Calçots are tender onions which through a special growing process are taken out of the ground, saved for a couple months and then planted again, deeper in the ground, so that the onion grows elongated and there is a larger amount of tender white untuched by the sun. The process takes a whole year to make, and then during these months they are harvested.
Restaurants often grow their own calçots although the original ones and which are considered the best are bought down in Valls, Tarragona. They're roasted over charcoals on big wire racks. Even though the cooking is gentle, the outside of the calçots becomes charred. Small bundles are then arranged lengthwise on the inside of a long clay roof tile.
Calçots are fun to eat as you get quite dirty, so restaurants make sure you have a large napkin or bib so you don’t get big stains all over. They are all black outside and you have to peal the outer leaves to leave only the tender white with a bit of dexterity. If you peal too many leaves off you find youself left with no calçot left to eat.
Then you dip it in Romesco sauce for calçots, a rich red luscious sauce made of dried mild red pepper, ground almonds, roasted garlic and olive oil. You repeat the ritual with each calçot, strip the black outside leaves off, dip or drag the white part of the calçot through the thick sauce and lower it into your mouth, biting off the tender white bottom.
It’s quite addicting and once you start it’s hard to stop. Amazing how you can eat so many tender onions. Usually you eat 10 or 15 although some people are capable of eating more than a hundrend. Of course, wonderful if eaten together with some nice red wine.A second course usually consists of typical catalan sausage and beans or lamb chops.
If you are in Lloret de Mar and wondering where you can try this catalan specialty, we recommend you visit the restaurant Cala Canyelles at Lloret de Mar. They have a special menu which includes wine and deserts, crema catalana (another typical dish consisting of a rich custardy creme brulee flavoured with citrus peel, with a crunchy burnt sugar crust).