Sampling the local gastronomy is, besides being a cultural event, a pleasure to the senses. Catalonian cuisine is emblematic of the Mediterranean diet, employing that essential staple, olive oil, in garnishing and cooking the freshest ingredients the land and sea have to offer.
These are the basis of what is known as “cuina de mercat”, an elaboration of fresh products from the marketplace’s seasonal offerings. Throughout the year, the most typical dishes are “calçots” (tender charbroiled green onions) in springtime, wild mushrooms in autumn, and “escudella” (a gently simmered mixture of meats and vegetables, including soup from their broth) during the winter.
Mouthwatering “pa amb tomàquet” (crunchy bread with squeezed tomato pulp), local cured meats and the inevitable “paella” rice dish can be found in just about any eatery. A special mention must be made about those savory tidbits, “tapas”, which have become fashionable for partaking in an informal and light dinner, accompanied by a glass of exquisite red or white wine.
Among the most typical desserts to try are the Catalonian version of crème brulée (crema catalana) or “mel i mató” (cottage cheese drizzled with honey).
In Barcelona, foreign specialty and exotic restaurants exist together with the more classical and popular style eateries that faithfully follow traditional cuisine, often with an innovative and creative personal touch by the chef. The best conclusion to any superb repast is a toast with the renowned Catalonian champagne called “cava”.