The eating season of Calçots starts in the middle of January and lasts until the end of April. Calçots is a particular variety of baby leek. Catalonian restaurants in Barcelona offer a special calçots menu but the main calçots festival is taking place in Valls, where people are heading to, especially from all over Catalonia.
This is one of the most outstanding gastronomic festivals in Catalonia. In the main square of the city centre, there are tables with calçots, crowded with gourmet and food enthusiasts. A beauty contest of the harvest takes place. Next to that, there are tables with ingredients for Romesco sauce, i.e. garlic, tomatoes, nuts (almonds or hazelnuts), parsley, vinegar, dry spicy pepper, olive oil. The sauce is usually prepared by hand grinding the ingredients.
The process of cooking the leeks has not changed from year to year, and the ceremony is antique like the ritual itself. Bunches of leeks are barbequed over flaming vines for 10-15 minutes. The result is amazingly delicious calçots.
The eating process is very entertaining. All participants get special chest covers to avoid staining. On the tables, you can see Romesco sauce, fresh white bread and red wine in a jug with a long spout – Porrons… Firstly, you should remove the top burnt layer from the calçots, dip the juicy and soft green part of your leek into the sauce, then eat.
Drink some wine. (And then some more wine).
Meat and traditional sausages are cooked and consumed here as well. (Not exactly vegan paradise, but they could look the other way)
Of course, all the action is accompanied by music and a procession of giant puppets, street entertainment and contests – the most popular of them is “Who can eat the most calcots.” Local restaurants offer regional products in different interpretations – butifarra Negra and local cheese!
Valls, by the way, is itself an interesting place to visit over the weekend with over 24000 citizens and located in Tarragona’s province. We’d say, although it’s tiny it has that local charm, especially during authentic holidays you’d never ever hear about being in any other country.
Last Sunday of every January.
See you at Calçotada in Valls!