Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Salsa de calçots!

I love cooking, and I love trying out new recipes from different countries. And well, right now as I am living in Spain, there's quite a lot of Spanish recipes passing by my kitchen.

This old Catalan salsa goes superwell with 
calçots (obviously) but also very nice with meat and fish and can be used as a marinade or simply on the side.

I got this recipe for Salsa de 
calçots, so if anyone's interested, here goes! You need this: 

Pictures: almonds hazelnuts, pimiento choricero, oil&vinegartomatoes saltMarie biscuit

 2 Marie-biscuits (or toasted bread) 
1 "pimiento choricero"
100g toasted almonds
30g toasted hazelnuts
0,8 dl. olive oil
5 tomatoes
1 garlic

You start off with the pimiento choricero, (I had to Google it)... a kind of long Spanish pepper. And it needs to be dried. 

You cut it in two, take out the seeds and put the skin in water for about 6 hours. It will soften and then you can scrape off the pulp to use it in the sauce. 
I am thinking that if you don't have any dried peppers at hand, which might be the case many places outside of Spain, you can oven-bake the peppers and then scrape off the pulp when it's tender. (But please don't tell anyone I said so, I am sure it's not allowed.)

Then you take the tomatoes. You put them on a baking tray, they're headed for the oven to bake. You also take a whole garlic, cut of the bottom of it (so that you can see all the cloves, this will make it easier later when you need to separate them.) Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil and put it in the oven with the tomatoes at 180 degrees C. The tomatoes are done after about 20 minutes and the garlic after an additional 10-20 minutes. 

When all this is ready, it’s time to make salsa! The now soft pimientos choriceros are taken out of the water and the pulp is scraped from the skin and the tomatoes are peeled and lightly chopped. Add pimientos and tomatoes to a food processor/blender with the almonds and the hazelnuts. Further, you add 4 (or more, depending on preference) baked garlic cloves and two Marie biscuits (or a slice of toasted bread). Add some salt, a little bit of vinegar and the olive oil. Blend for a couple of minutes and voila, you have delicious salsa de calçots!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

My first Calçotada!

This was so much fun! And delicious!

In my last post, I wrote an introduction to Calçots and yesterday I was lucky to be at one.

There are a few restaurants in Barcelona that serves calçots, but I think the best and more authentic way is a calçotada enjoyed outside. More rustic and messy! I don’t see white tablecloths fitting into this…

I was so happy to find this Calçotada Popular in the city of Barcelona. Basically a mini Festa de Valls where us city people got to enjoy a real Calçotada. There were stands with degustations of local wines, cavas, oranges & mandarins, sausages and cheeses. There was entertainment Valls-style and the weather was gorgeous. 

A couple of the degustration-stands:

There was a “calçots-field” as a demonstration to see how the calçots are grown, and apparently they start by planting onions. A few months later, in February/March the sprouts are transplanted from the seedbed to the fields, where in April-June they grow into soft onions. In July, they are taken up and set to dry. Then in August/September the dried onions are re-planted, to become calçots. To help speed up the process they cut off the top of the onion to give way for the sprouts. In October/November they will bud once again, and in December to April the ready calçots are harvested. 

The calçots are ready to be grilled! The firewood used should be branches from Olive-trees or wineyards. 

Fire is on!

The ready ones are taken off the fire: 

One of these guys; gloves? Naah.... The calçots are just coming straight off the open fire...

The ones who are burnt enough, are packed in newspaper:

... and the ones that are not quite burnt enough are put back on the fire...

...with some more firewood...

The calçots are ready! While waiting in line for my own portion, I had fun looking at the people eating. Trying to learn how to not make a complete mess... (Didn't succeed all that much though, 
then again, it's supposed to be messy!) 

One thing I loved about this, is that absolutely all ages and generations are present and enjoying it.So nice. I think old people get out and enjoy life more than back in Norway, and I love that! 
(I am sure weather is a key factor here...)

Tam tam! Finally it's my turn!

The carbonized layer is esaily pulled off and the soft, creamy core of the calçot 
is dipped in Salsa de calçots and eaten. Yum!

What was served with this calçotada was 12 calçots per person, a glass of red wine, 
a glass of calçot-sauce, an orange, and a bag of hazelnuts. 

