One of the most renowned Catalan cultural traditions is a gastronomic phenomenon in the region surrounding Barcelona. No calçotada is complete without the typical sweet char-grilled spring onions known as ‘calçots,’ and mountains of grilled meat and sausages. Add some red wine to help wash it all down and you have understood the basics of the Catalan way of life in the coldest months of the year. From January until April, the region surrounding Barcelona hosts this winter food festival. Find the best spots to participate in the Catalan onion craze, or learn how to throw your own calçot gig.
Recipe for a successful calçotada
If there is one thing you should know about the Catalan idea of a successful calçotada, it is that it often involves a certain degree of fun (and inebriation). One of the biggest stereotypes surrounding the Catalan people is the idea that they can be quite highly-strung and not as relaxed as some of their Southern counter-parts. Clearly, their critics have never been to any of the local festivals. The atmosphere at a calçotada goes a long way to reveal the warm, fun-loving nature of the Catalans. When planning the perfect calçotada one of the first things you need to know is that without a grill you won’t get very far. Whenever possible, the preferred method, and most traditional one, is for the calçots to be grilled over an open fire fueled with sarmientos de viñedo. These grapevine clippings give an extra special flavor to the calçots and the accompanying meat and vegetables. If sarmientos are not available, organic charcoal will also do perfectly fine.\
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Starting with the grill
When the grill is ready, it’s time to cook the calçots until they are nicely charred and just starting to turn black on the outside. Once they’re cooked, they are wrapped in newspaper, just like Fish & Chips, and then kept in a box and left to rest for about 40 minutes. This leaves just enough time to grill the artichokes, which are typically served alongside the calçots as the first course of the meal. ¡Bon Profit! The next round follows, it’s time for typical grilled meats. This round includes beef, pork chops, lamb chops, but also butifarra, the most delicious of classic Catalan sausages. Don’t forget to keep hydrated during this indulgent meal! Tradition tells us to favor wine, drunk from a porrón, a glass bottle which resembles a small watering can (and can in some instances serve a similar purpose!). To use the porrón, simply pour it straight into your mouth, replacing the need for a glass. Beginners start with the spout quite close to their mouth, and as their technical skill progresses, the distance gets bigger. As the meal progresses, you may find yourself speaking a more fluid kind of Catalan. Don’t miss this great opportunity to find out for yourself what great sense of humor Catalans have.
Insiders’ favorite calçotada spots
Calçots are hard to miss during the winter food festivals, but that does not make it easy to find the local calçotada gems. In the past decades, Barcelona has become one of Europe’s most appreciated travel destinations. The citizens of such well-traveled cities enjoy sharing a great deal of their riches with travelers. Deep in their heart, however, the Catalan people would love to keep some of their most treasured traditions a secret. And aren’t those elements of a culture the ones we want to explore most? The Catalan people knew it would be impossible to keep such fun events to themselves. Therefore, they decided to share their gastronomic gems with passionate passersby.
Where to find calçotada spots
It is possible to find places to celebrate the beloved calçot inside Barcelona, but it is recommended to try one of the barbecues in the countryside. Near Tarragona, you will find the town of Valls, home to the Calçotada Festival in January. In the whole Catalan region, calçots grow in the forests and national parks. Lots of families and restaurants in the countryside grow and harvest their own calçots. All the more reason to choose the rural area for your (first) calçotada experience. In Masmolets, a small village surrounded by green fields, vineyards and the Catalan mountains, you will find Cal Ganxo. This restaurant offers an unforgettable and authentic calçotada, inspired on the original recipe from Grandma Cisqueta de Cal Ganxo. Another option is setting up your own calçotada at Torrent de Can Collserola in the Collserola Natural Park, located a 30-minute drive from Barcelona. This is one of the most popular public barbecue spots around Barcelona. It has already been mentioned that the countryside is the preferable location for a calçotada. But if you do want to stay inside Barcelona, you should check out Can Cortada, an authentic Catalan farmhouse restaurant. When you arrive at its gorgeous gardens, you will immediately know why it belongs to the historical haven that is Barcelona.
Love reading Culture Trip? How about travelling with us! Our Culture Trips are small-group tours that truly immerse you in a destination through authentic travel experiences. You can also embrace slow travel and the joys of journeying by train on our eco-friendly Rail Trips.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.