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    Barcelona: ‘calçots’ tours

    Calçots is one of the most delicious dishes in Catalonia. Although they are eaten everywhere in the area, they are originally from a zone in Tarragona called Valls. It was there that many years ago, a farmer tried digging up sprouting onions rather like Spring onions and roasting them on coals. Since then, the new way of cooking this field produce, has spread to every corner in the province and nearby surroundings and now we can find it even outside Catalonia.

    However, there is nothing better than eating calçots in Tarragona or Barcelona. In both provinces there are dozens of restaurants specializing in this traditional dish, which is mainly eaten in Winter. The Calçot harvest season begins right now in November and lasts until April, so if you are considering a culinary trip, it is best not to waste time but start looking for flights and accommodation: calçot season has started!

    The ideal tour is in Tarragona, the land where calçot originated, in the area of Valls where as a geographically protected site, (PGI) Valls’ Calçots are grown. Throughout the area known as Camp de Tarragona you can find the best and finest calçots ‘restaurants in the region, some of them serve this dish almost exclusively in season and they are an original delicacy. Not only because the product is of the highest quality and are harvested in the surrounding fields but because they prepare the accompanying sauce as no-one else can.

    Valls is so rooted in tradition that every year there is a prize for the best special onion sprouts and the best grower, some of which can be found in the town of Perafort and it is quite a sight to see how they are collected, cooked and then happily eaten. You’ll notice that eating them is not easy and you need to be correctly prepared: the sauce splashes and a lot of people choose to eat with a bib, which is also part of the experience.

    The sauce is a little like ‘romesco’ sauce and many people confuse them, but in Valls it has its own name: salvitxada. The ingredients to produce it are garlic, both raw and roasted, hazelnuts and powdered toasted almonds, dried sweet red peppers, roasted tomatoes, toasted bread soaked in vinegar and a little olive oil and salt. Everything is mixed and crushed or ground until it is a fairly compact and thick sauce in which the Catalan onion sprouts are steeped.

    In Tarragona, especially in Valls, preparing a good sauce is almost as important as cultivating this type of spring onions and those who manage to get the best salvitxada each season are celebrated. Just ask and you will be told which taverns and restaurants are most skilled in making salvitxadas.

    Leaving the area of Tarragona and Valls, which was the original centre for ‘calcots’, if you have the opportunity to go to Barcelona in the months of November, December or January you won’t fail to find a good place in the city to try this delight. In the Catalan capital there are places where the sauce is so carefully prepared and so tasty that it rivals that of Tarragona.

    One restaurant in Barcelona famous for its ‘calçotadas’ is Can Xurrades, where they accompany the menu of grilled meats. María Can Cortés is the place of which it is said that you can eat authentic Valls’ calçots in Barcelona, brought directly from the fields of Tarragona. In the Collserola, Can Martí, with its calçotada menus that are so huge that you will be amazed, is a typical old Catalonian tavern, which doesn’t fail to charm.

    Can Punyetes, where they are experts in traditional Catalan cuisine, is another must. You should also try some others like Ali Oli, Mussol and Can Manel, the latter in Sants and with the perfect atmosphere for organized calçotadas in a group. The Disbarat in Gracia, is one of the best and most valued by the locals. All offer calçots in season but in most of them it is best to make a reservation in advance.

    If you decide to take your gourmet break in Barcelona in the calçots season, try to book accommodation well in advance because at the weekends city hotels tend to display no vacancy signs during these months. You can choose a hotel or cottage in the suburbs, but our recommendation to take full advantage of the trip is to opt for one in the centre with comfortable services to make things easier. The Catalonia Hotels chain often makes special online offers for each of its hotels in Barcelona, like the Hotel Catalonia Ramblas, the Catalonia Sagrada Familia and the Catalonia Barcelona Plaza. The NH group also has several well-equipped city centre hotels such as Barceló, which has one of busiest, sought after hotels in Barcelona right now, located in El Raval and with a rooftop where you can enjoy unrivalled views of the whole of the Catalan capital.

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