Saturday, June 18, 2011

Calcotada Festival

I first saw calcots (cal-sohts), these intriguing spring onions at Barcelona's Mercat de St. Josep, also known as La Boqueria. The way they are grown and eaten is a particular specialty of the region. These onions (allium cepa) were originally grown in the city of Valls, in the province of Tarragona. Planted in the spring, then harvested in summer, the clumps of onions are separated and cellared, replanted in the fall, and then the soil is banked up around the shoots, just like growing white asparagus. This makes for a tender green onion with a thick, tall white neck. The onions are then grilled over a flaming fire, not the steadily glowing coals that are usually used for grilling.

For our Portland Calcotada, chef Scott Ketterman of Simpatica grills the calcots grown by Viridian Farms, using vine clippings from them as well. The exterior of the onion is deeply charred, and then they are served from terra cotta roof tiles with a dipping sauce of romesco or salbitxada, made from chiles, almonds, garlic and tomato.

To eat this messy delicacy, hold the onion up by the green tops and peel downward toward the root, wiping away all the charred exterior. Dip the tender, steamed white into the sauce and slurp them down with your favorite Spanish wines. Our celebration included drinking from the festive porron, a wine pitcher designed for pouring wine directly into your mouth, grilled butifarra sausages, and mongetes (Catalan white beans). We happened to be sitting next to some enthusiastic Catalonian's that made it feel all the more like we were in Spain for a day.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah! Those are pretty delicious. My father usually makes a few heads when we are barbecuing. I totally love it!

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