[C]alçotada, a party centered around eating piles of messy calçots, or green onions, that are blackened over open fires and served with a garlicky romesco sauce of toasted almonds, toasted bread, and smoky ñora peppers.
Calçots are a Catalonian specialty grown in a unique way: harvested in early summer, they're replanted and then repeatedly covered with dirt so that the white part of the root elongates, producing a sweet and tender vegetable. (Calçots take their name from the Catalan calçar, which means to put shoes on, a reference to the process of covering the roots. [Saveur]
It was on the castle-in-the-sky To Do List, as I've no earthly idea what spring I'd be able to trot around Spain.
Bless Peter Hoffman for cheerily provoking New Yorkers to eat with their hands and cavort with strangers!
"It's all in the arms!" Hoffman happily demonstrated, the blush-colored wine catching light as it streamed neatly into his open mouth.
Family Effing threw down, but not nearly to as impressive effect. (My lips touched glass as I tapered off--FAIL!) Cheers to our table, where every single diner gave the porron a go.
After sliding off the onions' scorched outer layers, all present, from children to grandmothers, dunk the calçots in romesco (see Grilled Green Onions with Romesco), tip back their heads, and lower the long, white stalks into their mouths, leaving behind sooty fingers and a mound of carbonized leaves. [Saveur]
Our green onions were not as hefty or sooty as the Catalonian ones described, so no stripping was necessary; the helpful grill-master's mate showed us how to coil the onions and scoop up romesco from the large shared bowl. Big, greasy smiles and blackened fingers followed.
The romesco was rich, coarse and thick, like a red-hued pesto, chunky with mortared almonds. The brazen garlicky-fattiness of it mingled beautifully with the sweet-n-bitter grilled green onions, flame-cripsed at the ends and tender within.
EF and Effing BroBro:
I wish I'd thought to scoop out a big blob of it to eat with my lamb, greens, sausage and beans...but I was too busy eating lamb, greens, sausage and beans.
Everything was that stripped-down stripe of satisfaction. The grilled lamb was a lovely medium-rare, with a good sprinkle of flaky sea salt; the kale with maybe a little lemon and olive oil; the botifarra sausages were plump, generous, and totally unadorned; and the beans tasted...like beans, not sugar or pork, tooth-tender and creamy.
Crispy-topped crema catalana capped off the bloat:
Catalans claim that their custard is primordial creme brulee, but when you've got a trap full of heavy cream and burnt brittled sugar, you're unlikely to quibble over chicken-or-the-egg.
Spoons plonked to pause down our long table of good-humored, rosé-glowy company, live flamenco tumbling the whole restaurant along. 'Twas a mighty fine way to spend a spring night.