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March 6 2015

Time for calçots

We start 2015 with the season of cold and the season of calçots.

 

Enjoyed for ages, the calçotada is a gastronomic feast that originates in the counties of the Tarragona Province, in the south of Catalonia and primarily in the town of Valls, but now it has extended through all of the Catalan territories.  To the delight of some and to the embittered existence of others via excessive gastric gasses, calçots are the protagonists of countless gatherings of friends, families, and neighbors during the first months of the year.

 

For those who don’t know what a calçotada consists of, there are four basic points to help understand this phenomena:

  1. Calçots are a type of onion that is grilled on the open flame.  Normally they are cooked using the pruned grapevine branches as the season of calçotadas coincides with the pruning season.
  2. Calçots are made over high flames, not just over the coals, and are completely charred on the exterior.
  3. Normally that are eaten with the hands.  With one hand you grip the end of the calçot below the head and with the other you pull back the charred bits.
  4. When the uncharred part is fully exposed you dip it in the sauce and dangling it in to your mouth.

 

There are many necessary elements as seen by any calçotada lover.  Putting the calçots aside—as the majority of people agree that thinner is better—the sauce is the most important part and is a variation on the well-known romesco sauce.  It’s made with the following ingredients: tomatoes and roasted garlic, toasted almonds and hazelnuts, dried red peppers and seasoning.  In the past, each house has had its own style when it came to the sauce question for the calçots but as is the case in other areas, homogenization is the order of the day and at many calçotadas you will find sauce from a store-bought jar.

 

Calçots and their sauce are accompanied very well with bread and good meat (often had with botifarras, pancetta, or ribs of lamb depending on one’s budget), but more than anything else you can’t be missing a good wine to help get all this food down and decrease potential digestion issues given the size of this meal.

 

If you aren’t sure which wine is the best to accompany this feast with coated hands, from Espelt Viticultors we propose the Sauló, the Jon Hamm of young wines.  A wine that is 50% Grenache and 50% Carignane, it lovingly accompanies grilled meats and vegetables.  A wine with a wild spirit, of the mountain and wind, much like the scenes found at the best calçotadas.

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