Savour the World with Chef Dominique Rizzo
Why Spain, why Catalonia? It’s hard not to think of Spain without thinking about flamenco dancing, red wine and tapas.
One of the questions that I am often asked is why I choose Spain and why Catalonia for my upcoming food tour.
It is the flamenco, the red wine, the tapas and all the amazing garlic-rich prawns “gambas al ajillo” and even more it is about the rich history of food, culture and art of this region that rubs shoulders with the borders of France.
Photo by School of Tapas
Catalonia has beautiful sandy beaches like Costa Maresme, reaching into the Mediterranean Sea, unlike those other feet-breaking pebble beaches, that were until more recently were unknown to tourists who happily headed south of Barcelona to Sitges (although Sitges is still a favourite). Many locals of Barcelona preferred to head north where many owned their weekender beach apartment – white tiles throughout, clean and cool in the summer months.
Photo by Travel.365
What do you do after a day swimming at the beach but eat fresh seafood and this is where the famous fish markets at Arenys de Mar comes in to play. They say it is something else to watch the fishing boats come into port in the late afternoon, followed by flocks of seagulls hoping to feed on some fish. There is a fish auction at the port at night – perfect to take home the freshest of fish to cook for dinner.
Photo by Best Maresme
The history of food in this area is what really is fascinating – from sauces introduced by the Phoenicians, olive oil brought in by the Greeks, and then the influence of the Romans, Carthaginians and Jews bringing with them their own exotic flavours and spices.
While paella is the traditional food of Spain, the Arabs instilled the love of almonds and gazpacho, while the Christians introduced Spanish jamon (ham) previously banned by the Jews and Arabs alike. Garlic, garlic, garlic – it’s gastronomical flavor making even garlic soup a must-do.
Photo by Jamon.com
When not at the beach or eating bocadilos – the amazing bagette with Spanish ham or drinking carva the champagne of the area or rich coffee, then it is total immersion in the art and culture of Barcelona with major art galleries from the classics to street art, stunning libraries and museums.
Photo by Ricardo
Wander the streets, gazing at the Medieval buildings, Roman walls from the 13th century, the Gothic quarter between the Ramblas and Via Laientana.
Sometimes the reasons why I chose Catalonia are endless.