Word On The Street - Gotic

The Home Dining Revolution
By Claire Sturzaker

Have you tried EatWith yet?  If not, you should!

Touted as ‘Airbnb for the Restaurant Industry’ by Time Magazine; EatWith is the website that brings together a global community of hungry travellers and welcoming hosts, who invite guests to dine with them in their own homes, to get a real taste of the local cuisine.  It was originally designed for visitors, to help them get a more authentic experience than eating in typical tourist traps around the world, but it is also becoming popular among local people who seize the opportunity to try a new experience and get to know their neighbours.
Launched in Tel Aviv by friends Guy Michlin and Shemer Schwartz in 2012, EatWith has grown quickly to reach 20 different countries across the globe, from Peru to Japan.  Spain is, so far, their biggest success, with 235 dining options in total, including a whopping 173 in our fair Barcelona.  Wait, make that 249 options in Spain, including 185 in Barcelona.  No actually, that’s 251 and 187….. Every time I look on the website the numbers increase, and the appetite for EatWith is growing day by day.  So why is EatWith so popular here in Barcelona?  With my taste buds tingling, I set off on an EatWith adventure to find out….

Browsing the selection of dining options available, I was pleasantly surprised by the volume and variety, and intrigued by the concept of eating someone’s home instead of a local restaurant. Some hosts are semi-professional chefs, others simply have a passion for food that they want to share, but whoever the host, the events all look delicious!  After much deliberation I booked myself onto the ‘Ultimate Vegetarian Mixer’, and quickly received a message from the host Ella confirming giving her contact details & address. Simple!

On the night, I set off with a bottle of wine and an empty stomach to Ella’s home; eager but a little apprehensive at the thought of such an intimate setting, and wondering if I would get along with my host, and the other diners.  I needn’t have worried - I met some fellow guests in the lift on the way up to the flat; it’s amazing how being in a small space when you first meet someone helps to break the ice! 

Once inside the flat we were greeted with smiles and wine; a perfect combination in my book, and we made our way around the room, introducing ourselves and trying hopelessly to remember each other’s names.  There was an interesting mix of guests – most, but not all, in their twenties & early thirties, hailing from a surprising variety of countries.  My memory is a little hazy after all that free flowing wine, but there was at least 7 nationalities I counted, and as we chatted we tended to mix between Spanish and English.

Our host for the evening was the lovely Ella, a twenty-something actress from Australia, with a love for vegetarian cooking. Her enormous flat in Poblenou, with its open plan lounge and kitchen, meant Ella could chop, chat and cook all at the same time, in an impressive display of multi-tasking! The rest of the guests all got to know each other as well, sharing stories of where we were from, how we ended up at en EatWith event, and what we might cook if we were to host a dinner ourselves!  I asked Ella what it was like opening your home to a group of strangers, and she said she wasn’t worried at all about what kind of people would show up; everyone who makes the effort to come are all looking for the same fun & friendly experience.  On the host side, EatWith Manager for Spain Joel explained that all host applications are thoroughly screened to make sure their homes and their offerings are up to scratch, so all guests can be assured they will get a good experience – especially with the EatWith Certified events.
Certainly, all of the food Ella prepared was delicious, and it just kept coming!  I lost count of the courses; and this particular event was a buffet/finger food style so we nibbled and chatted are way through a delightful array of dishes.  There were tasty dips to start with - hummus, tapenade, artichoke & lemon (my personal favourite), followed by pesto & rocket mini flatbreads, then a roasted sweet potato and feta salad, a caramelized onion & goats cheese tart, roast potatoes, a cheese cake made of an actual camembert, and much more besides.  And then came dessert.  Despite the mountain of food I’d just eaten, I managed to find room for dessert as I always do, and especially given that it was strawberry & chocolate empanadas, dusted with cinnamon; well who could resist those!

I wasn’t alone in my happy gluttony; all of the guests I spoke to were suitably impressed by the food and their experience, many of them having joined EatWith for the first time.  And their new-found enthusiasm for EatWith looks set to spread like Ella’s delicious tapenade on crusty bread – several of the guests were planning to host their own events, including a couple from Germany who look set to become the first EatWith hosts in their home town. 

All in all it seems that EatWith has found the recipe for success, and World domination is in sight.  I would personally recommend anyone who likes trying things a little out of the ordinary to sign up now and ‘EatWith’ any of the fabulous hosts; if they are all half as good as my experience you will not be disappointed!  I’ve already signed up for my second event, and my mouth is watering at the prospect of plenty more delicious events to come.  So what are you waiting for?? Sign up, dig in, and enjoy! Bon profit!

Useful Links:

- Ella's Ultimate Vegetarian Mixer
- EatWith official website

This article was written for Porktie by Claire Sturzaker - one of our "Word on the Street" bloggers who specialises in the Barri Gòtic. Check out her personal blog for more Tales of Barcelona.