It took me about 32 hours of travel before I reached a bed in Barcelona, the first city to mark my return to Europe after a month's hiatus in America.
That is a lot of hours. I know. Let's not get into it.
But let's do get into this: I learned that when you're jet-lagged in a way that the lines between human and zombie become blurred, there is only one real cure.
|Approaching the bundle of calçots for the first time how could I have known what greatness awaited me?|
Onions, people. It's one word. One vegetable. One amazing thing that you think you already know...but you have no idea.
Couchsurfing requests, I was feeling pretty good about these two. So when they invited us along to a calçotada (which is essentially a leek cookout) that Josep's dad would be having in the nearby mountains the morning after our arrival, we didn't even consider turning the offer down, jet-lag be damned.
|Father and son in action. Notice that the calçots have to get super charred, and once one side is finished, a rack is placed on top so as to "sandwich" the calçots between two racks to make them easy to flip.|
1. Forage (fine, or just purchase)
2. Cut off the roots of the calçots, leaving a small part of the root in tact (you'll find out why later)
3. Char until completely blackened on the outer layer
5. After about 15 minutes, take a leek, hold all the inner-most "stalks" at the top and the edge of root that you left in-tact in step two.
6. Pull the inner stalks upward while holding on to your "root" piece, and the edible portion will slide right out, leaving the charred remains behind
7. Dip said edible portion in homemade Romesco sauce.
|Dip, raise, and lower. And take low-quality cell phone pics.|
9. Continue gluttonously
|Let the calçots steam themselves from the outside in bundled up in their newspaper sleeping bags. A local meal plus recycling!|
Authentic Spanish Romesco Sauce
Heat oven to 400 Fahrenheit.
Toss or brush about 2 tbs of EVOO to cover tomatoes and 8 whole garlic cloves. Place on baking sheet and roast until soft and caramelized (i.e. beginning to brown), about 30 minutes. Reserve roasting liquid. Pinch off tomato skins after they've cooled for about 10 minutes.
Pulse nuts in food processor a couple of times, then add roasting liquid and all other ingredients except for the EVOO and bread. Pulse 4-5 times. Turn processor on medium-low and slowly add EVOO until desired consistency is reached. Texture should be thick and slightly coarse, but smooth enough so that it will yield when you dip something in it, think: something between tapenade and ketchup. Taste, add more red wine vinegar, salt, or pepper if desired. If mixture turns out a bit runny for some reason, tear off 1-inch chunks of the bread and add until satisfied.
|Lamb ribs with local chicken and sausage. And all the Romesco sauce you could dream of.|
|Gabrielle and Josep, our hosts, and Josep's dad (aka the Man) showing us his purrón skillz|
Little did I know that I would be hanging out a bit more personally with the bees, because somebody decided it would be a good idea for John and me to suit up and follow the head man down to the hives.
|Using the smoker device calms the bees down. Smoking: either ramps you up or slows you down. Ugh.|
What if all my days in Spain end up being like this...!?
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