Girona has a covered market with all types of fresh food and then outside the building various stall holders set up as well. Here you can find all the seasonal fruit and vegetables as well as exotic items like black figs, quince, snails, chestnuts, pomegranates and mushrooms of all types even though this year they are expensive because of a lack of rain and therefore supply is limited.
We always have a great selection of fruit and veggies but autumn seems to have some especially yummy things on offer so take a look!
Fish, as we all know, come in many different shapes and sizes and what to buy and how to prepare them is an art we seem to be losing as our lives speed up and we cook less.
These are issues that a new project which was inaugurated yesterday by Catalan President Artur Mas called the “Espai del Peix” aims to address in the traditional fishing port of Palamós on the Costa Brava. Housed in the same complex as the fishermans co-operative where fish are auctioned every day the boats go out, this new exhibition area is part museum, part kitchen and all about promoting the varied health benefits and ease of preparing fish dishes.
One idea is to invite top local chefs to explain their favourite fish recipes and actually get people involved in making them, especially targeting children who seem to feel increasingly alienated to this important and healthy food.
Regular demonstrations, tastings, conferences and kids days should help to raise awareness and get fish sales increasing again-a worthy and tasty cause, please go and visit!
Do your kids eat fish? Do you buy fresh fish? Any favourite recipes to pass on?
Held in Girona this year but alternating with Santiago de Compostela, this gastronomic event has taken off in a big way considering it is not hosted in a large city. This week’s tragic news of the death of Santi Santamaria, one of the top chefs in Spain ever since being the first in Catalonia to get 3 Michelin stars at the Raco de Can Fabes in 1994 is being remembered by his public. He would have been at the Fòrum to comment and encourage the amazing progress of all things gastronomic in Spain and in particular here in Catalonia.
There are stands selling everything from fresh sea urchins or organic steaks delivered to your home as well as information on healthy diets. A perfect place to find products with a coveted local quality certificate and of course tasting the wide selection of foods on offer chased down with wines and cavas from all over Spain. The best part of the Fòrum are the dozens of workshops where you can learn about certain types of cooking and their preparation. There are general talks like blue fish from the Mediterranean and how to cook them or you can learn from top celebrity chefs like Charlie Trotter from Chicago who is here giving a masterclass.
Local boy Ferran Adria (El Bulli) is giving a presentation, the Roca brothers(El Celler de Can Roca) are here of course this being their home town as well as French and Japanese chefs to dazzle us with their skills and tastes.
If you have a chance to attend, the feast will continue until the 23rd of february.
The days have warmed up considerably recently and while on a bike ride it was noticable how colour is returning to the countryside.
Almonds, cherries, plum and peach are all in flower now so there is a wonderful scent in the air as well as a visual treat when venturing into the country. Olive trees bared of fruit and the ground swept below their branches after their recent harvest, vines pruned and waiting for the new growth to begin, bees buzzing in the fruit trees, this all adds up to a time where spring is getting close.
Of course, not everything is perfect, bee populations are severely reduced, as elsewhere in the world, and there may be a few late frosts to stop the blossoms, and rain is always needed in this parched land, but overall there is no stopping nature taking its course and the growing cycle starting again.
With recent temperatures down to -7ªC at night and about the same in positive during the day, thoughts turn to keeping warm, and eating big meals is one very pleasant way to do it.
The tradition of big breakfasts here in Catalunya really started with hunters who, after a cold night stalking (or being stalked) by wild boar, needed something substantial to get them feeling warm and sociable again. So various restaurants in the countryside specialize in foods which one would not normally associate with the western concept of breakfast.
How about starting around 9am with a glass of red wine and some olives and pickled cauliflower, and then moving into the room where an open fire with hot coals on a grill for preparing your own toasted bread is the next step. Once you have the toast made, then of course it’s time to apply garlic, squeezed tomato and olive oil to it as this is the base for the meal. After this you go to the buffet counter to choose the meat you want. The choice varies from sausages, chicken, lamb chops and pig trotters to salted fish and, of course, steak. Everyone prepares their own meat so that they can choose exactly how rare or well done they like it. Once cooked to perfection, the meat is piled on the plate with the toast and a dab of “all-i-oli” (garlic mayonnaise). With a full glass of wine, it is time to begin the feast which is breakfast!
This meal is not everyones idea of a good start to the day, especially since afterwards the last thing you feel like doing is working, but it is a delicious way to spend a few hours out of the cold winter chill and certainly eliminates the need to think about another meal for a good few hours.
Sometimes we have to accept that the French do it better, not bigger or louder, just with more style. Such is the case of the saturday morning market in the streets of Ceret, which is just across the border some 45 mins from Girona.
The stalls are more varied, the products look nicer, even when most of the fruit on sale is Spanish. You can find lots of interesting things for presents like candles and soap, then there is the selection of organic bread, fruit and vegetables as well as wines, honey, cheese, which is also never seen, or at least not promoted as such in Spain.
Add in the fact that Ceret is a charming village with some interesting old squares, narrow lanes and plenty of terraces to sit outside and eat and drink and the whole experience feels somehow more satisfying.
Winter is not the best time to visit as there are fewer stalls, and thus selection, but it is also less crowded and if you plan well, after indulging in lunch in one of the many tempting restaurants, the local rugby team may be playing which is a real treat.
Vive la France, and having it so close by!