BCNBlog: Photographing A Catalan Christmas Luncheon

After we finally emerged from slumber and opening presents, we headed to Can Jordi, a typical Catalan restaurant where we have dined together on many occasions.  Because Christmas is a holiday, but traditionally not the date on which families exchange presents (which takes place on Epiphany twelve days later), shops are closed, as are many restaurants, though some do stay open to cater to those who either cannot or will not cook on Christmas Day.  We were greeted with various tasty items to tide us over as our various courses were prepared.

First came the pa amb tomàquet, which is more or less the Catalan version of bruschetta. It consists of toasted peasant bread rubbed with tomato (and sometimes with garlic), drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt. It is typically enjoyed on its own, or as a base for other items such as sliced meats:

The tomato bread was accompanied by several trays of local sausages, olives, pearl onions, and cornichons:

For my first course I had the traditional Catalan dish of “Sopa de Galets amb Pilotas”. This is a delicious soup made using a veal stock, along with the large, ear-shaped “galet” pasta, and small meatballs made of ground veal. It is lighter than it sounds, and a very good way to prepare for the usually much more heavy dishes to come:

My main course was duck braised in wine and fresh figs. It was an outstanding example of the type of cooking I spoke about in my earlier post about dinner at another local restaurant, Set Portes. The combination of the savory, gamy duck with the sweetness of the wine and the figs, created a dark, rich sauce that was so delicious one wanted to lick the plate clean:

After this I chose something fairly straightforward for dessert, a mould of vanilla ice cream covered in semi-sweet chocolate sauce, and decorated with a large cookie wafer:

We were also brought something rather interesting to accompany our desserts, and could not at first figure out what the sweet treats were. They were crunchy, but also chocolatey, in some strange, clumpy forms that almost looked like bits of coral. After munching on a few I realized that – as was confirmed by our waiter – they were corn flakes coated in a melted dark chocolate. The combination was then moulded into these shapes by dropping them into “lumps”, for lack of a better word, as the melted chocolate began to set. It was such a tasty, simple, but interesting combination of texture, taste, and presentation, that I am going to try making it at home:

And of course, at the end of the meal one has to have coffee. If you do not already know my opinions on the excellence of coffee in Spain as compared to the United States, then I suggest you go back and read more of this blog. That being said:

It was quite a meal, and because of it several of my siblings and I decided to walk back to our flat, instead of catching a taxi. It was a longish but not a bad walk, and the sunset illuminated many of the beautiful old late-19th and early-20th century Art Nouveau apartment buildings along the Diagonal and the Passeig de Gracia, two of the most prestigious avenues in Barcelona. It is difficult to put into words how very pleasant and satisfying this experience – of eating some of my favorite foods, and walking around my favorite city – was for me, but at the very least, gentle reader, you can imagine that it was a significant pleasure which I am very grateful to have had.

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