Food, travel, life and culture: Tarragona Blog, your alternative guide to Tarragona and beyond!
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Tarragona Food

Quina Barra!!! at El Cortijo

Quina Barra!!! at El Cortijo

This is a one year event which has become an institution, like the place it self.
El Cortijo is not for wimps; over the years, the diminutive eatery which the closest thing we have to a proper taverna, has become a gastronomic hot point for those yearning for the authentic.

Restaurant Almosta, the natural way

Restaurant Almosta, the natural way

Almosta is tiny, energetic eatery, hidden away in Carrer Ventallos No.13.

Tapageddom: Tarragona’s tapas war

dtapes, tarragona, tapes, tapas

If you are visiting Tarragona within the next two weeks you will notice an explosion in tapas offering which is due to a tapas war that is taking place between the two main organisers.

All about Chartreuse gastronomy

chartreuse-tarragona

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.

Tarragona Restaurant Wine

Tarragona Restaurant Wine is the latest gastronomic initiative to fill the plates and glasses of Tarragona’s gastro circles.  Running from the 19th of March till the 4th of April it offers a selection of 13 different local wines which can be sampled by the glass in accompanies by an excellent three course meal in  21 different restaurants.

Somriu a la Crisi, at AQ

Somriu a la Crisi, AQ, Tarragpma

In Tarragona  February is a month where the smoky sweet smell of Calçots sweeps down from Valls and sets the tastebuds running. So what better way to dispel the winter blues than to take a leaf off one of the most compelling gastronomic initiatives of the year “Somriu a la Crisi”  or, in other works, put smile to the crisis. 

At Bar Cortijo

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At Bar Cortijo everything is possible.  It seems to escape every common sense of how things should be prepared, served and run, taking off  on a tangent of its own instead. The result is one of the most unique gastronomic experiences Tarragona has to offer.

Tarragona’s days of rice and wine

arros-tarragona

Rice is definitely on the menu in this new Tarragona gastronomic initiative aimed at promoting the rice grown in the delta region of the Ebro, an area which has just been declared a biosphere reserve due to its  sustainable development.

Tarragona dTapes tapas festival – Serrallo, chapter four

Tarragona dTapes tapas festival – Serrallo, chapter four

The three week gastronomic journey that is Tarragona’s dTapes food festival, is coming to an end and our last port of call is the Serrallo, the quintessential fishermen quarter and home to some of the most gutsiest food in town.

Tarragona dTapes tapas festival – Part Alta, chapter three

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We visit the upper part of the Part Alta in Tarragona, home of some of the best restaurants in town. There is only a few left before this weekend sees the end of another glorious edition of this great tapas festival and there are still much great offerings  to sample.

Tarragona dTapes tapas festival – Part Alta, chapter two

With 18 different restaurants taking part, the Part Alta of Tarragona takes the lion share of the dTapes festival offering. Chapter one of the Part Alta tours start at Plaςa de la Font where you can literally hop from one restaurant to the next without looking at the map and stop for dessert in between.

Tarragona dTapes tapas festival – the Centre, chapter one

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Banners up, aprons tied, kitchens working at full speed as the doors open to the glut feast that is Tarragona dTapes tapas festival.

Tarragona tapas festival, dtapes 2013

tarragona-dtapes

The mini gastronomic tapas hopping glut feast that is Tarragona’s dtapes is back, running three weeks, from the 25th of April until the 16th of May. Forty different restaurants and bars are taking part and there is even and Apple / Android app to show you the way along the dTapes route.

Calçots feast with friends

calcots-tarragona

Calçotada is a real institution in this part of Catalonia and the best way to eat them is out in the  country side surrounding Tarragona, together with family and friends.

Calçotata feast at Valls

calcots-valls

It makes you wonder how it came upon that  an onion grilled to death could become one of Catalonia’s greatest delicacies. Yet the calçot, as this uniquely mild onion is know,  is one of the most deliciously simple culinary inventions I have ever come across.

Artisanal Oli del Raig

If you happen to be in Tarragona this time of the year don’t miss out on the  Oli del Raig, a sumptuous, unfiltered,  first press, artisanal olive oil, made from the small but packed with flavor Arbequina olives, which are harvested and pressed locally in the Tarragonese .

Home made Panellets

home made Panellets, Tarragona

Panellets are traditionally served here in Tarragona on the 31st of October for the Castanyada , and you can either buy them from a fine patisserie or you make your own and here is how!

Montsant wine on the Rambla

Montsant wine on the Rambla, Tarragona

Montsant and Priorat are unashamedly, one of the most prestigious wine growing regions in Europe, yet their fantastic output is largely unknown to the wider wine squaffing confraternities.

Coca of Sant Joan

The Coca de Sant Joan is a traditonal sweet bread which is sold all over Tarragona (and Catalonia) during the festival of Sant Joan. Made of yeast, milk, flower,  butter and eggs  the doe additionally flavored with grated lemon rind and aniseed and additional spices. Once baked it’s garnished with candied fruit, pine nuts and a sprinkle of sugar.

