Best Villages in Umbria
There are many ways you can describe the region of Umbria : beautiful, historic, lush, verdant, mysterious. The list goes on.Read more
Catalonia is as much a Spanish region as it is a Catalan one! This autonomous region is extremely passionate about its language, culture, history…and food! A Catalan table is indeed a crowded one with exciting plates of meat and seafood in deliciously cooked sauces. Seasonal harvests are often celebrated with parties solely dedicated to the food itself. For example, calçotadas is thrown for calçots (local green onions) when they ripen in winter and sardinadas for sardines when they are caught in summer. Sourced locally and fresh to taste, the cuisine in Catalonia is one of the highlights of cycling here.
The well-renowned Catalan food writer, Joseph Pla, once said “A country’s cuisine is its landscape in a pot” and this couldn’t be truer for Catalan food. With the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees Mountains sitting side by side, regional dishes are widely varied. The cuisine is characterised by exotic combinations of succulent coastal seafood mixed with hearty produce from inner farmlands. Take, for example, chicken with langoustine, meatballs with cuttlefish or even squid stuffed with minced pork. Their unique and rich flavours make Catalan cuisine one of a kind and people flock to Catalonia from all over the world just to have a taste. So, to help guide you on your journey cycling through this beautiful region, we’ve put together a list of seven dishes you have to try in Catalonia.
Mar I Muntanya, literally meaning sea and mountains in Catalan, epitomises the gastronomic blend of seafood with delicious mountain produce. A mixture of braised chicken and juicy langoustines is cooked in a tomato-based broth enhanced by traditional Catalan picada – a flavourful paste made from ground garlic, parsley and almonds. This unusual but perfectly balanced variety of tastes makes it a popular food order amongst locals and tourists and will be found on most restaurants' menus.
Named after the town of Olot, where they were originally invented, Patatas d’Olot (Olot Potatoes) are the perfect snack to keep you energised whilst you pedal through the lush countryside. Olot sits in the national park of Garrotxa and you’ll get a chance to visit this area on our tour so make sure to grab a couple of Patatas d’Olot as you pass through. Although they look like pastries, they are gorgeously crisp, roasted potatoes filled with divinely seasoned minced meat. Bite through a crunchy exterior to find a scrumptiously soft inner filling. Both tasty and pleasing in texture, Patatas d’Olot are a must-try when in Catalonia.
Suquet de Piex, or fish soup, is a typical seafood dish served in Catalonia and Valencia consisting of prawns and monkfish cooked in a rich tomato sauce and paired with bread, garlic, pepper, onion and potatoes. Like many traditional dishes, Suquet de Piex has evolved from a much simpler version of itself cooked by fisherman to quench their desperate hunger after a long day fishing. Using their nets to make a fish stock, they would boil a fish that was meant to be discarded with some potatoes to make a delightful fish stew. Today the dish is a lot more elaborate, but you can guarantee the fish is just as fresh and even more delicious.
Another dish for fish lovers, Anchoas de l’Escala, consists of anchovies elegantly laid in organic extra virgin olive oil. The anchovy is an oily fish that is symbolic of a Mediterranean diet and is much loved across the whole of Spain. In this dish, however, the anchovies themselves are specially picked from the town of l’Escala, in the province of Girona. They are renowned across Catalonia for their wonderful tenderness and strong, dry salty flavour. Traditionally, they are eaten alone as a starter or used to complement Mediterranean salads.
The king prawns from Palamós are famous throughout Spain and are a prized product worldwide for their size, amazing flavour and texture. A fine-dining delicacy in other areas, in Catalonia they are found in abundance. Palamós prawns are distinguishable for their deep red colour and very sweet flavour, the result of the pristine environment in which the shrimps live. In local restaurants, you will find them served from the grill and cooked in a tiny bit of salt, pepper and olive oil. As you cycle down to Palamós you’ll have the chance to try these treasured prawns for yourself!
Botifarra Dulce will probably be one of the most unique, yet appetizing dishes you’ve ever tasted. Its translation of sweet sausage says it all! The dish contains only sweet products: a sweet-tasting sausage covered in sugar, cinnamon and lemon served on a crunchy toasted biscuit, wrapped in pastry or accompanying thin slices of fruit such as apple. Much like marmite – you’ll either love it or hate it!
An adapted version of the traditional Spanish tortilla, Tortilla Payesa contains a variety of fresh vegetables grown in Girona. Very similar to the classic Spanish tortilla, however, the secret to this dish is added red and green peppers and tomatoes. With vegetables of the highest quality mixed with potatoes, egg and onions, Tortilla Payesa has a lovely blend of textures and is loaded with flavour. A very popular order for lunch and the perfect meal to satisfy your appetite.
For more information about our tours of Catalonia, give us a call on 020 7471 7760, or alternatively, view our Catalonia cycling holidays here.
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