It’s not spring in New York until New Yorkers get their spring onions. For Boqueria, the arrival of spring onions at the green market brings the celebration of Spain’s annual Calçotada - a deliciously messy feast of calçot dipping and rosé wine drinking.
The tradition originated in the Catalan town of Valls when a local farmer named Xat de Benaiges planted the sprouts of garden onions and continued to cover them with earth so the longer portion of the stem would remain white and edible. This practice, known as calçar, means “to cover the trunk of a plant with soil” as well as “to put one’s shoes on.”
(No, you won’t see us wearing these funny little hats.)
The calçots (a variety of spring onion from Lerida, Spain) are charred on a grill and wrapped in newspaper so they steam and become tender. The darkened outer skin is removed, which surprisingly slides off with ease, to reveal the white part of the calçot that’s ready to be dipped in salbitxada, or romesco sauce.
Photo by Alícia
Though Catalonians like wearing bibs during the messy affair, we recommend making a romesco sauce thick enough to stick to the calçot without dripping. Here’s Chef Marc Vidal’s drip-proof recipe.
Boqueria’s Romesco Recipe:
• 10 cloves of garlic, peeled
• 1/2 cup of hazelnuts
• 5 nyora peppers, cut in half, deseeded and blended until smooth
• 3 thin slices of baguette
• 20 parsley leaves
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 4 tbsp sherry vinegar
• De-stem the tomatoes and cut an x on the top. Line a sheet pan with foil and place tomatoes and garlic cloves on top. Drizzle with olive oil and put in oven for 1 hour at 400 degrees. Remove and when cool, peel the charred tomato skins.
• Fry the hazelnuts in a pot of oil until golden brown.
• Fry the slices of baguette until crispy.
• Blend ALL ingredients in a blender until smooth, adding the oil a little at a time to make sure a thick consistency is kept.
• Add salt to taste
Boqueria’s own Calçotada will be held on Memorial Day, May 27th, 2013 on the sidewalk in front of our Flatiron location. Along with calçots and dipping sauce, we’ll be serving our house-made butifarra sausage, smoked paprika vinaigrette, and fava beans with rosé wine poured from porróns (these things):
Photo By Mr. Beattie
So stop by, eat, drink, and be messy.