Chartreuse ice cream

With the start of Summer ice cream becomes as mandatory as cold beer, and Tarragona has it’s own fair share of ice cream parlors competing with flavours.

a bite of Peix Blau

Peix Blau is a gastronomic event organised by Tarragona Gastronomica in order to promote this very local catch, the Peix Blau,  a type of sardine unique to these waters.
29 local restaurants are offering a bespoke tasting menu based  on this versatile fish and ranging from 20 to 30 Euros a meal. So, in reference to an outstanding Tapas on offer last month, we thought to pay L’Orangerie du Marais a second visit and see what they came up with this time.

dTapes – Tapas festival in Tarragona, the Survival Guide

dTapes - Tapas festival in Tarragona, the Survival Guide

Wrapping it all up, there is little doubt that dTapes is getting more and more popular every year which is a credit to the fantastic organisation behind this event and the many great restaurateurs of this city.

Started in Tarragona, it has now been copied by many other places including the mighty Barcelona, but I have yet to see the same high standard replicated to equal measure  – Tarragona still holds the crown.

dTapes – Tapas festival in Tarragona, round #4

Our final round up of the dTapes Festival in Tarragona, one of the best gastronomical experiences to be had this part of the woods. We started  in the Part Alta with one of the most memorable entries,  the beautifully named Visca La Terra! (long live the Earth) created by El Llagut Taverna Marinera, one of the top restaurant in town.

dTapes – Tapas festival in Tarragona, round #3

Just when you think it cannot get any better it does… I present you Nebraska, a mini hamburger creation so good it will follow you  in your dreams.

Lovingly made at L’Orangerie du Marais this baby of perfection is perfectly cooked and seasoned and served a touch of brie, crispy bacon and (wait for this) caramelised apple cream and a pear purée all enclosed in to perfectly fresh perfectly warm and slightly toasted  mini ciabatta.  Glorious and straight in to the top 10!

dTapes – Tapas festival in Tarragona, round #2

It’s really interesting to find 3 different types of gastronomy in Tarragona ; these are represented by the Serrallo with the best seafood, the Centre where you get you traditional earthy Catalan cusine and then the Part Alta which adds a touch of fusion and leap to its food. Of course every part has a bit of both but there is a definite gastronomic character to each area.

Tapas season in Tarragona

Tarragona takes its Tapas reputation seriously and this is why we have not just one, but two Tapas events running next to each other this month: dtapes and tap Alta.
But let’s focus on dtapes: from the 19th of April to the 6th of May we have the fourth edition of the event  which takes you around some of the best eateries in town – tapas hopping!

Mousse de Chartreuse

The versatility of Chartreuse, this time incarnated in to a a firm mousse topped with a thin layer of caramelised sugar served with no fuss at the small and established pastisseria / confiteria / cafeteria Conde.

The utterly moorish Buñuelos de Cuaresma

I am typing this with sticky fingers and a lingering taste of lemony vanilla on my tongue… Buñuelos de Cuaresma are a typical Easter  sweet  here in  Catalonia, consisting of fried dough balls filed with a creamy custard, rolled in sugar and piled high in local bakeries and patisseries

Tarragona Chartreusito

Marry Tarragona’s favourite liqueur Chartreuse with a Mojito and you get a Chartreusito!

More than Calçotada

This post is not strickly about Calçotada, but about the messy joy that life can be.  Calçotada is local delicacy; a unique type of sweet onion that grows in this part of Catalonia and harvested around the beginning of February. And then something very strange happens … the onions (which look like tender young leaks) are heaped up on grill over a fire and burned till they are almost charred.  Served on an upturned terracotta tile the vegetable is bought on your table and you pick one up with your fingers and hold it from the top, then you simply pull on the root end and pull down the outer layer (bit like removing a sock)revealing the succulent, sweet, caramelised flesh which is simply delicious. You dip the  Calçots in a red sauce (similar to Romesco),  bring it to your mouth and eat it!

Vermouth Artisano

If I can single out one drink that distinguishes this part of the world it’s Vermouth, but not as you know it.

The vermouth made here is complex, beautifully rich, with strong hints of caramel and bitter orange.

The classic way to serve this drink is  in not mixed up with other stuff but neat, in a tumbler full of ice, garnished with aceitunas rellenas de anchoa (that is olives stuffed with anchovies which add a wonderful satly contrast to the flavour) a slice or orange or lemon.

Tortell de Reis

People were queuing around the block for this, the Catalan Epiphany cake: Tortell de Reis (Cake of Kings).

Epiphany (here Dia de Reis) eclipses Christmas: it’s a sumptuous celebration  which started yesterday evening with the stunning  Three Kings parade and got in full swing today with the handing out of countless presents to children and the whole towns (aside from bakeries, cafe’s , restaurants and florists) closed for business.

Pastissets

These wonderful Pastissets are small parcels of pastry filled with pumpkin jam (Cabell d’àngel) which gives the filling it’s lovely texture. They are not overly sweet but dusted in sugar for extra crunchiness. You can get them from the main Market and any decent bakery/patisserie in town.  I have mine with a nice cortado (shot of coffee) for a little afternoon break.

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