Barcelona is quite rightly recognised as Catalonia’s capital with its grand architecture and beautiful coastline but what lies beyond. What does Catalonia have to offer? Why do Jim and I keep returning? Apart from the airfares being cheap, there is the astounding scenery – you couldn’t find anywhere more breath-taking than the Pyrenees Mountains.
Good grub. Good doesn’t even begin to describe the local food that is surprisingly underrated. We are always hearing ‘eat authentic’ so we try, it is usually possible if you stick to the small family restaurants where meals are like those grandma made and often at prices grandma would have paid.
The region is famous for many things. Because of its location, seafood is high on the list, as are vegetables such as tomatoes, red peppers, aubergines, mushrooms and artichokes although not a favourite of mine.
On this visit, we were too late in the year for calçots, which I love, those long green onions that they barbeque then dunk in bowls of romesco sauce made from almonds, olive oil and red peppers.
It makes no difference where you eat you will always be given a slice of pa amb tomàquet; bread rubbed with tomato and drizzled with oil and salt. A true Catalan staple often served with butifarra a spiced sausage, however my favourite is with a slice of jamón perched on top.
For lunch, we snacked on fresh-from-the-oven empanadas filled with tuna or beef and vegetables, tortilla and a soft, goat’s cheese served with honey and nuts.
And when it finally got to dinner time we feasted on Escudella a stew made with meat, beans, potatoes, cabbage and pasta or lamb roasted with garlic simple but magical. Of course, on every menu was crema catalane, similar to crème brulee, but I only had room for this once.
So what did I bring home from this trip apart from a very full and satisfied stomach? Well, truth be told, so much MORE of me!