I have saved the entertainment part of the calçotada for another post as this one is already quite long. But coming up: Human towers! And I might pull out a recipe for the Salsa de calçots!

Friday, February 24, 2012


Now, this is a Catalan tradition I am looking forward to experiencing myself !Every year, from end of October to beginning of April you can go for Calçotadas. What’s it about? 
Small sweet spring onions/leek’s.

They are the key figure of this feast famous all over Catalunya, here in North-East Spain. Just that?, I asked. It seemed a bit … poor? But I have been assured it’s not. The calçots, which are some kind of crossing between spring onions and leeks, are grilled. Then you pull off the burnt, outside layer, dip the whole thing in a red delicious sauce, hold it up over your mouth and eat it, just like that. No plates. No cutlery. It’s messy and super tasty. (So I’ve been told.) If it’s done properly, the outer layer will be carbonized, and the core of the leek will be sweet, soft and creamy.

You can eat the calçots just like that with the sauce, accompanied by some delicious wine from the area, but often it’s served with a big parrillada de carne, a mix of different grilled meat.

In the little town Valls, there is a big fiesta dedicated to the calçots, ”Gran Festa de Calçotada” every year in January where all the farmers come out with their calçots to get them evaluated, there are eating competitions, degustation, a local food market, entertainment Catalan style, and this event gathers up to 40000 visitors (population of the town is 25000). Found a video on youtube from last year's Gran
Festa de Calçotada:

In the smaller towns around Catalunya you will find plenty of places, masias mostly, that offer calçotadas, not so much in Barcelona. But I have seen a few restaurants here that offer menus with calçots. 

Although I missed the  Gran Festa de Calçotada in Valls, I have a Calçotada planned for this weekend and I am looking forward to it! 

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ikea is more than furniture!

For me, at this point I am not so interested in the furniture part of Ikea, the interior/kitchen/decor-part is handy, economic and nice, but the best of all is definitely the food, my friends, the food! (There is a chance this only applies if you are Scandinavian abroad and longing for familiar food, but that is my case so here goes!)

Spanish food is so different from Norwegian/Scandinavian food on so many levels, and although I am not going to make this post about Spanish food, (which I love, I can post about that later), there are just a few things I miss that doesn't really exist here, or are so different. And to be able to go to Ikea to get some of it is worth its weight of gold!

First things first. There are two Ikea's just outside Barcelona, one in Badalona and one in l'Hopitalet. The latter is easier to reach with public transport, so that's where I've been. 

From Plaza Espanya you get onto a bus or a train from FGC (Ferrocarils de la Generalitat de Cataluya), jump off at the third stop (less than 5 minutes) at "Europa-Fira" and then it's just a couple minutes walk, and it's this building here: 

The first thing you meet when entering is actually the fast-food-joint Ikea-style! Their menu is limited but has just enough; coffee, soft drinks, icecream (soft-is) salmon wraps and real hotdogs (wiener-pølse i brød) with the right ketchup, the right mustard and crispy fried onion. Just like it should be. I haven't seen the fried onions here at all, and the Spanish ketchup and mustard taste different. Funnily enough, I don't usually eat hotdogs, but here/now I really like them....

Then just after you pass the hotdogs you'll find the shop. The "Ikea supermarket". Fabulous! They have a frozen section with pizza, meat-balls, "Christmas-ham", more hotdogs, breads and different cakes. 

Then there is a fresh section with cheeses, salmon, caviar etc.

Then you have the "dry section" with biscuits, chocolate, bread-mix, marmalade, pasta... Thankfully lots of my dear "knekkebrød", crisp rye bread

Moose-shaped pasta anyone?

Ah, and there is a drinks-section! Here you can find Gløgg, cider, syrups and juices

Lovely lovely!

On the second floor of the warehouse there is a restaurant, with among other things, a "Viking-menu" haha.

