If you have never been to a calçotada, it’s about time you did. This seasonal celebration of the calçot hails from Spain’s Catalan region, where locals celebrate the humble allium with much merriment and greed every year. I first learned of it from Rachel McCormack, who brought the tradition to London when she organised a calçotada at The Draper’s Arms a few years ago.
The calçot is a variety of spring onion much like those we have here, but the difference is in the growing – the calçot is earthed up as it grows, resulting in an extended white bulb with a shorter green top.
For calçotada the onions are cooked on a hot charcoal grill, briefly wrapped in paper to steam (which softens the outer layer) and then served to the table with romesco sauce – made with red peppers, almonds and hazelnuts, garlic, oil and nyora (a small, round red bell pepper that has been sun dried). Diners (usually bibbed) peel away the blackened outer layer of the calçot, dip the end in romesco and then tip up their heads and lower the calçot into their mouths.
This is not dainty dining!
Calçots are followed with generous plates of grilled meats and sausages, and if you have any space left, a traditional Catalan dessert. I’m not going to admit in public how many calçots, lamb chops, chistorra (spicy sausages) and butifarra (fat pork sausages) I ate but let’s just say I definitely didn’t leave hungry!
At Rosita & The Sherry Bar near Clapham Junction, the calçots are in season right now and you have two opportunities to join the calçotada, on Thursday 26th February & Wednesday 11th March.
For £35 per person, you can enjoy a set menu of olives, almonds, crispy aubergine to start, before calçots and romesco sauce followed by a selection from the grill – chistorra, lamb chops, Iberian pork presa and pork ribs (in place of the butifarra I had). On the side, chunky chips and little gem salad with pickled tuna. To finish, crema Catalana with cinnamon ice cream. Wash that all down with ½ bottle of cava Vilarnau rose per person – we tried drinking it from traditional porrón (pitchers).
Event details: Thursday 26th February & Wednesday 11th March 2015. Menu price £35pp. Payment will be required at the time of booking. Book via the Rosita website or ring 020 7998 9093. Full calçotada menu can be viewed on website.
Kavey Eats attended the calçotada as a guest of Rosita & The Sherry Bar.