Crema Catalana - cooking proper Catalan food in the Costa Brava

Mummy, I’m on fire!

And he was – kind of. As part of our weekend break on the Costa Brava we took a drive out to the gorgeously secluded La Vinyeta for a spectacularly different kind of dinner. As we pulled into the privately-owned vineyard, the sun was setting over the vines, and the distinctive smell of a wine cellar wafted over to us. Olives and grapes mingled in the fields, and we paused to squeeze and inhale the aroma of the fruits as we wandered down to the kitchens.

Catalan food - the beautiful olive groves at La Vinyeta on the Costa Brava

 

Catalan food to please the whole family.

The wonderful chef Jordi was going to teach us how to create some traditional Catalan food, and this was to be our menu:

Gazpacho

Spanish Tortilla

Catalan Surf and Turf Paella

Crema Catalana

As the children snacked on bread with aioli (a garlic mayonnaise so delicious it converted GG to absolutely needing to take mayo of her dislikes list!), the grown-ups sipped the vineyard’s own wines, and chopped plump, fragrant tomatoes to blitz into a Gazpacho. Now I’m a huge fan of making gazpacho, but mine never tastes like Jordi’s – it was just gorgeous, and so moreish I would happily have downed several of his (prepared earlier) bottles of the stuff! This is Jordi’s recipe:

Catalan Food - Gazpacho

Traditional Gazpacho
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Starter/Light Lunch
Cuisine: Spanish - Catalan
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 kg ripe plum tomatoes
  • ½ small onion
  • 1 small green pepper
  • ½ cucumber
  • 250ml olive oil
  • 2 dessert spoons of vinegar
  • 200g day old bread, soaked in water
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • Small handful each of diced tomateos, red and green peppers, cucumber, onion and croutons to sprinkle on top
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Roughtly chop the tomatoes and put into a blender with the chopped onion, pepper, cucumber, vinegar, oil, garlic and bread. Blen until smooth.
  2. Pour into a bowl, season, and leave to chill for at least an hour.
  3. Serve in soup bowls with the toppings sprinkled in.

Next came the prep for the T0rtilla. A potato and onion omelette, I finally learned the secret to getting the right balance of frying and steaming. The trick, it seems, is to fry gently in tons of olive oil, then pop a lid on on the frying pan to allow everything to soften.

The announcement that the Paella was ready to cook brought The Bug in from where he had been running through the vines with the other children in the dark (how wonderful is that for a thing to do when you’re young?) to deal with the prawns. He is a culinary experimenter, and a big fan of shelling prawns and langoustines, so this was totally his cup of tea.

Catalan food - Surf and Turf Paella

Then finally a Crema Catalana. Very much like a Crème Brulée, the children learned to break eggs the professional way (and the reasons why – all to do with the salmonella on the shell), create a perfect custard, and flame a sugary caramel crust onto the top. I can tell you that the puddings were completely devoured!

This wonderful evening was designed to give us a taste of true Catalan cooking, which I can happily report is absolutely delicious.

You can find La Vinyeta on Facebook.

Disclosure: our meal at La Vinyeta was courtesy of the Catalan tourist board, with whom we travelled for the purposes of review. All editorial, images, and opinions are our own, and may not be copied.