The calçot is a long variety of white onion traditionally grown in certain areas of Tarragona, although it is now cultivated in almost all of Catalonia. It is the most well-known dish of the city of Valls (Tarragona), and is indisputably a key component of popular Catalan gastronomy.
How are calçotades prepared? The calçots are grilled over an open flame, charring the outside, before being wrapped in newspaper to keep them warm, and served on a hot clay tile. Time to eat… but first you have to know how. No knives or forks allowed, you eat this dish with your hands! This peculiar way of eating means you are bound to get messy, which is why another characteristic of calçotades are the paper or fabric bibs worn by participants.
The calçots are dipped in romesco sauce: a traditional sauce made with roasted tomatoes and garlic, bread, almonds, red pepper, rosemary, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. They are usually followed by grilled meat, botifarra sausage or lamb chops.
Calçot season does not officially begin until the calçotada in Valls, on the last Sunday in January. Calçotades are very popular festivities where families and friends get together to share this gastronomic jewel of Catalonia.
In Catalonia, there is a huge host of barbecue spots in the countryside where people can throw a calçotada outdoors. Most restaurants in towns and cities also include calçots on their menus. They are traditionally accompanied by wine from the same region.