The Catalan cuisine combines a basic respect and passion for local ingredients with an urge to compose them in inspiring and varied forms. Tradition and protection of the distinctive Catalan means that seasonal ingredients are promoted and celebrated. Catalonia was in the Middle Ages a large kingdom that stretched across the Mediterranean sea. From all those many countries Catalans brought home dishes, ingredients and a will to combine and to provide local variants.
Priorat is characterized by a “domestic kitchen”. It is largely local ingredients fresh from the hills that you will find on your dish. The vegetable garden plays a major role here: A rich variety of tomatoes, eggplant, spinach and chard are indispensable. Add crops such as almonds, hazelnuts and pine nuts. Any Catalan has his preference for almonds (either local largetta or marcona) and the origin of the best hazelnuts will be discussed among friends. Olive oil from the local cooperative is often preferred.
Finally, there is a passionate hunting culture. Wild boar and partridge are naturally connected with hunting. But Catalans also “hunt” wild asparagus and mushrooms. Throughout the season you can see couples or entire families drift through pine forests and mountain sides. The best places are kept as family secrets, not to be shared with anyone. On the menu you will also find snails, figs and blackberries which are similarly gathered on hillsides in Priorat.
Guide Michelin gave one third of its stars in Spain to restaurants in Catalonia, but less will do: Look for the mark “Platos Catalanes” when you’re at a restaurant.