|Photo taken from Catalunya.com|
Catalonia is an autonomous region of Spain having it's own language, history and it's own culture. Catalan people are very proud to call themselves so, and as I have found on one or two occasions, will often correct you for calling them Spanish. But it's easy to see why they are so proud.
|Casa Botlla. Photo from Moyan Brenn under CCL|
Take a trip outside of the city and you will find some the most breath taking countryside outside of Yorkshire. Stunning scenes of agriculture and beautiful villas set against a backdrop of The Pyrenees.
Secondly, and for me more importantly, was the food and wine. Catalonia is foodie heaven! Market stalls serving up the freshest ingredients and Nouveau cuisine being served up in some of the worlds finest restaurants. Inspiration is taken from in land as well as The Mediterranean with the famous 'May Y Montana', a Catalan take on Surf and Turf, and Butifarra, an uncured spiced sausage, can be found everywhere and is well worth checking out. What struck me the most was the constant innovation whilst still maintaining the utmost respect and admiration for tradition.While I didn't have the pleasure of eating at El Bulli, what I did find stoked my passion for Mediterranean flavours and opened my eyes to a world of food I never knew existed at the time.
|Photo taken from catalunya.com|
With good food, comes good wine. Catalonia is home to some of Spain's finest wine regions. One of my favourites being Priorat. Located in the South West of Catalonia, Priorat's predominant varieties include Garnacha Tinta, Carinena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. The reds produced are often deep and muscular and have undergone a period of oak and bottle ageing. If you look here, you'll find great walking or cycling tours of the Priorat vineyards.
It is also home to some of the biggest names in the wine industry. Familia Torres set up the first Bodega opposite the train station in Vilafranca. Since then they have gone on to produce some amazing wines, many of which you will see on a supermarket shelf. Names such as Vina Sol and Sangre de Toro may be familiar.
I was sent two bottles of beautiful wine to remind me of my time spent there.
Gran Vina Sol, a blend of Chardonnay and Parellada. On the nose it's rich and buttery with a good whiff of stone fruit. On the palate the flavours of white peach, toasted nuts and vanilla are matched only by it's intensity.
Gran Coronas is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Penedes. It's prominent nose of cassis, cedar and dried herbs leaps from the glass. The cassis theme carries on on the palate with more herbaceous notes and a juicy berry finish.
Can't wait to get over there? The both these wines are available from The Drink Shop. £9.26 for The Gran Vina Sol and £11.53 for The Gran Coronas.
The Lasting Effect.
Whenever I'm visiting somewhere new, I'm always left with lasting memories of bit and pieces that particularly took me. With Catalonia, I pretty much fell in love with the entire place. Before going, my knowledge of Catalonia was just Gaudi and Leo Messi (who is actually Argentinian), but as soon as I arrived I was immersed in an entirely new culture. What I loved so much is that it does it without it feeling forced. It's a culture you want to explore more of, food you want to eat more of and wine you definitely want to drink more of, mainly because it will make you a better dancer.
If you're not just looking for a change of scenery but to be completely surrounded by new experiences, go to Catalonia
This has been written in association with the Catalonia Tourist Board. All content and opinions are my own.