Daniel Brühl brings a serving of Barcelona to Berlin

After the success of the actor’s tapas bar he has brought out a Spanish recipe book

Brühl and González, in their Bar Raval in Berlín.
Brühl and González, in their Bar Raval in Berlín.patrick hoffmann ((wenn.com))

German actor Daniel Brühl has won over audiences thanks to outstanding performances such as his role as real-life racing driver Niki Lauda in Rush, or for quirky cameos such as those in 2 Days in Paris and 2 Days in New York. But away from his acting, he admits to having something of a split personality: his mother is from Barcelona (where he spent his childhood holidays), and his father is German. In a bid to reconcile the two sides to his character, three years ago the actor decided to open a tapas bar in Berlin, the city he now calls home, and which he has named after Barcelona’s Raval district.

Brühl admits that the bar’s popularity is in large part due to his fame but insists that the food is as good as would be found in Spain

“Bar Raval is like a second home to me,” says the actor, who recently appeared alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman in the adaptation of John Le Carre’s post-9/11 spy tale A Most Wanted Man, set in Hamburg. “When I came to live in Berlin, I didn’t know any Spaniards I could speak with, and only spoke the language with my family. But in the bar I can speak Spanish and immerse myself in Spanish culture – eating, drinking, speaking, reading, and watching la liga.”

Brühl admits that the bar’s popularity, which he set up with Atilano González, a Spaniard resident in Berlin, is in large part due to his fame, but insists that the food is as good as would be found in Spain. Building on Bar Raval’s success, Brühl and González have just published a recipe book called ¡Tapas! Die Spanische Küche der Bar Raval (or, Tapas, the Spanish cuisine of Bar Raval).

“Friends are always asking us for recipes, so when the publisher asked us if we wanted to write a book, we decided that after three years we would be able to,” says Brühl. “It’s a very simple book – Atilano and I wrote it together, most of the ideas are his.”

The pair met in 2003 at the Berlin Film Festival when Brühl was promoting his breakthrough movie Good Bye Lenin! They soon discovered a shared interest in Spanish food, but say they were never able to find anywhere decent to eat in the German capital. Finally, in 2010, they decided to fill the gap and open their own tapas bar.

I remember ‘patatas bravas’ from my childhood holidays in Barcelona, and wanted something equivalent”

“Daniel and I developed the idea of the bar together and we designed the decoration and the menu,” says González, who now runs the establishment. “We wanted to reconnect with Spain and share Spanish food and culture with our German friends. A lot of people travel to Spain, but they rarely stray off the tourist trail to sample proper Spanish food.”

It took the two friends six months to write the book, which reveals the secrets of their paella, fideuá, octopus croquettes, and patatas bravas. “I love fideuá, and I have to say that our octopus croquettes are very special. We explain to readers that you can use just about anything to make croquettes: they are great made from mussels.”

Brühl says that his favorite recipe from the book is patatas bravas. “I remember them from my childhood holidays in Barcelona, and wanted something equivalent,” he says, adding that the bar’s signature dish is Tataki using acorn-fed Spanish pork. “You can’t find anything like this elsewhere in Berlin.”

Despite his love of Spanish food, Brühl admits to being a poor cook. “I can do gazpacho, bolognese, and duck with orange, but that’s it. It’s a bit annoying; I’d like to be able to cook better, the problem is that I have a bar where people cook for me.”

Brühl has invited many of his co-stars to eat in Bar Raval, and says that he remembers a very special night with Seymour Hoffman during the shooting of A Most Wanted Man, the last film he completed before dying from a heroin overdose in Feburary. “He wanted to try everything, and he particularly loved the patatas bravas. It was an unforgettable night, and he was very happy. He came back a couple of days later when I wasn’t in. He left a lovely note in the visitors’ book.”

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