If you walk down C/ Calatrava in the Barrio del Carmen, look for a tiny door that leads to Picnicity – blink and you’ll miss it. Inside is a narrow bar filled with a delicious variety of empanadas, salads and a large selection of great looking (and tasting) cakes. ‘Picnicity’ is the brainchild of an Argentinian/Chilean family, consisting of mother and father and two sons.
The idea is very simple, picnic-style food to eat in or to take away. The decor is white, bright and clean, with nice little details and very pleasant, hand-drawn graphics and type on blackboards. At the back there are a couple of small tables and chairs, and a long picnic bench, sitting on AstroTurf, set against a bare brick wall with brightly-lit individual cards spelling out the bar’s name.
This is where D and I sat. We had been greeted by the mother (Solé) and the sons as we walked in.
Facundo showed us to the bench and offered us beer or wine. We both chose wine – a very palatable house Alcorta Rioja Crianza 2012 sold by the glass at 2€ or the bottle at 20€. He told us a little about the restaurant and suggested we had a degustacíon of the speciality of both Argentina and the house, empanadas (think little Cornish pasties, little pastries with savoury & sometimes sweet fillings). We thought that was a great idea, and he went off to warm some up for us (in a small oven, we noted, NOT a microwave). He returned with a tray bearing a long wooden board with six different types (and shapes) of empanada.
The flavours were as follows (all are 1.75€ each):
Fugazutta: Onion and morcilla (morcilla is a black sausage).
Secreto Iberia y manzana: This is a cut of meat from between the shoulder blade and the loin of prized Iberian pigs, chopped and mixed with apple.
Carne: Minced meat and spices.
Caprese: Mozzarella, cherry tomato and basil (our favourite).
Espinaca: Spinach and ricotta cheese.
Maíz: Creamy sweetcorn filling.
All are served piping hot – though we were eating them accompanied by wine, the traditional way in Argentina would be with beer. All were really very tasty, the pastry exceptionally light and the fillings cooked to perfection. Facundo twisted our arms (not too hard!) and insisted we try a new flavour they were experimenting with, Tuna and peppers. Very nice it was, too!
At this point, his mother Solé came over to our table and joined us to talk about Picnicity and the family’s plans for it. They have been open for just four months. Picnicity strives to be different from anything on offer in the Carmen, they are slowly but surely building a great reputation with their empanadas and cakes. Solé explained that everything from the masa (pastry) to the fillings is handmade with care and with an eye to good health. Low-fat ingredients and fresh vegetable and proteins go into their little pasties.
What she didn’t tell us was that she was a well-known singer in Chile in the 1960s and ‘70s and still apparently has a great voice! I have seen some of her performances on YouTube when she went under the name of ‘Marisa’.
She is now it seems more proud of her multinational family and of Picnicity. She was very keen that we try her cakes as she is experimenting and perfecting different recipes –“Try my Sachertorte and my Red Velvet and tell me what you think”. The Red Velvet was a triumph. The Sachertorte was very nice, we told her, and she said she needed to work a little on it – only a little, we assured her. Picnicity deserves to succeed, it’s a great place to pop into for a quick snack in friendly, relaxed surroundings or to pick up something to nibble on whilst you meander round the little streets of El Carmen, or to eat at your desk at work. There was a constant stream of people doing just those things the night we went. And who knows, some day there might be live entertainment from Solé as ‘Marisa’!
C/ Calatrava, 2
Tel: 960 099 900 / 626 574 794
Open Wednesday – Sunday 10.30h – 16.00h, 17.00h – 22.30h Tuesday 18.00h – 22.30h
Brunch (two empanadas, choice of wine or beer, cake for dessert): 5.50€ Salads (including a great looking couscous one): 2.50€
Pizza (slice) and assorted sandwiches (well- lled): from 2.50€
One empanada and caña (small beer): 2.70€
Four empanadas and two cañas: 8.50€ S
ix empanadas and jug of beer: 13.50€