Photo by David Montgomery
Originally developed in Valls in Tarragona 100 years ago, the juicy calçot is eaten all over Catalunya during the winter season. These sweet white onions are planted during the autumn and, as they grow, more soil is layered around the stems. This results in the sprouting of several shoots that grow to resemble small leeks. Harvest starts in November and continues until April, with high season falling between January and March. The finest way to enjoy this deliciously mild onion is as the locals do: at a calçotada with plenty of friends, wine and often some hearty meat as a second course. More than just a barbecue, the calçotada is a ritual. They usually take place in merenderos--public barbecues in the countryside. The calçots are grilled directly over a large flame for about five minutes each side until they turn black on the outside. Then they are wrapped in newspaper and served on curved terracotta roof tiles. Eating calçots requires a certain skill and bibs are a must. To perform the task correctly, if not elegantly, hold the onion upright with one hand gripping the centre of the green leaves at the top: then pull down on the bulb with your other hand. The dirty leaves peel off, leaving you with a clean, white calçot to dip into the salvtixtada (or salsa de calçots). Salvitxada is very similar to Romesco sauce but has a thicker, creamier consistency. The key ingredients are tomatoes, onions, almonds and garlic, but there are as many variations as there are towns in Catalunya. If you don’t get the chance to attend a grand calçotada, you can always head to a rural masía or any of the places listed on the right:
A 25-minute drive from the city, this masía has been preparing hearty Catalan food for three generations
Sant Salvador s/n, Montaña, Vilassar de Dalt
Located in Sants, this restaurant is dedicated exclusively to grilled meats, snails and calçots.
Specialising in grilled food, their concise menu offers great Catalan classics at a good price. Located uptown.
Mariá Cubi 189
Located in Collserola, you can reach this typical Catalan masía in just 15 minutes from the city centre. Specialised in calçots.
Carretera de la Muntanya s/n
Besides their special Menú de calçotada, this restaurant is known for its 100 percent ecologically-raised Iberian “Kobe” Beef.
Gran de Gràcia 57