Catalonia is in North East Spain. It nestles between the Pyrénées and the Mediterraean Sea. Those mountains and the sea mean that you need never eat anything that wasn’t grown or caught within Catalonia. They even have a phrase for it, mar y montana or Sea and Mountains, traditional Catalan food often combines fish, meat and vegetables.
Catalan cuisine is the richest, most complex and sophisticated in Spain.Claudia Roden, The Food of SpainClaudia Roden knows a thing or two about food, her recipe books are the ones I use most often. So if she says something is good, then I believe her. Having visited Costa Barcelona and tasted the food I can agree with her.
TRADITIONAL CATALAN INGREDIENTS
The soils of Catalonia are fertile, in the Valles Orientales tomatoes of great sweetness grow.
The salty sea air helps potatoes thrive in Maresme. El Ganxet beans, tasty white beans eaten dried, grow so well that they have an official Protected Designation of Origin which means that not any old bean can be passed off as an El Ganxet one. Peaches flourish around Ordal. The Strawberries from Marseme are small but oh so sweet.
If it’s asparagus that you hanker after then Gava produces some fine spears.
If you thought that a prawn, was a prawn, was a prawn, think again those caught off Vilanova de Geltrú are especially yummy.
Let us not forget wine. There are 765 wineries in Costa Barcelona, it is possible to visit many of them. Zesty white wine, deep and complex reds and most of all Cava. Cava was first produced in Catalonia. I visited the Llopart vineyard and then had lunch in the Mirador de las Caves, overlooking both the vineyards and the magnificent Monserrat mountain.
TRADITIONAL CATALAN FOOD
Pa amb tomàquet or Pan con Tomate, so simple and yet so delicious. Bread, rubbed with garlic, olive oil and tomatoes.
Botifarra or sausage in all its glorious forms pops up everywhere in Catalonia. Whilst I was in Costa Barcelona I ate dried cured salami type sausage, white sausage, black sausage all them were delicious.
Fidueà, forget paella in Catalonia fidueà is the dish. Made with tiny pasta vermicelli rather than rice it is a slightly spicier and infinitely richer version of the more familiar paella. I have bought some vermicelli to try Claudia Roden’s recipe. If it is half as tasty as the version that I tried at Camping Bon Repòs then it will become a staple in the CW family kitchen.
Sardines, I love sardines in all their forms. Straight from the tin on a camping trip but best of all is grilled and eaten outside. Preferably steps away from where they were caught.
Arroz Negre, literally black rice. Of all the many delicious things that I ate during my stay in Costa Barcelona this plate of shimmering black rice was the most delicious. Arros Negre is sort of a risotto but made with squid ink. I confess that I did think “hmm, not so attractive” but sooooo delicious.
Gazpacho, cold tomato soup, doesn’t sound much but don’t let that put you off. Especially when made with tip top fresh ingredients. How pretty does this look served in a drinking glass?
MEDITERRANEAN DIET – UNESCO LISTED
Being a culture vulture, I always check out the list of UNESCO world heritage sites. Whilst most of the things listed are tangible, bricks and mortar things that you can see, some are intangible. The Mediterranean diet is one of those things. Eating fresh food, lots of vegetables, fish and olive oil is officially a cultural thing. I wasn’t being greedy sampling as much of Catalan cuisine as I could stuff in, I was being cultural.
WHERE TO EAT IN CATALONIA
Where we ate traditional Catalan food, when we visited Costa Barcelona.
- Hotel Gavà Mar, Gavà
- Kauai Gavà Mar, Gavà
- Mirador de les Caves, Subirats
- Càmping bon Repos, Santa Susanna
- La Gula, Mercantic, San Cugat del Vallés
Whilst the food is wonderful in Costa Barcelona, we did much more than just eat to read about how I fell for fast cars at the Circuit de Catalunya and wandered round romanesque cloisters in Sant Cugat del Vallés.