1. Enjoy the castanyada
While other countries are dressing up as ghosts and ghouls, the Catalan tradition for October 31st is a far more gentle affair. Today is the Castanyada, a festival when autumnal foods, such as chestnuts, sweet potatoes and panellets are feasted upon. The custom is said to have originated in the 9th century, when the men of the town would go to ring the church bells in honour of the dead, and the women would bake these treats to keep them going through a hard night of tolling. The delicious marzipan panellets can be found at bakeries throughout the city. For the most authentic, try Mauri (Rbla. Catalunya 103), Foix de Sarrià (Major de Sarrià 57) or La Colmena (Pl. del’Àngel 12).
2. See a Barça match
The Blaugranas have gone through a lot of changes in the last few years. Manager Gerardo Martino has been replaced by the familiar face of Luis Enrique. Old timers Puyol and Valdes have also moved on, as have Cesc Fabregas, Alexis Sanchez and Bojan Krkic. And, the club has welcomed several new signings into the fold, including Luis Suarez (he of the World Cup biting incident). So, it’s time to see if they have managed to leave the last season’s problems behind them. And if you don’t know the first thing about football (and don’t particularly care), you don’t need to be a fan to enjoy the party atmosphere at Camp Nou. This month’s home matches are on the 15th against Deportivo (League), 19th against Manchester City (Champions League) and 29th against Granada (League).
3. Hunt for bolets
Mushroom season is upon us and every market and greengrocers is adorned with baskets of freshly-picked mushrooms, mostly hailing from the woodlands of Catalunya. Head to Bolets Petràs in La Boqueria, where bolet-hunter extraordinaire, Llorenç Petràs, can tell you what’s what. Better still, why not get out there and forage your own? If you can’t hook up with a knowledgeable, local friend, then at least know where to go, what to look for and what to avoid (http://web.gencat.cat/en/actualitat/reportatges/temporada-de-bolets/).
4. Crunch some leaves
What better way to enjoy autumn than to take a leisurely walk crunching leaves underfoot. So, dig out a thick sweater, take the ferrocarril to Baixador de Vallvidrera and join one of the Collserola park’s guided walks. They start from the park information centre every Saturday at 10.30am and 12pm and cost €1.75 per person. Each walk lasts an hour and has a specific theme, such as birds, pine trees or wild boars. See the park’s website for more details: www.parcnaturalcollserola.cat.
5. Brew your own beer
It’s beer month in Munich, so why not here? Craft beers are enjoying a major revival right now in Catalunya and there are plenty of places to try some local flavours. But if you want to take things a step further it’s time to sign up to a course with Steve’s Beer Acadamy and learn how to brew your own. Originally from Liverpool, long-term Barcelona resident and craft beer expert, Steve Huxley runs these three-session courses which take place throughout the year. The courses cost €120 and cover brewing, bottling and tasting. See www.stevebeer.com for more information. Cheers!