Eating can be a pleasurable but also a funny experience. And travelling to Catalonia is a great chance to ratify this fact. The Catalan gastronomy offers a wide range of delicious dishes all over the year. But between January and March there are some that you can enjoy with a laugh. Here are some suggestions to warm you up this winter!
January. Surprises INSIDE a cake: the Tortell de Reis
The New Year starts with a sweet: the ‘Tortell de Reis’, which is traditionally eaten on January the 6th, during the celebration of Dia de Reis (literally “King’s Day”), or Epiphany. This day commemorates the arrival of the three Magi or Wise Men to visit baby Jesus and greeting him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. It is also the day when kids get their presents and the family meet for lunch and have, as a dessert, the Tortell.
So, you have a round-shaped cake and two surprises hidden in it: a little figure of a king and a raw bean, known in Catalonia as ‘fava’. If you find the king, Congratulations! You will be awarded with a golden paper crown and named the King (or Queen) of the event with all the honours. But if, instead, you discover the ‘fava’ bean, you are obligated to pay next year’s tortell! (it costs from 10 up to 50 euros).
It is not difficult to see that the most important thing is not how the cake tastes, but the excitement on every bite you take!
-Where to find a Tortell? Almost all pastry shops make their own Tortells.
Some of the best known in Barcelona are:
-Tip: A great way to brighten up a bite of Tortell is with a glass of Cava, the Catalan sparkling wine. One of the most famous brands is Codorníu, which offers the chance to visit its Modernista-style cellars just 45 km from Barcelona, in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia.
February. The craziness of Carnival (Fat Thursday)
The celebration of Carnestoltes (Carniva’ls Week) is an opportunity to enjoy life before the arrival of Old Lady Lent and her restrictions,. This also comes with the food. The tastier, the better. The official start of the many events are on ‘Dijous Gras’ o ‘Dijous llarder’ (Fat Thursday), and there are some dishes that are very typical for that specific day. Egg is a basic ingredient and, apart from omelettes, you can find in many markets and stores the ‘botifarra d’ou’ a sort of sausage made with pork and egg that has a characteristic yellowish colour and a smooth texture. Served with a slice of bread and tomato and olive oil is simply delicious! It is also really worth it to try Coca de llardons, a sort of pastry cake with pork crackling
Places to taste it: Every year, food markets like La Boqueria holdswhat they call a ‘Botifarrada Popular’ organized by the Guild of butchers. Last year up to 6.000 free rations egg sausage were provided!
March. Funniest Feast Ever: Calçotada
When was the last time you could eat without complex with your fingers, surrounded by several people and wearing a bib to avoid getting your clothes filthy?. Maybe that was a long, long time ago. But you can experience a ‘dejá vu’ again by taking part of a Calçotada.
The basic ingredient is the ‘Calçot’, a kind of onion that is tender, white and sweet. They cook it on a grill over the flames and it is accompanied by romesco sauce. Simply delicious! And there is also a ‘ritual’ technique to peel and eat a calçot. Once you learn it, you’ll never forget it! Despite the fact that you can eat calçots in restaurants, a Calçotada is a great excuse to meet with friends or family and go out to enjoy an open-air meeting. Some say that is the Catalan version of a barbecue.
-Where can I eat a Calçotada? One of the most typical places is Valls, which is 78 km (48 miles) from Barcelona and 20 km (12 miles) from Tarragona.
If you prefer to stay in Barcelona you can enjoy a calçotada –made with a lot of Love-, at Taverna El Glop. Located in the bohemian disctrict of Gracia, you can afterwards take a nice and relaxing stroll around.
But if you want to enjoy a platter of calçots –even only for a try before a meal-, and surrounded with the breathtaking views of Montserrat Mountain, Restaurant Vinya Nova is your place.