March 27, 2012 - Posted by Erin in Food and wine, Spain, Travel, Travels in Europe, Travels in Spain

Pueblos, rivers, art, bla bla bla. Let’s get to the really important stuff: the Catalán food. Am I right?

Remember that first day in Girona? We schlepped up, down and all around town. I adored that city, but wow it made me hungry. And thank goodness for that because, unbeknown to me, a nine-course meal awaited. Allow me to share with you the highlight of that lovely dinner: this little treasure on a plate below.

See, I’ve never liked artichokes. On several occasions I’ve re-tried them, convinced that I’ve been mistaken – after all, they seem like something I should like. But alas, every time I give them another chance, my taste buds say no. This time, however, a tender artichoke heart resting on a bed of sweet sobressada (a Catalonian sausage often served as a spread), finally seduced me into not just liking the once off-limits veggie, but falling passionately in love with it. I rode that artichoke-high through all nine plates – from the deconstructed tortilla española, to the jamón ravioli, and fusion patatas bravas.

I rose the following morning still dangerously full from the night before. But one overcomes such obstacles when faced with a giant brick of sugar-encrusted bread, called coca. Tell me who could possibly resist this? I wanted to nestle it under my arm and gnaw away at the squishy dough for the rest of the day (I didn’t, but I seriously thought about it).

Still digesting the coca (and plotting how to get my hands on another baguette), we arrived at a bodega-topped mountain blanketed with rows upon rows of dry vines. The sun blazed outside and a fire blazed inside, where we feasted on homemade butifarra (Catalonian sausage), anchovy pinchos, pan con tomate (bread with tomato), and a steaming stew of alubias blancas (white beans), all washed down with a range of wine from the Martín Faixó vineyards that surrounded us. Good thing we were up on a hill because really, after that meal, I just needed to be rolled back home.

At this point, I’d probably already done enough feasting to last me until early fall, but low and behold, another massive meal was in store – dinner by chef Lee Pennington at our hilltop villa in Cadaqués. Among the favorites: toothpick-pierced cubes of membrillo (similar to jam) and queso fresco (a light cheese), and a dessert of chocolate truffles made with olives (sounds weird, but it was all sorts of delicious).

A tortilla española here, a paella there, and a few days later the gastro madness came to a close. But not before snacking on these little pastries below – one of which was even filled – yes FILLED – with chocolate.

Oh yeah, and one more culinary adventure still remains – the famous calçotada and all its onion-burning glory….but you’ll still have to wait to hear more about that.

Disclosure: I traveled through Catalonia as a guest of Charming Villas Catalonia. Rest assured that I’m keeping it real – all opinions are entirely my own.

9 Responses to “Catalonia – the culinary highlights”

  1. Nancy Todd Says:

    Oh, great pics, and I want to run to the nearest bakery!

  2. EurotripTips Says:

    Food in Catalonia is definitely the highlight of my trip – as much as I loved visiting the villages and relaxing in the villas, nothing beats the high my taste buds were on for a week! I also enjoyed the artichokes even though I don’t like them usually, as well as the delicious lunch at Perafita. I discovered the goat cheese and even made a quick stop at the grocery store before I left so I could take some home! YUM.

  3. Erin Says:

    Those artichokes converted us both – they were AMAZING! So glad to hear that you finally ended up getting some cheese to take back too. Yum is right!

  4. Jacobo Says:

    Awesome trip, awesome food I have to say. Gracias Tortuga!

  5. Kaley [Y Mucho Más] Says:

    Coca — Mario’s mom buys this! Mmmm so good.

    I am so jealous of almost everything you ate! Coca, pan con tomate, queso fresco con membrillo, and definitely the artichokes! Food envy right here. Counting down the days until I can eat salchichon, fresh bread, and membrillo again!

  6. Erin Says:

    Which begs the question – when will you finally be in Madrid? Hope to see you soon!

  7. Sabrina Says:

    I missed your food posts 🙂 This all looks sooooo delicious! My favorites are the sweets. Sugar-encrusted bread? Oh my! But the chocolaty goodness in your last pic really makes me hungry!!

  8. Mel Says:

    I am SOOO looking forward to my introduction to Spanish food when I’ll come to visit 🙂 This looks delicious!!

  9. Erin Says:

    You must come visit and eat your way through this country! The food is AMAZING!

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