Around the world, the onset of winter means one thing that everyone looks forward to- delicious food. Whether it’s Thanksgiving in the States, or Diwali in India, or All Saints’ Day in Europe.
Last weekend we joined some friends, and their family and friends, to celebrate All Saints’ Day (El Día de Todos los Santos). In Catalonia, this day (or weekend) is celebrated by roasting chestnuts (castañas) over an open fire, and munching down on a super heavy dinner with family.
Our friend’s family happens to own a massive farmhouse in a remote town. We were fashionably late, and on reaching were greeted with freshly roasted chestnuts out of the fire in the old stone fireplace. They were wrapped in a soft blanket in a wicker basket. After circulating around the room and greeting everyone, we took our place at the dinner table with 20 other people.
First up, the wine. We popped open a couple of 35-year-old magnum bottles of red. These too were in-house. In the basement two stories underneath, which we visited, is a massive wine cellar cooled by nature, and covered in cobwebs. The collection includes wines that are almost a century old.
The main course included a very very wide variety of famous Iberian ham (Jamón ibérico). Good Jamón takes a long time to make, going through various steps including curing which can take anything between 12 and 48 months for the higher quality varieties. This was accompanied by an array of cheeses (quesos), and bread with tomato (pan con tomate). They taste best when combined and eaten together, like an open sandwich.
Desert included at least 15 different types of panellets, a traditional Catalan dessert made with chestnuts and sweet potatoes. These included varieties loaded with rich and creamy chocolate, coconut, syrups, and many more. As an additional surprise a new bottle of wine started doing the rounds. This sweet wine (vino dulce) made for an indulgent and sinful combination when eaten with the panellets. I have eaten, and drunk a lot of different types and foods and beverages, but I can say that without any doubt, this was a completely new flavor to my tongue. We just couldn’t get enough of it! Unfortunately, being the one who had to drive us home, I had to control my indulgence.
In any case, suffice it to say we ate, and consequently slept very well that night. Thank heavens the next day was a holiday!
Now, we’re looking forward to our next excuse for enjoying even more delicious treats.