Catalonia’s Famous Onion Festival Arrives: The Calçotada

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Catalonia’s Famous Onion Festival Arrives: The Calçotada
Photo Val Sonia Valles clots)

Catalonia is heating up, quite literally, for the Gran Fiesta de la Calçotada', an annual winter festival and barbecue feast devoted to the Calçot (a type of green onion from Catalonia, somewhere between a spring onion and a leek, see image below).

Whilst the regional onion harvest takes place over several months, between November and April, the one day festival will be held on 31st January in the capital of Calçot, Valls. The streets and squares will fill with festivities and onion lovers will take part in a traditional feast in honour of the pungent vegetable.

Participants can get involved in any number of popular calcot related competitions including: parades, demonstrations of copper grilled onions, growers contests, sauce making, onion eating, tastings and even a national dog show, but the real draw is for onion lovers to get their fill of the freshly barbecued vegetable.

Photo: Sonia Valles clots (Valls - Festival Calçotada)

Traditional Calcot Cooking and Eating Method:

The calçots are cooked over open fires, usually in the streets, until blackened when the outer layer of the onion can be stripped away to reveal a juicy white core. The tip of the onion is then dipped into romesco (a traditional nut and red pepper) sauce and carefully dangled into an open mouth in one go. They are usually wolfed down standing up and wearing a bib, in what is an unavoidably messy eating business.

Tens of thousands of the tasty onions are usually devoured during the annual festival, where a professional will happily polish off 25-30 Calçots at one sitting, or standing. Meat eaters needn't fear as there will be mountains of grilled meat to follow and porró, a traditional unwieldy glass pitcher of red wine, to wash it all down with.

Calçots are cooked over open flames in the street until chargrilled and ready for eating:

Photo: Sonia Valles clots (Valls - Festival Calçotada)

Making the traditional Romesco sauce:

Photo: Sonia Valles clots (Valls - Festival Calçotada)

Eating the Calçot is a messy business that usually requires standing up and wearing a bib!

Photo: Sonia Valles clots (Valls - Festival Calçotada)

Head to the website for more details as well as information on other participating restaurants and hotels throughout the region.

What Gran Fiesta de la Calçotada
When 31.01.2016
Where Valls, Catalonia, Spain

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