Spring (Onion) Your Way into Spring....
It is no secret that here in Barcelona we love to eat. No matter the occasion or season we always manage to tie-in some gastronomic angle to every get-together. One favourite foodie traditions loved by Catalans, ex-pats and visitors alike is that of 'The Calcotada'. The Calcotada is a popular ritual which brings together families and friends, in the colder months, to eat these large green onions, called 'Calcots'. There is certainly no escaping these giant spring onions if you're visiting between the months of December and May.
So why are we so obsessed with getting together and eating these over-sized green onions? Firstly it's the social ritual, they are a great excuse to meet up with friends in the countryside, and of course the city also, and spend time together eating, drinking and generally being merry. There is a real knack to eating calcots which people love spending time mastering and, despite maybe perfecting, will always result in dirty hands, charcoaled chins and smelling of smoked onion.
The second reason is the sheer deliciousness of them. The most popular way to cook calcots is to grill them over an open BBQ. The onions are not completely cleaned as a little earth protects their outer skin. They are most commonly served in newspaper and must be eaten directly with the fingers. Although the outer layers will be barbecued until black, the inner bulb remains deliciously tender and white and is dipped into the 'Salsa Romesco'. This gorgeous sauce is made from nuts, dried red peppers, vinegar, garlic and olive oil. The combination will leave you in doubt as to why this ritual is such a popular leisure time with the locals throughout the colder months.
So whilst we still have a couple of months left of the Calcot reigning supreme we wanted to share with you our top 3 places to go and experience the immensely fun Catalan Calcatada.
This country style restaurant is located in the hills of Collserola, so you will need a car to get there. The restaurant has beautiful views over the lush hills of Catalunya and has a very relaxed and tranquil ambience. This restaurant is famous for its Calcotadas and is very popular so it's advisable to book in advance.
A veritable institution for the calcotada, Can Carbonell is well worth the drive to get to. Aside from the star-guest-calcot, the other delicacies on offer are superb, including artichokes, escargot, steak, chicken, lamb, and rabbit. This place is also very child friendly so feel free to bring all the family.
You can't even discuss calcots without paying homage to the birthplace of the Calcotada in Valls, near Tarragona. One of our top restaurants in the area is the amazing Les Espelmes. The staff are incredibly friendly and once you've made your way up the twisting roads the views that greet you are spectacular. With the restaurant being perched on the top of a mountain the views over Barcelona are worth the trek, let alone their award winning calcots. This place is also one of the most popular places for calcotadas, so again make sure you book in advance to avoid any disappointment.