Eating/Drinking

Calçots at Quince

Have you ever enjoyed a Catalan Calçotada? Quince gets set to celebrate this quintessential Spanish festival of food and wine.

March 10, 2017
Noble alliums, such torture they receive. We smash them, pound them, peel them, crush them, chop them, and slice them. They are either hidden in the foundation of a dish or are merely a decorative footnote. Onions, garlic, shallots, scallions, and chives are essential and irreplaceable building blocks in virtually every cuisine, yet they are rarely honored.

In Catalonia, however, one species of allium, a type of green onion called calçot, is considered a regional treasure and delicacy. From January till March it becomes the star of the show. At an average of twenty centimeters, calçots are larger than green onions and strongly resemble leeks. The cultivation of this allium is similar to that of onions, yet it goes through a special process to turn into a calçot. Throughout the growing season, the depth of the soil around the stems is increased, resulting in long, white shoots.

But I won't bore you any further with the technicalities. Let’s get to the fun part. From January till March, the calçot is the lead actor in festivities known as calçotadas. A calçotada is a feast involving the consumption of large amounts of grilled calçots. During the season, hundreds if not thousands of calçotadas are held in Catalonia.

The leeks are traditionally grilled over a fire till they are completely charred. When they have turned completely black, they are taken off the grill, rolled into newspapers, and served in terracotta roof tiles. The participants in a calçotada then proceed to peel off the charred outer layer, revealing the cooked, sweet flesh. The calçot is then dipped into romesco sauce after which the entire calçot is lowered into the mouth.

The grilled calçot might be the star of the show, but it would be nothing without romesco. Romesco is a delicious Catalan sauce based on nuts and red peppers. Different recipes exist but it usually contains almonds, pine nuts or hazelnuts, roasted garlic, olive oil, bitxo and/or nyora peppers. Some versions may include roasted tomatoes, red wine vinegar, and onions.

Charred onions, dripping sauce, eaten in one go; it’s messy business. Therefore, the participants at a calçotada wear large bibs. And those aren’t worn just to protect you from the dripping romesco and bits of charred onion. At a calçotada, the consumption of Spanish wine is paramount. Yet instead of glasses, a porron (a type of Spanish carafe with a small spout) is used. The drinker pours the wine from the carafe into their mouth. This is harder than you think because the drinker can’t touch the carafe with their mouth. So a steady aim is required to ensure that your face and, subsequently, the rest of your upper body isn’t covered in wine.

In short, attending a calçotada isn’t only a delicious experience, it’s also a great way to unleash your inner toddler. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel to the Spain to experience one—although we would certainly love to. Next week, Quince is throwing its fourth calçotada in Bangkok.

As at any good calçotada, a selection of great Spanish wines will be available, as well as a number of Spanish dishes such as grilled sardines, steamed razor clams, Iberico pork, and white bean stew. For those of you who want to try their luck, porrons will be available as well.

Come down for the food; come down for some excellent Spanish wine; but most of all, come down to gather for a shared meal. Because that’s what a calçotada really is about: enjoying the company of your loved ones.

Drop by Quince Eatery & Bar (Sukhumvit 45) on March 15th or book a table at 02-662-4478 / EAT@QUINCEBANGKOK.COM