Lets just say that my relationship to Ikea has become a lot stronger and I think it will continue to grow while I'm here. Thank you Ingvar Kamprad! (The founder of Ikea who started his business as a 17 year old in 1943. Today Ikea is employing about 130 000  people in 31 countries.) I'm grateful they have reached Spain!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Old Tarraco, “New” Tarragona - a UNESCO world heritage site

Tarraco was the ancient name of the city now called Tarragona. During the Roman empire, it was one of the major cities of the Iberian Peninsula in the Roman province called Hispana Citerior. (One of the largest archaeological sites of Roman Hispania preserved in Spain today.)
In 2000 the archaeological ensemble of Tarraco was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

A city with quite the history in other words. And it’s not bad at all being able to jump on a southbound train from big Barcelona and after a short 1-1,5 hours arrive to this beautiful little city. 

The main attraction is the Tarragona Amphitheatre, from 2nd century AD. The amphitheatre could house up to 15,000 spectators, and measured 130 x 102 m. (Source & read more here if interested)

And there are more Roman ruins...

A sundial 

A cathedral, from the 12th - 13th centuries, with a mix of Romanesque and Gothic architectural elements.

It’s a historic, beautiful city with several museums and sights. A long sandy beach decorates the length of the city and can be seen from big parts of the city, since it’s built on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean. Tarragona is located on what’s called the “Costa dorada”, the golden coast, and offers beaches in a stretch of about 211 km from Cunit to Les Cases d’Alcanar. 

There is a big "normal" park just outside the historical part of town, and then there is a huge amusement park some 10km outside the city, Port Aventura, and word is it's the biggest amusement park in Spain.  

And last but not least, the city centre is so cute and lovely. Old cobbled streets and small town atmosphere.

Ryanair fly into Reus, which is just outside of Tarragona. They call it one of the "Barcelona"-airports, although it's not in Barcelona (well, it's Ryanair...) but if you fly into Reus on your way to Barcelona, I'd say it's worth it to spend a day or two here too.

Friday, February 17, 2012


My sentiment exactly!

Me, the mediterranean, the sound of the waves.

Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lolita Bakery, Barcelona

Ooooh the joy when I found this suddenly in one of those narrow street of the Gothic Quarter/Born. It was a Sunday night, more or less everything was closed, and when the small shops close in Barcelona they pull down a metal blind sort of thing (no idea what it’s called in English..grid?) to cover the whole facade of the shop and normally when closed you can’t see what kind of business is in there.

So, there I was, walking down one of these streets, it was raining and cold and the streets were almost empty and everything was closed, when this little star brightened up the whole street. Lolita bakery! Mmm!

I will admit that I have been missing bakeries like this one. The standard Spanish bakeries are more about croissants and variations with that same base; napolitanas, palmeras etc. But I have been missing real CAKE. Cupcakes and cookies, layer cake and brownies, just like we have quite the tradition of eating back up in Norway. And here it was. Full of colourful cupcakes in all sorts of flavours. American style layer-cake, cookies and brownies. The smell that hits you when you enter is an assurance that the goodies are home baked- ahhhh!

I’ll let the pictures talk…

I tried a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting, walnut brownie and some berry cheesecake. I am not one for cheesecake, I prefer chocolate and fluffy cake, but my friend said the cheesecake tasted like real cheesecake should. The brownie was wonderful, with real chocolate taste. The cupcake however was a little bit disappointing, the cake itself didn’t taste much at all, but the frosting made up for it, it was lovely. I will for sure come back and try some of the other cupcakes. After all, when a girl finally finds a place that might satisfy her cake appetite, she’s not gonna let one bad cupcake-experience ruin it!

What the cupcake lacked in taste, I might dare say the surroundings made up for. The place is super cute, and I am sorry I forgot to take pictures of the place itself, I was too busy drooling over all the cakes!

Apparently there are two of these in town, one in Born area, at C/Portal Nou 20 and the other one in Eixample area, at C/Provenca 267. I’ll let you know when I’ve checked out the other one too!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Feliz día de San Valentin

"Everyone" is posting about Valentines day, and I didn't have plans to do it. In Norway it isn't such a big deal and this day have no special meaning to me at all. But then I had a walk in the centre and the love really was all around and I gave in, so here's a little piece of Valentines day in Barcelona!

Desigual was handing out heart baloons and they were aaaall over town after. It added some extra colour on this  grey day!

Happy Valentines day to those who do celebrate! And please, tell me how you celebrate where you are, cause I have no clue but would love to know!