Visitors to Barcelona this month are treated with a Catalan gastronomic treat, the Calçotada.
A calçot is a large green vegetable belonging to the onion family, though it looks more like a leek with a green stem and white edible section. Eaten with a romesco sauce, they are absolutely delicious. There is only one way to prepare them to make the best of their flavour, and that is over a charcoal grill. At the table they are dipped in Romesco, composed of olive oil, hazel nuts, pine nuts, nora peppers, roasted garlic and roasted tomatoes.
In a traditional calçotada meal Calçots are eaten as a starter and followed by a selection of meat, also cooked on a charcoal grill, this typically includes rabbit, lamb, pork, chicken and Catalan butifarra sausages. Needless to say copious amounts of local Penedes wine are needed to wash this all down.
Often the best Calçotada spots are Masies, old stone Catalan farm houses in the countryside or outskirts of Barcelona, such as Can Carbonell or Can Martí, both offer great views of the city in the rural setting of Collserola National Park.
However idyllic eating outdoors in the spring sunshine is, it is not always compatible with city living and some excellent Calçotades can also be found in Barcelona too. The Bodega Monumental in Sants or Quina Barra in Sant Martí, or in the Eixample, Caliu de L’Eixample are very good choices.