If there’s one place every traveler should eat in Barcelona, it’s the impossibly chic El Nacional, a food court like no other.

BARCELONA – There’s no shortage whatsoever of good — no, extraordinary — food in Barcelona. You don’t have to try hard to eat well here. But when faced with an all-too-fleeting 36 hours in the city of Gaudi, there is something to be said for a place that begs a repeat visit on a limited timeline. Which is why I found myself at El Nacional not once, but twice (okay, okay, it might’ve been three times).

Located in the heart of Eixample, a neighborhood defined by Catalan modernism, and tucked just far enough away from the bustling but ritzy Passeig de Gràcia, El Nacional is modern food court that will redefine what you think of food courts. The impossibly chic space houses four restaurant concepts — La Braseria (dry-aged, wood-fired meats), La Llotja (supremely fresh fish and shellfish), La Taperia (all of the tapas), and La Paradeta (any-time-of-day perfect bites) — and four individually specialized bars.

Oh, and did I mention every square inch of the the place is impeccably designed? Inspired by the San Miguel market in Madrid (and within walking distance of the legendary La Boqueria), interior designer Lázaro Rosa Violán transformed an old garage into a design maven’s paradise, with 8,500 square feet of soaring high ceilings, steel casement windows, modern fixtures, and enough natural light and tilework to convince one to overshare on Instagram.

On my first visit, I cozied up to the oyster bar at La Llotja, where I indulged in a few ice, ice, ice-cold and brilliantly briny Galician oysters. To sip while I slurped, I had a crisp and juicy glass of Spanish rosé cava.

For my next course, I slinked towards the wine and cured meats bar, where I nibbled on paper-thin and glistening slices of Ibérico ham and a sharp, hard Basque cheese alongside fragrant pan con tomate. Putting it all over the top was an (almost irritatingly) balanced Aperol spritz.

And so, to no one’s surprise, I returned after dinner that night, for a good old-fashioned do-over. Now, it’s your turn. Do me a favor: Don’t snooze (like I did) on the namesake “El Nacional” at the cocktail bar, which is made with white Yzaguirre vermouth, cinnamon, sugar, lime, and mint. And order one of everything else.

New York is home to the iconic coffee cup. And now: premium, fair trade, minimalist coffee boutiques — serving a fast-growing, highly caffeinated fan base. Inspired by West Coast coffee culture and downtown’s artisanal food trend, dozens of small establishments are setting up shop to serve one thing and one thing only: premium high-end coffee by the cup. The lingo permeates everyday conversations (ie: baristas, foam-design, Probat, tamping, single-origin beans, Clover, la Marzocco), which makes it clear that quality coffee is quickly becoming the rule, rather than exception.

I may not eat grains (that much), but they still have their uses. This oatmeal lavender facial scrub recipe helps to soothe and calm skin while gently helping to exfoliate it. It can be a good solution for those with sensitive skin, but it’s also useful for all skin types!

Facial Scrub Ingredients (And Why They’re Used)

These are the basic ingredients that I use in this scrub. If you aren’t into the DIY but want an amazing natural facial cleansing scrub, I love this handmade one from Crunchy Betty and use it when I don’t feel like making it myself.

Oatmeal

While you won’t typically see a bowl of rolled oats at my breakfast table, oatmeal is a cheap and natural way to care for the skin. People have been using oats for skincare for about 4,000 years. When the oats are finely ground they form what’s called colloidal oatmeal.

The New Zealand Dermatological Society lists the many proven benefits of oatmeal for skin:

forms a barrier to protect skin against irritants and balance normal skin pH
moisturizes skin with water-binding polysaccharides, hydrocolloids, and fats
soothes itchy, dry skin with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
guards against photoaging (sun damage)
lowers prostaglandin production and arachidonic acid release
It’s no wonder colloidal oatmeal is in so many skin products!

Lavender

Lavender is one of my absolute favorite herbs, and I’ve detailed more about it here. This facial scrub recipe uses both lavender flowers and lavender essential oil, which both help calm and heal the skin. The flowers add extra exfoliation while the lavender essential oil adds concentrated beneficial properties … not to mention both smell amazing!

Baking Soda and Sea Salt

Lavender and oatmeal are very gentle, but I’ve added a little baking soda and sea salt help to up the scrubbing power.

Baking soda is a very fine powder, so it acts like a microdermabrasion to gently exfoliate the skin. Sea salt is a little coarser but only a small amount is used overall so as not to overpower the other ingredients in this facial scrub recipe. Himalayan sea salt is my favorite to use as it nourishes the skin with a wide variety of minerals.

Gentle Oatmeal Lavender Facial Scrub Recipe

This is one of my new favorite beauty recipes, and I think you’re going to love it as well!

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