What is a real Calçotada about?
Preparing Romesco sauce at home
Putting on a very big bib
Eating calçots together with your hands – this takes a bit of practice and is the fun part
Drinking a glass of wine
Grilling quite a bit of meat after
The cultivation of calçots has its own rules. The onion is planted at the end of the year and the entire growing process consists mainly of replanting the calçot a few times. The calçot can be harvested almost a year later, around November. A couple of weeks later the real calçotadas season starts, with a peak towards the end of January when the Gran Festa de la Calçotada is celebrated in Valls, and lasts until the end of April.
A calçot has a very special preparation. First the calçot is grilled and flambéed until the bottom part of the calçot turns black. The calçots are then wrapped in a newspaper in twenty to thirty pieces, to keep the calçots warm for half an hour. After thirty minutes they can be eaten, but of course not before the blackened part has been peeled off. Here you need to practice a little.
The calçot is almost always eaten with a special orange calçot sauce: the romesco. Every family, especially in Valls and surroundings, prepares the calço sauce theirselves and have a secret recipe. That also applies to the chefs in restaurants. Fortunately, the calçot sauce is also available in the supermarket. Casa Amattler for example sells good quality sauce.
The Calçotada is above all also a social tradition, a real folk festival. Sometimes it is organized by the municipality, as is the case in the cradle of the calçot, Valls. You can also choose to organize a calçotada yourself. Outside Barcelona you will find picnic spots where you can keep a calçotada, or in your garden.
One such place is Font Les Planes. Travel on a beautiful Sunday in March with the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya to Les Planes, a few stations outside of Barcelona. On the grounds of this restaurant are dozens of grills to barbecue with friends and family. For ten euros you have a table and permission to grill. In the meantime music is being made, shouted, shouted, chatted, drunk and of course mainly eaten.
Tradition dictates that the calçots are eaten while standing up. In addition to calçots, pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomato) is also served and potatoes, artichokes and sausages are grilled on the charcoal that remains after grilling the calçots. This whole “eatery” is of course accompanied by the necessary liters of alcohol: preferably a vino.
If you prefer not to get black hands, you can of course choose to eat calçots in a restaurant. This is less authentic and more expensive, but more hygienic and, because the calçot has such a typical preparation, also tastier. If you want to eat real calçots, you obviously have to go to Valls, but also in and near Barcelona you can find good restaurants where calçots are on the menu. Be on time, because the calçotadas season really ends at the end of April.