Calçotada aficionados and novices alike, our first calçot fest of the decade kicks off this Saturday, 18th January, at Tapas Brindisa Shoreditch with a vegan feast (carnivores we implore you to try it out, it won't disappoint), enjoy a 3 course menu for £35.
From 25th January onwards it will be business as usual at both Tapas Brindisa Shoreditch and Tapas Brindisa Battersea, simply choose a traditional or vegan menu and enjoy the humble calçot in all its glory every weekend until the end of March.
Enjoy an authentic Catalan Calçotada while calçots are in season.
Our Catalan chef Leo tells us about the tradition of the Calçotada in his family.
"My father has a small orchard between Manresa and Montserrat in Catalunya, where he grows his own Calçots, a member of the onion family that looks something like a cross between a spring onion and a leek.
We pull them up from the earth and cook them on the same day: for us, the Calçotada is always something special, and we always celebrate it outdoors, cooking and eating in the fresh air, unless it is extremely cold. The Calçotada is the Catalan tradition of celebrating this seasonal vegetable in January and February, by barbecuing them and serving them with a Salvitxada or Romesco sauce, made with toasted almonds, grilled tomatoes, ñora peppers, garlic, vinegar, olive oil and bread. My parents actually come from Andalucía, but they have taken on this great Catalan tradition, and of course there is nothing better than eating your own home-grown Calçots!
We pick around 300 Calçots and the five of us manage to eat them all! That´s 60 each, no problem!
First we make a fire, using vine cuttings for wood, left over from pruning surplus branches in the vineyards. We use a special iron Parrilla grill, which holds the Calçots inside and can be opened to take them out when they are ready. Once they are cooked, we wrap them in newspaper - just like fish and chips! This is great because it keeps them really warm. My mum has her own special Romesco sauce recipe - it is legendary in my family and every year she develops it with a new touch. It sometimes even has whisky added or sweet biscuits crumbled in! The sauce we serve at Casa is a more traditional version without these embellishments.
In the embers of the fire, we cook a feast of barbecued meat, especially lamb and Chorizo and toast some bread to finish off the meal. We cook Escalivada in the oven, to serve alongside.
We eat on the patio, tipping our heads back to try to eat the Calçots whole, it is a messy business and by the end, our hands are covered in Romesco and are filthy black from ash! Even the dog (Gizmo) joins in.
Well, this is how we celebrate the Calçotada in my family."