Cava and Calcots – a Celebration of Onions

The first time I had Calcots was in March 2012 on a vineyard in Spain. The fresh, green colored onions were grilled on open fire, along juicy pieces of lamb and other vegetables. I had a glass of Cava in my hand – life was perfect in that moment. I carry this memory with me like a token. Its one of those happy moment where life could not have been more perfect. Day after was not that pleasant: too much cava and smelling like a campfire due to hanging around the barbecue too much. But I dont hang on to that part. My memory is all about dangling the calcot above my mouth, trying to take a bite without making a mess. I totally made a mess, but it did not matter. A few weeks ago, M noticed that a local wine bar in Stockholm advertised Calçotada, which is a special event to celebrate the harvest of the onions, so off course we had to go and see what it was all about. 

Grus Grus is the side pocket and wine bar of restaurant Tranan, a traditional Swedish restaurant with a long list of merits. Grus Grus has been on our list of to-go places. They have a nice long menu of interesting wines by the glass and a good reputation for no-fuss-type snack food: good charcuterie and cheeses, pate, etc. The calcots were just for that one night, a special to celebrate the season for the lovely long green scallions. Grus Grus also has weekly wine tastings. There is a tasting room for bigger groups and the tasting can also be ordered to the table. All wines are available also as half-glasses, which seals the deal that this is a serious wine bar. The kitchen at Grus Grus is open, so you can observe whats going on while waiting for your food. I always enjoy this concept as I feel it keeps the chefs honest.

Traditionally, calcots are grilled over a hot fire, wrapped up in newspaper and served on terra cotta tiles. They are eaten with bare hands after peeling away the charred top layer and dipping them in Romesco sauce. In Spain calcots are accompanied by red wine (we had white) and bread and followed with lamb chops, spiced sausage and white beans. For dessert, oranges and cava.

I have to give it to Grus Grus, the clacots were wonderful and as tasty and messy as I remember. We has some charcuterie to start with dry Manzanilla sherry and traditional Cava. With the calcots, we had some white wine from Madrid. The only complaint I could have, is that portion of calcots is not super big: around 6 calcots per serving. However, as Grus Grus style is to have medium sized dishes and not an all you can eat buffet, it was kind of what I expected. And the calcots were big, so I did not leave the bar hungry.

My warm recommendation to Grus Grus as well as calcots. But don’t wear your best white shirt, as it is a messy affair even at a nice restaurant.

xx Soile

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A little snack while waiting for Calcots. Photo: Soile Vauhkonen
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This is going to be messy… Photo: Soile Vauhkonen

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