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Update: Pyreneum is sadly no longer open.

Editor’s note: It’s Cool Treats Week at Culinary Backstreets, and for our second installment, we head to Barcelona, where turronerías and ice cream parlors serve up traditional flavors made from locally sourced ingredients.

As you might expect from a city whose weather forecast tends to be sunny, Barcelona has plenty of excellent ice cream options, even as summer fades into fall. And, sure, like most of the world’s food-loving metropolises, this town has its share of internationally loved, Italian-style gelaterias – many even run by real, live Italians. Places like Vioko, DelaCrem, Gelaaati di Marco and Amorino sell gelato that is licked and loved by the most discerning tongues in the city. But if you want a frozen treat with more local flavor, we suggest licking – ahem, looking – beyond the Italian stuff.

Turronerías (also called torronerías) have a Valencian origin and are so called because they dedicate themselves to making artisanal nougat (turrón) in the winter. That leaves summertime for making refreshing and energizing horchata (orxata in Catalan), plus their popular artisanal ice cream and slushes (though you can still get turrón in summer and ice cream in winter). The popular turronerías Planellas Donat, La Campana and La Valenciana offer wonderful ice creams with flavors like Xixona-style Marcona almond nougat and leche merengada (meringue milk). But you’ll probably find even longer lines snaking into the door at Sirvent, in Sant Antoni, and in front of Tío Che, in Poblenou.

Open since 1920 and 1912, respectively, Sirvent and Tío Che are old classics that continue to deliver, but there are (relative) newcomers on the frozen treats scene, too. Bodevici, in Gràcia, is a small chain (there are three shops in Catalonia) that specializes in organic ice cream, frozen yogurt, slushes and cold drinks. The cream they use comes fresh from cows or goats in Extremadura, the westernmost region of Spain. You can customize your flavor selection with many combinations and toppings of various grains or fruit, as well as with traditional temptations like crema catalana (similar to flan) and the bestseller, dark chocolate. All their products are completely natural and certified organic, without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

Not far from Bodevici, in La Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia, you’ll find Pyreneum*, a shop with strong ties to Catalan terroir that offers profoundly flavorful, lusciously rich ice cream. [Editor’s note: We regret to report that Pyreneum has closed.] Pyreneum’s owner, Stephane Orsoni, a Corsican, lives in the Catalan Pyrenees, in the beautiful area of La Cerdanya, which is where many of his ingredients come from. A farming cooperative there produces superb, incredibly fragrant and sweet cream, made from milk that is just half-pasteurized to better retain those aromas. Orsoni also sources cheese, apples, pears, figs, berries, herbs, honey and even olive oil and balsamic vinegar from the mountains.

Of course, all the shops we’ve mentioned offer your more basic flavors in addition to the unusual ones (blue cheese, anyone?). Fortunately, with so many sunny days still ahead, there’s plenty of opportunities to try them all.

This article was originally published on September 24, 2014.

Published on July 21, 2015

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