Contrary to popular belief, Miss W is not averse to getting her hands dirty. As much as I enjoy a manicure and a lavish dollop of hand cream whenever possible, there are occasions where I’m happy to muck in there and get amongst it. ‘Get amongst what?’ I can hear you thinking. Is it pottery? Gardening? Finger-painting perhaps?
No, this is something, had you explained it to me a week ago, I may have shied away from, however you live and learn, you shouldn’t knock it until you try it and I’m here to tell the tale.
I’ll just get on with it then, shall I?
On a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon, Miss W and the White-ettes, with Little Miss Mini-White in tow headed to the rustic surrounds of San Juan Agroturismo Ca n’Escandell to sample a much-loved Catalan gastronomic tradition – the Calçotada.
Translating literally to Onion Feast, the calçotada is an homage to the succulent, lush and sweet green onions known as calçots, a cross between a leek and a spring onion, sporting long pale stems and ripe for the picking at the very end of winter.
Judging by the mouth-watering smell in the air, one could literally follow their nose to find where the action was taking place. Just past the pool was a l-o-n-g makeshift BBQ, where sizzling away on top were hundreds of bunches of calçots.
Once blackened to a crisp, each bunch was individually wrapped in newspaper, fish and chip style and taking their place on the grill was an assortment of meat and sausages. The combination of the delicious smell wafting through the air and the sun shining on her face left Miss W feeling like summer had already arrived.
Once we were seated, the friendly and informal style of dining meant grabbing your own parcel of calçots – and this is where getting messy begins – and digging in. After a quick demonstration, it was all systems go for the White-ettes, pinching the root of the charred onion to pull out the soft centre, dipping it in Romesco sauce (a tasty blend of roasted tomatoes, hot peppers, almonds, hazelnuts, vinegar, garlic, paprika and a lot of love according to Cristina Escandell) then tipping our heads back, taking aim and praying to the gods of fashion that it doesn’t end up all over your Miu Miu sweater! De-lish!
THE GOOD: If you are spending the weekend at Ca n’Escandell, the Calçotada is included as part of your stay. Thankfully for the rest of the Ibiza population, the public is invited to join in the fun every Saturday from now until the onions run out in April.
THE BAD: On one charcoal encrusted hand, getting dirty is all part of the process. On the other, it wouldn’t hurt to have some bowls of lemon water on the table to help clean up afterwards and avoid accidental black smears all over your clothing and face!
THE GOSSIP: Miss W was afraid of having onion breath, however the sweetness of calçots means you don’t even need a tic-tac. However, vegetarians beware! While the onion part of this tradition is very veg-friendly, the following main course is purely carnivore based. Our advice? Skip straight to the dessert and the accompanying Cava and Café Caleta.