RISKY BUSINESS IN BARCELONA

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A free lunch to the press is, as we know, like honey to bees and on Friday, in their Supercup paddock suite, Porsche invited the fourth estate to partake in its hospitality. An extra enticement is that this season the sports car series has struck a deal with Martini, whose famous logo was first seen on the side of a Porsche 906 in 1968. So cocktails were on the menu too. Cin cin.

As tradition dictates, journalists were tested on their Supercup knowledge with a fiendish quiz. It came down to a tiebreak over how many special stages Sebastien Loeb has won, for the 9-times WRC champ is driving the Martini-liveried VIP race car this weekend. According to Wikipedia, he’s won 896 stages but the man from Porsche insisted it’s 899. I had no idea, I just guessed but GPi Magazine photographer Peter Fox said 900 and won himself a race suit. So that’s the next fancy dress party sorted then.

The race suit prize makes a change from the usual bonanza of a 911 for the weekend. Had that still been the case, and I’d won, I would have been in the awkward (but I guess enviable) position of having two Porsches for the weekend. Given the cost of parking in downtown Barcelona it is a godsend that didn’t happen.

Porsche have lent me the very sexy new Cayman to road test this week, and in ‘Risky Business’ grey no less. Thus far I have avoided putting it into a lake in a bid to evoke one of my favourite 80s movies, but I have been listening to a lot of Gary Numan and Tangerine Dream. The plan is to stay on in Spain for a couple of extra days and stretch its legs. I’ll post a report soon.

Friday also saw curry night at Force India, with head chef Dave “The Duke” Freeman serving up a beef and spinach masala. I know Vijay Mallya comes in for some stick, but without him there would be less curry, booze and yacht parties in our lives – and that would be a very bad thing.

That evening I joined friends at a cocktail bar called Dry Martini, where dapper white-coated barmen make some of the best martinis in town (stirred, not shaken). Past the bar and through the kitchen is a secret restaurant called Speakeasy, where my co-diners had hired a private room. I had come from the curry night so I was okay for nosh, but it looked so good I helped myself to some red tuna in tempura. Best fish and chips ever.

The following night I headed to dinner at 4 Gats, which is a Spanish expression meaning ‘a few unimportant persons’, so anyone who has been turned down for a McLaren interview will feel at home here. Picasso was a regular in this century-old taverna and designed the menu (probably in exchange for a beer and a plate of Iberian ham, knowing Pablo), which I have photographed below.

Then my gang and I headed to Boadas Cocktail Bar, where they serve their restoratives by the pint. This is one of the finest old school cocktails bars in Europe, and was established in the 1930s by a Cuban émigré who used to serve Hemingway. Then we went to the Barcelona Pipa Club, a bar dedicated to Sherlock Homes and the cult of pipe smoking. It was a cool little place, unmarked, and overlooking the pretty Plaça Relal. You have to know it’s there. The only sign of its existence is the words ‘Pipa Club’ scrawled by hand in biro on an apartment buzzer. Upstairs there was a rag-tag bunch playing pool and sipping beers in the wood-paneled rooms. Surprisingly, though, smoking was not allowed. Gutted, I had brought my pipe specially.

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The F1-SD Porsche Cayman – and, if you look closely, Topaz. At £400 million, it’s the most expensive yacht in the world. It’s owned by Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the deputy prime minister of the UAE. Imagine if Nick Clegg had one of those!

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Picasso’s menu illustration for 4 Gats

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Dry Martini

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