On the road through the capitals of Xató
Catalonia is a territory that, among many other things, stands out for its gastronomy. Mediterranean cuisine with all its flavors and smells. That is why there are many routes with this theme.
In the regions of Alt i Baix Penedès and Garraf we can taste a typical dish that takes place during the coldest months of the year, the xató. This popular dish is essentially formed with the sauce, which is what gives the plate its name, and the escarole.
Thus, from femturisme we recommend you to all those who like to know the territory enjoying your palate, a gastronomic route that takes place in several towns, where you can taste the differences of the same recipe and choose the one that you liked the most. My appetite is already opening!
The Vendrell; House of Xató, dels Bufats and Pau Casals.
The Vendrell, capital of the Baix Penedès, is the population where the xató is elaborated most faithful to the original recipe according to the xatonaires experts and therefore, it has been known as the homeland of the xató.
It is said that the origin of this dish comes from the ceremony of aixetonar the wine boot. This task was done when the wine was already on the tip of the same boot about to be tasted. Then, it was continued to place a small tap so that the wine could flow. This ritual marked the beginning of the new wine festival in which wine was drunk accompanied by salty foods.
Every year in this municipality the popular xatonada is celebrated, specifically the first Sunday of February; gastronomic day where we have the possibility to taste this typical dish and participate in the different competitions and workshops that are organized, all of them related to the xató.
In addition to the xató, El Vendrell has other typical products that are ideal to combine with each other. We find the bufats (sweets), the carob cake and its wine and cava under the Penedès Designation of Origin.
But in Vendrell not everything revolves only around the xató. In this town we can also enjoy its historical legacy. Today, the portal of the brown of the old walls, the parish church of San Salvador, with a baroque facade is still preserved, and in the maritime neighborhood of San Salvador the primitive parish of San Salvador of the Castle of Calders is still held Romanesque origin
El Vendrell is also a city where great illustrious figures of Catalan culture have been born, among them Àngel Guimerà and Pau Casals. So during the visit to the villa it is a perfect time to visit the house where Pau Casals was born and the auditorium, the Àngel Guimerà museum house, the Archaeological museum, the Apel·les Fenosa foundation and the Deu museum.
During the course of this route, we can enjoy a fantastic landscape contrast formed by the vineyards and beaches.
The tret of sort of the xató season
The xatonada of Vilafranca (communicates with the Vendrell by the AP-7 motorway), which is celebrated the third week of January, differs from the rest because it offers the possibility to taste the five different ways in which this dish can be prepared.
In addition, this population is characterized by being rich in traditions and popularized by its well-known castellers colla.
If we walk for a while through its streets we can contemplate its charm. Modernist, Gothic buildings ( Basilica of Santa Maria, Royal Palace ) and the passion for wines and champagnes justify the exostemcoa of so many wineries, many of them can be visited.
If you feel like going deeper into the world of Xató, we recommend you go to Vilanova.
From Vendrell you must continue along the C-246 county road. Here, in addition to tasting a new dish, you can travel back in time at the Railway Museum and learn something else about the popular Catalan writer Victor Balaguer in its Museum-Library.
This municipality stands out for its relevance as a meeting point for nineteenth-century Catalan modernists, led by Santiago Rusiñol. We can still visit the cau ferrat that was the house-studio of this artist now turned into a museum, and the Maricel museum.
During the 19th century Sitges enjoyed a period of economic bonanza. This was a merchant city that exported its products abroad. Many of the merchants traveled to the Americas and returned with large amounts of money. Then, they began to mark an Indian trend decorating their houses as they had them there. This architecture can be observed in some areas of the city.
As regards the typical products of the town, apart from the xató, it is also worth mentioning the malvasia. It is a variety with which sweet wine is produced that is drunk at the festivities of the population and in the xatonades.
Visit to Calafell, Cunit, Cubelles, Sant Pere de Ribes and Canyelles
Cunit, Cubelles and Calafell are three neighboring towns that you will find on the way to Vilanova i la Geltrú, and those that we recommend you visit if you want to spend more time to know this territory.
You will arrive in Calafell (very close to El Vendrell ) following the N-340. In this population you can not miss the opportunity to visit the Iberian citadel and the church of Santa Creu de Calafell in Romanesque and fortified style, in which mural paintings dated in the s. XI
Cubelles celebrates its Xató Month in February. Architecturally, it stands out for its church of Santa María dated in 1737 and the Marqueses de Alfarràs castle built on s. XVII above the old castle. In this population you can also find the odd building with Indian influences since Pere Escardó lived here, an “American” Catalan.
If you continue along the C-246 county road, you will reach Cunit. In this municipality history left a trace. The remains of an Iberian site called Fondo del Roig have been found, and correspond to an Iberian farm. It is also interesting to see, and thus take advantage of the visit, the church of Sant Cristòfol, in a neoclassical style.
The local road that connects Vilanova i la Geltrú and Vilafranca leads you to Sant Pere de Ribes. This is another Indian municipality. Even so, its new neo-Gothic parish church attracts the eyes of the most curious.
The same road also runs next to Canyelles. In this small town located on a top you can see its castle dated in the s. XV, property at that time of the barons of Bouffard, and the church of Santa Magdalena, which was formerly a dependency of the same castle.
When to do this route?
As we have said before, the xató is a typical dish that is made between the months of January and April since it is the coldest time of the year and consequently, when the escarole is taken. Therefore, to be able to enjoy this route 100% and with all its originality, the most appropriate thing would be to do it during these months.
Even so, there are restaurants that keep Xató on their menu throughout the year.
What is the " xató "?
Xató is a variant romesco sauce made with Ñama. In addition to this kind of pepper it also incorporates toasted bread, almonds and toasted hazelnuts, garlic, oil and salt. This recipe may vary depending on the population where it is made.
It is served with escarole (a vegetable similar to lettuce but which differs from it because it is much more resistant to cold and therefore, congested during the cold season).
It is also usually accompanied with cod, tuna and Arbequina olives.