A calçotada is a barbecue meal unique in Catalunya and devoted to a variety of giant spring onion, the calçots.
Richard Eilers, at The Guardian Foodie Traveller, explains this traditional ritual in Catalunya: Groups of friends and family dissolve into giggles and laughter as they gather round tables set out in courtyards, put on silly paper bibs and get down and dirty with a calçot.
First, the fire-blackened outer layer of the onion is pulled away to reveal a juicy white core. Then the tip is dipped into romesco (nut and red pepper sauce) and the dripping calçot is lowered into the mouth in one go. You repeat this two or three dozen times. Do it badly and your face, hands and neck end up a black and red mess. Do it well and, er, it’s about the same.
The town of Valls, near Tarragona, is calçot central. Tens of thousands are wolfed down during an annual festival (31 January this year) devoted to the slippery scallion. Lots of restaurants in the Catalan countryside also do a good calçotada. The season runs from December to April.
The traditional way of cooking calçots is to char them on a grill with plenty of flame, usually outside, so that while the exterior becomes charred, inside they are soft and creamy in texture. The bunches of calçots are then wrapped in newspaper and served directly.
Join us to try those delicious spring onions and learn how to prepare romesco sauce!