I love when a very local, specific food item is idolised when it’s season arrives. Currently here in the UK we have Yorkshire rhubarb appearing in shops, and the early stems are sought out by chefs and home cooks like the precious pink jewels that they are. Over in the Catalan region of Spain, the sweet onion called a calçot is so prized that a whole festival honors it: the calçotada. Here in Manchester and Liverpool, Lunya had a calçot dish on the menu while they were in season, and they created their own calçotada right here in Manchester to bring some Catalan sunshine to a hum drum Monday evening!
Calçotada comes to Manchester
Lunya is big on Spanish and Catalan hospitality. Owners Peter and Elaine Kinsella greeted all their guests at their Manchester calçotada with Spanish treats from the deli downstairs. Peter told us how a calçotada works – it is basically a feast which goes on all day sometimes, all washed down with cava. Importantly he showed us how to drink the accompanying cava from a porron. Years of experience have made him a pro!
For the sake of research Andrew was forced to have several attempts at it too – and to be honest he wasn’t at all bad!
What’s a calçot? Know your onions!
We are talking about a sweet little veggie, somewhere between a spring onion and a baby leek. Coming into season in mid winter, and finishing at the end of March, they are celebrated throughout the Catalan region where they grow in abundance.
To eat, they are charred over open flames or BBQ then wrapped in newspaper to steam. You pop off the outer skin and dunk in a romanesco sauce before tipping your head back and eating in one! And if you’re thinking that sounds messy…you’re right! That’s why diners are given very attractive bibs to save their clothing. Leave your shame at the door and you are in for a treat!
After the pile of calçots, the cava continued to flow while we enjoyed cheese, meat and seafood from the deli. It’s amazing how wearing a bib brings total strangers together!
Just when we thought we’d eat no more, platters heaving with grilled Catalan sausage, lamb chops and chicken appeared, alongside patas bravas and pan con tomate. Spanish Nordes Gin and crema Catalana finished us off. Peter didn’t lie when he said calçotada was a feast!
It’s a shame that calçot season is over now – I loves this communal fun way to eat. I’ll definitely be asking friends to join us for a calçotada at Lunya next year.
In the meantime, Lunya continue to go from strength to strength. The original Liverpool site has moved to the other end of the street to a bigger unit. And just this week they’ve announced a smaller more intimate venue is to open down on the docks in a few months.
Lunya host Spanish food events throughout the year so it’s well worth checking them out. I can also assure you that I’ve enjoyed countless tapas in both Liverpool and Manchester sites and the deli is my go-to for good chorizo and olive oil.
*PR invite. Thank you to Lunya and SH Communications for your wonderful hospitality
**Additional (far better) images courtesy of SH Communications.