A Small Sip of Transcendence From a Barcelona Food Truck: Van Van Market 2014

Skye Coffee Co. turned coffee into a canvas for the sublime.

Yesterday we stopped by the Van Van Mercado in Ciutadella Park, an event that’s part of Barcelona’s 2014 La Mercé festival. The finest in the Barcelona food truck scene parked their trucks, vans and trailers amid the trees and hills of Ciutadella.

A mouth-watering mix of aromas spun, swooped and soared through the park’s festive air.

The Skye Coffee Co. truck starting its day (photo from Skye’s Facebook page)

Back to Skye Coffee — it is illegal for food trucks to sell food on the streets of Barcelona. The trucks makes their living at private events or city-approved events like Van Van Mercado.

Skye Coffee Co. is a sterling representation of the artistry and rustic countenance of the Barcelona food truck scene.

Ordering Our Way Into the Sublime

We walked up to the Skye truck’s open window where a barista darted around behind the counter.

A chalkboard menu stood next to the driver’s side door. Cafe con leches, cortados, cakes and a host of other options were scrawled in chalk against the matte black surface.

A trio of cakes sat in the open window. Sat, of course, is the wrong word — they beamed with absolute deliciousness. Nervously we eyed the carrot cake topped with cloud-like white frosting hoping a slice would still be standing when we got to the window. One piece remained when we stepped up to the counter.

We ordered a cafe con leche, and later a slice of the carrot cake. The barista prepared the espresso, grabbed an empty paper cup and let the dark nectar pour.

More Than Coffee: The Chemist-Artist

He then grabbed a jar of milk — straight from the farm, it seemed — and poured some into a small black pitcher. At times he seemed like a chemist, carefully measuring every drop of liquid to ensure that the final product was a marvel of science and art.

Once filled, he put the pitcher under the intense exertion of a steam wand.

That’s when we noticed the silver plaque on the side of the machine — ‘La Marzocco’. We know enough about coffee to understand the significance of this shiny nameplate; La Marzocco is one of the finest espresso machine manufacturers in the world.

Our view of the Skye Coffee Co. Barcelona food truck
The artist at work (photo from Skye’s Facebook page)


Hands of Genius

The milk boiled and frothed. He pulled the pitcher out from under the steam wand, dumped a bit off the top then tapped the pitcher on the counter top. At this precise moment we understood we were witnessing creative truth.

The barista bent over to peer inside the pitcher, no doubt analyzing the consistency of the foam and waiting for the perfect moment at which the milk was at its zenith. Still bent over, he took the pitcher by hand and poured it into the anxious espresso.

We can’t remember which hand he used to pour the milk, but we know that, left or right, his precise, rhythmic movements reminded us of the creative fervor of an orchestra conductor.

White foam mixed with dark brown espresso to form a surreal design of pale waves intertwined with light brown veins, a Dali-esque melting of colors and forms.

Love At First Taste

The taste of the drink was almost irrelevant because the process by which it ended up in our hands was like watching a ballet, a symphony and painter at work all at once.

Our first sip was reserved for the foam — thick and creamy with the nuttiness of the espresso. A full taste of the little masterpiece confirmed our star-struck expectations.  Skye Coffee’s cafe con leche is a small sip of transcendence. The slice of carrot cake was also just as heavenly as the coffee.

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