Tarragona has a third, ubiquitous and unmistakable patron, one which sits in the kitchen of every household, restaurant and bar and sells by the crate during Santa Tecla: the unmistakable Chartreuse.
Conceived in France in the eighteenth century by Carthusian monk sand inspired from an ancient recipe, Chartreuse made it to Tarragona around 1903 when the monks were expelled from France and their property confiscated. They set up new factory in what was then the industrial hub of the city where the secret recipe was faithfully translated in the celebrated yellow and green liqueur ( then nicknamed as the Tarragone to distinguish it from cheap imitations!). Although the distillery was finally shut 1989 with production going back to France, Chartreuse never really left the Tarragona and continues its role as a staple as an after dinner drink and a base for festivities .
This month sees the launch of a new gastronomic initiative called Chartreuse a Taula: from the 1st to the 27th of April 13 restaurants, two patisseries and the the best ice cream maker in town will showcase the surprising versatility of Chartreuse with a total of 14 different mouth watering taster recipes. Details are available at the local Tourist Information Bureaus.
Tarragona Blog was invited to the christening of Chartreuse a Taula held at Barquet ,one of the top gastronomic pads in town, with a fabulous Menù de Degustaciò prepared by three different chefs and here is a visual account on what was on offer:
A little welcome snack consisting of vegetable chips, a little Chartreuse in sparkling water (very refreshing)…
…and more snacks which filled the air with an aromatic whiff of curry
Next was a meal in a glass consisting of a layer of mousse of romesco, a layer or mousse of bacallà and one of mouse of roasted aubergine, all married with a stunning Chartreuse cocktail made with a base of cava and a touch of bitter.
A golden cup arrived with another variation, this time Chartreuse on a tropical note, the aromatic base nicely interlocked with smooth peachy mango top notes.
This was married to a dish of grilled Tarragona prawn sitting on a bed of curried couscous and followed by a rich velvety arròs of baby squids and seasonal vegetables, the best arròs made in Tarragona I have ever come across.
Next on the menu was probably the most memorable dish of the evening: thin layers of smoked pancetta topped by a layer of caramelized apple topped by a marinated sardine. If they served this on dTapes festival it would win the day. This was accompanied by another Chartreuse cocktail with notes of balsamic and honey.
We were nearing dessert time and the introduction was another great cocktail surprise combo based on Chartreuse infused with strong coffee notes.
Add to this a lemon mousse with hints of bergamot and toasted coconut and a cherry stracciatella ice cream, ending with a selection of hand crafted chocolate and vintage chartreuse.
…And there you have it, one great ode to Chartreuse based indulgence made in Tarragona!