‘Tis the Season for Calçots

Visitors to Catalonia arriving within the next month are in for another gastronomic experience distinct to this time of year & the region.  The season of calçots begins in November and finishes up in April.  It’s a sacred meal for Catalans, enjoyed over lots of wine, chatting and good company.  If this interests you, here is all you would need to know about the calçot experience.

What is a calçot anways? It is a large green onion resemblant of a leek, but with branching at the top of each onion.  It is a type of scallion, typically milder than onions and a bit thicker in width.  They primarily come from Lledia, a territory on the outskirts of Barcelona.  They have been growing for ages in Spain, but were only cultivated in a specific way just before the turn of the 20th century, in which a certain farmer began to cover the edible part with dirt so that it wouldn’t turn green.

A prime & ready-to-eat peeled calçot.

How are they prepared? The traditional method of cooking this beloved onion is to char them over a barbecue, giving them a unique smoky flavor. Sometimes they are wrapped in newspaper, preserving their liquid, while other times they are thrown directly on the barbecue. Since the outside becomes blackened, they are to be peeled, then dipped into a special kind of sauce, known as “romesco.”  The sauce is a wonderful combination of almonds, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, vinegar and oil.

Freshly prepared romesco sauce.

What is a calçotada? This is the term used to describe the rather lively gathering for eating calçots.  In a traditional calçotada, calçots are eaten as the first plate, followed by a large array of barbecued meats, such as rabbit, chicken, pork, lamb, and Catalan sausages.  Moreover, they’re washed right down with plenty of wine throughout the spaced-out meal.  The reason for the extension of the season of calçots is to be able to consume them more enjoyably outdoors.  Throughout the entirety of the calçot season, they are generally outdoors despite the temperature, but as the temperatures have started to turn, the true season for calçotadas has sprung into full form.

Grilled meats for the second course of a calçotada.

Where are they usually held? Typically they are held outside of “masies,” old stone farm houses in the countryside.  Groups of friends venture outside of the city to pass the day at a calçotada.

An old Catalan masie.

How can we enjoy a calçotada or eating calçots in Barcelona? There are lots of options to do this — many restaurants during this time of year offer options to do a full calçotada. Have a look at options such as El Caliu de l’Eixample or some of the popular restaurants in the city to enjoy this tradition. If you’re keen to try just the calçots, keep your eye out for calçot tapas plates on many menus across town.

Stay with us for your visit to Barcelona! Our beautiful apartments located in the city center are an excellent choice to stay at during your holiday.  Our helpful staff will put you in the right direction to try some of the Catalan tradition of calçots. We are also near all the main sights in Barelona.  At our Ramblas Building Apartments, we have everything you need to allow you to fully enjoy your holiday: friendly, helpful staff and fully-stocked apartments in the most central location.

Photo Credits: Jose Mieza, Carlos Lorenzo, Jaula de Ardilla, BikerBaixCamp.

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