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01/27/2019 - 11:00am

While Americans tend to get together for barbecues during every weekend of the summer, Spain's busy city of Barcelona holds to the unique tradition of Catalan winter barbecues during a series of incredible food festivities that are known as the Calcotada. It's a lot like any other barbecue with huge groups of friends gathering together to enjoy great food along with plenty of wine and fun, but this special type of barbecue is based around a seasonal vegetable that is simply known as the calcot. That may not sound too impressive at first, but read further to learn more about this delicious tradition and how you can experience it during your stay in Barcelona.

A Celebration of the Onion and More

From January to April, the calcot, which is a type of green onion or scallion, is ripe and ready to become the star of its own show. The festivities surrounding this popular veggie pop up during the entire winter season as big events in various towns, in restaurants and around barbecue grills wherever they may be found.

Chicken on the BarbequeThe grill is a must for the proper preparation of the calcots, and these are served as the first course with a homemade toast covered in olive oil, salt and tomatoes. The second course of the traditional meal is all grilled as well, and this normally includes Catalan spiced sausage, pork and lamb chops, beef, chicken, rabbit and other seasonal vegetables. A dessert that features fresh oranges comes last and usually involves delicious homemade pastries with orange-cream filling.

La Gran Festival Calcotada

The biggest Calcotada festival is held each year in Valls, a town in nearby Tarragona that has been celebrating the calcot for some 100 years. In fact, history has it that the calcot was discovered in the late 19th century by Chat Benaiges, a Vall's farmer, and he is credited with the famous cooking method and the special romesco sauce that brings out the best flavors. The next festival is scheduled for January 27, 2019, and you may expect a huge parade, a calcot cookoff, calcot and sauce tastings, a dog show, live music, face painting and other activities for children and all of the traditional foods and local wines that you can handle.

At Restaurants

It's not uncommon to find many Barcelona restaurants offering all-you-can-eat calcots during the winter months, and some also put the full traditional meal on their seasonal menu. You'll likely see signs out front advertising this treat as you explore the city, and these are a few of the restaurants that can be counted on for calcots. Before you order at any restaurant, make sure that the calcots are actually being grilled and never microwaved.

  • El Disbarat
  • Cerveseria Catalana
  • El Mussol
  • El Jardi de l'Apat
  • Font Les Planes
  • l'Antic Forn
  • Can Marti
  • Can Manel
  • La Llar de Foc

Grill Your Own

Most picnic areas in Barcelona as well as the many vineyards have grills that may be used by those who want to try their hand at preparing their own calcots. There's no charge for using the grills, but the vineyards usually expect you to buy their wine to go with your meal. You need only cook the calcots over a high flame for about five minutes, and it's best to add grapevine clippings to your fire to get the excellent flavor that the grilled calcots are famous for. It's extremely important that you don't forget the romesco sauce, and it's easy to make with ripe tomatoes, almonds, hazelnuts, garlic, olive oil and vinegar. Recipes and helpful tips are plentiful with a quick internet search. Those lodging with us here at Exceptional Stays will find a barbecue grill at most of our vacation homes, and those choosing one of our luxury residences with its own private chef may opt to have calcots prepared fresh daily.