Finding a new foodie opportunity is never hard in the Catalonian region, not even during the winter months. Something new to consider trying while in the area is the traditional and seasonal calçot. Calçots are a unique onion-like food found at Catalan winter barbecues and along many streets during local festivals known as Calçotadas.
The seasonal vegetable is similar to a scallion, leek, or green onion yet much milder in flavor than an onion and longer in size. Known to be a native of Valls, Tarragona, the tender vegetable was created over a century ago by a Catalan farmer. Celebrated for months throughout the year, usually from January until April, calçots are commonly a large part of any winter celebration.
In celebration of the Catalan delicacy, festivities are held each year at the start of the calçot season. These festivals are known as Calçotadas and take place in the streets of Valls and other popular Catalan neighborhoods. The kickoff begins in late January with a parade, tastings, cook-offs, live music, and other fun activities for all ages to enjoy. While joy is being spread, the calçots are grilled over flaming barbecues and wrapped in newspaper to increase tenderness. Traditionally, the calçots are then served on terra-cotta roof tiles to keep them warm. After peeling away the charred outer layer you can enjoy the tender bulbs dipped in a special Salvitxada sauce - a rich and nutty romesco sauce.
While this may sound like enough street food for one day, this is merely the beginning at any Calçotada. The next course to be enjoyed is usually a platter of traditional grilled meats and vegetables. Followed by dessert, of course no one walks away from a calçotada festival hungry!