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Erotic Onions!

February 25, 2013
Calçots waiting to be cooked.

Calçots waiting to be cooked.

A local delicacy here in Catalunya are calçots – a cross between a leek and a onion which are grown predominantly in the area around Valls and eaten at this time of year:  Our friend, Tomas, was keen for us to sample this rather unusual food and was very pleased with himself to have managed to book a table as all the restaurants get extremely booked up; apparently he had told them that Sheila and I were important English TV producers in order to secure the table! So last Friday, we drove to a little village north of Valls called Masmolets where Tomas insisted that all the village was a restaurant – and he was just about correct.

Tomas shows us the tiny village of Masmolets which is almost entirely a restaurant for calçots!

Tomas shows us the tiny village of Masmolets which is almost entirely a restaurant for calçots!

The fire over which the calçots are cooked ...

The fire over which the calçots are cooked …

Calçots being prepared for serving

Calçots being prepared for serving

Outside were huge supplies of calçots waiting to be grilled over a fire of branches pruned from the local vines which grow with the calçots. Inside, the restaurant was a fabulous old building with an old wine press, a well and beautiful rooms which we were able to look round and photograph as we were one of the first to arrive at 1pm.

Sheila and Tomas in one of the beautiful rooms upstairs - not the porróns and also the bibs set out in readiness!

Sheila and Tomas in one of the beautiful rooms upstairs – note the porróns and also the bibs set out in readiness!

Another beautiful room in this fabulous building.

Another beautiful room in this fabulous building.

We could not believe how the restaurant and car park filled up with Spaniards arriving in bus loads from far and wide, all eager for their annual meal of calçots. Tomas had warned us to wear old clothes as we could expect to get very dirty and I was slightly taken aback to see large bibs provided at every place setting. We were presented with a roof tile filled with blackened calçots and Tomas instructed us to peel them using the thumb and first two fingers of the right hand. This was especially tricky as they were very hot.

The calçots are served on a roof tile - note the pristine condition of the table at this stage.

The calçots are served on a roof tile – note the pristine condition of the table at this stage.

Tomas with his first calçot perfectly peeled.

Tomas with his first calçot perfectly peeled.

Showing us how it is done!

Showing us how it is done!

Having removed the charred outer layers, the white interior is dipped in a special romesco sauce made of ground almonds, hazelnuts, tomatoes and spices to a secret recipe. You then eat the onion by dangling it above your mouth. Gentlemen supposedly find the sight of their lady friends consuming calçots thus to be most erotic. However, the subsequent flatulence is probably less so. It is probably a good thing that Tomas, Sheila and I had a boat each to ourselves that evening!

Now it's our turn to try!

Now it’s our turn to try!

Now it all starts to get a bit messy ...

And it all starts to get a bit messy …

Anyway I can vouch for the fact that calçots are quite delicious since Sheila, Tomas and I managed to consume 2½ tiles-worth of them – maybe 15 or so each? The waiters continue to offer more until you feel you have eaten enough – the record stands at about 300 but we are mere amateurs! Since we were also required to drink from a porrón, it all got pretty messy! For those who may not know, a porrón is a traditional Spanish wine carafe with a spout from which you drink without actually putting it into your mouth. It requires considerable skill to tip back your head and aim the wine into your mouth without pouring the contents of the porrón down your front!

A scene of devastation!

The scene of devastation when we’d had our fill!

The next course is served.

The next course is served.

Afterwards we were permitted to go to the cloakroom and clean ourselves up before the brought in the next course – an earthenware pot filled with embers over which was a griddle of sausages and lamb served with grilled artichokes and beans and glasses of champagne. Finally we were brought the most delicious Crème Catalan I have ever eaten and thin slices of orange presumably to cleanse the palate. We could hardly move from the table but as soon as we did it was taken by others waiting to dine!

The magnificent gateway at Santes Creus.

The magnificent gateway at Santes Creus.

A view inside the beautiful monastery of Santes Creus.

A view inside the beautiful monastery of Santes Creus.

En route home, Tomas took us to visit a Cistercian convent at Santes Creus. It was good to have an opportunity for a little gentle exercise after our gargantuan meal. The convent was beautiful but we were a bit rushed to see it all before it closed at 5.30pm. Afterwards we stopped again at Montferri to see a chapel designed by a student of Antoni Gaudi so we were not back at the marina until 7:30pm by which time Sheila and I wanted nothing more than to collapse on our respective boats with a cup of tea. Tomas, however, is made of sterner stuff and rushed off to join the usual Friday night crowd who gather in the marina bar!

The chapel at Montferri

The chapel at Montferri

NB. My apologies to all who may be offended by the mix of English, Spanish and Catalan spellings in this blog and the previous one. It all gets very confusing for a bear of little brain who speaks very limited Spanish and no Catalan.

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2 comments

  1. That looks, and sounds, wonderful! Thanks.

    Cheers

    Mike


  2. Have thoroughly enjoyed this!



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