyone’s name and poison. He also answers to anything that ends in ‘i’ (pronounced as ‘e’ in English); among our friends he’s been Dani, Toni, Chavi and occasionally Pepe.

In Spain, it’s useful to be loud and boisterous if you want to get served at a bar. In most pubs, I am Mr Invisible and struggle to get a round in – the old eyebrow raise cuts no beef here – but Toni’s always anticipates his customer’s needs.

 

Take a look around

Inside Nostalgic is best described as shabby chic. The tables are as narrow as the minds of the puritanical and don’t take your cat in for a swing in the toilet. In summer the small terrace is the perfect place to look for some gentle breezes with your ice-cold drink.

Beer pump in Bar Nostalgic, San AntoniThere’s also cava, craft beers and an unexpectedly broad wine list, assuming you didn’t know you were in the company of a barman brought up in a bodega.

So it seems our local, Bar Nostalgic, is winning the game by staying the same. “We could do with a few more tourists popping in,” Toni says, “but we live for the locals, really.”

 

Bar Nostalgic, Vildomat 38

Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu:   12-3 / 6-12

Fri: 12-3 / 6-1.30am

Sat: 12-2am

Sun: 12-12

Bar Nostalgic business card