We continue to receive lovely invites and this one was extended to us Hounds by my Spanish teacher Gloria (she speaks 5 languages & is Catalan), to join her & her family for an annual right of Spring and partake in the Catalan traditional feast called a calçotada.
The centre of attention in a calçotada is, of course, calçots. Calçots are also known as spring onions or scallions that have weathered the Spanish autumn and winter and emerge as bright green shoots in the early Spring. Bunches are traditionally grilled over a hot, open fire (typically using vine cuttings), then wrapped in newspaper & served on terra cotta roof tiles with a beautiful romesco dipping sauce.
Calçots, like wine, have a serious provenance to protect & maintain and actually carry a wine-like DOC (Controlled Designation of Origen) and Valls (calçot central) is an EU Protected Geographical Indication area! . These are not just any spring onions folks!
We were booked in at Restaurant All I Oli, the only Catalan restaurant in San Sebastián & surrounds (the owner & chef is Catalan). So let the fun (and slurping) begin!
Post a welcoming aperitif of local cider and paté, the blackened, steaming plates of calçots began to arrive at our table accompanied by pan tostadas con tomate (toasted bread spread with diced tomato).
Gloria took the honours of showing us newbies how this thing gets done: you strip off the charcoaled skins, then swirl the sweet, tender calçot tendril in the romesco salsa & slide it down your gullet, trying not to disgrace yourself nor splatter your immediate neighbours! Then a couple of bites of pan tostadas con tomate and back at it again…and again.
This was all washed down with a most pleasant bit of juice from Raimat Costers del Segre called Clamor – a more than quaffable blend of Cabernet, Tempranillo with the sweet fruit addition of Merlot.
Though a plate of flaming snails (caracoles in Español) are pictured above, it was the table next to us that took delivery – we just could not resist a flaming photo. Post the calçots, we moved on to the butifarra (Catalan for sausage) & con mongetas (Catalan for beans) course and it was so tasty I only managed to snap a picture of my wee sausage stub.
Muchas gracias to Gloria & su familia for an awesome Saturday and one of our best Spanish experiences!