The Penedès has a wide variety of establishments offering a range of cuisines from the most innovative to homemade haute cuisine, from typical mountain dishes to Mediterranean fare and even surf and turf. In fact, the dilemma lies in choosing the right place among such great diversity, among both very high prices and rates that seem to date from the last century, among the most advanced in terms of design and nouvelle cuisine and the most classic and traditional cooking you can imagine.
Of course, the best way to investigate the world of Penedès cuisine is to go straight to its original sources. For example, the Vilafranca Saturday market, a mine of high quality produce at affordable prices that attracts people from all over. It’s impressive to see its town centre invaded by the multicoloured stalls, evocative smells and noise of the merchants.
The region’s revival of its past has also included its gastronomy, with considerable advances being made of late. The “gallo” or Penedesenca chicken has been reclaimed, identified as a breed at the beginning of the last century. The “pato mudo” or Barbary duck of the Penedès was also saved from oblivion in the 1990s, now appreciated by the most demanding of palates.
Food-related events offer another inexhaustible and delicious source of opportunities to immerse yourself in the local gastronomic world. Each town, each place seems to have its own gathering, which usually serves as a particularly good excuse to get together, eat, drink and enjoy.
On these foundations, new and innovative restaurateurs are making huge strides, setting up shop next to the most classic establishments, taking advantage of locations with sea views or old buildings restored with love and good taste. Traditional ingredients are used to recreate ancient dishes or create new ones, surprising delicatessen treats that, accompanied by a glass of brut nature or the wine required by the occasion, can simply make diners happy. A whole festival of marvellous recipes and typical desserts such as “carquinyolis” and “catanias”, caramelised almonds bathed in white praline and cocoa powder.
The Penedès should be visited and the senses, all of them, allowed to savour the region in its different dimensions: its climate, its nature, its human landscape, its sophisticated taste for good food and drink.
(interested in reading more)
Barbara Schwarzwälder, “Penedés a delight for the senses”, Ed. Vinificadas 2013