SLB went to Rosita & the Sherry Bar in Northcote Rd Battersea for a calçotada. I’d never heard of a calçotada before so had to do a bit of research and it turns out that a calçot (pronounced calsot) is a kind of cross between a spring onion and a leek and they’re very popular in Catalonia in north-east Spain. In fact, the town of Valls near Tarragona specialises in the production of calçots, so much so that they are a protected ‘denomination’ rather like certain wines and cheeses. Every year in the winter months, Valls and many other places have festivals to celebrate the calçot harvest called ‘calçotadas’.
We started with some nibbles – almonds, olives, crispy aubergine – before getting down to the serious business of eating our calçots, which are cooked on a charcoal grill till the outside is quite burnt. It’s all quite messy (liked that!) so you put on a bib before eating, then while holding the top of the calçot, you pull down on the root at the bottom, and the centre appears, which you dip in romesco sauce (a tasty dip traditionally made from nuts, red chillies and roast tomatoes), hold up in the air and aim at your mouth. It’s not sophisticated eating but its a whole lot of fun and the calcots actually taste quite good!
This was followed, in typical Catalan style, by barbecued meat, including lamb chops, pork loin and various types of tasty sausage served with hand cut chips and little gem salad with tuna pickle. All of this was washed down with copious amounts of a lovely pink cava, Vilarnau rose, or sherry if you wished, and rounded off with a nice Crema Catalana with cinnamon ice cream. It was a veritable feast, with more than our party could eat – you can have the calçotada experience at Rosita’s for £35.00, including half bottle of cava per person on Thursday 26th February and Wednesday 11th March.
Rosita & the Sherry Bar is a different concept to its sister restaurant Lola Rojo, just down the road. As you’d expect, sherry forms a central part of the experience here, with a wide range supplied by the renowned Gonzales Byass, and it was very pleasant to sample the different varieties on offer. It brought back memories of my travels in Andalucia, and in particular, my visits to the most famous sherry bar of them all, El Pimpi in Malaga. In contrast, Catalans hardly touch the stuff, so it was interesting to chat with our host, Christina from Barcelona, and get a feeling for her perhaps unusual passion for this wine which is becoming increasingly fashionable in London.
There’s no doubt you could spend a very pleasant evening at Rosita’s sampling some of the pride of Andalucia along with various tapas and other dishes (at very reasonable prices) in a friendly and relaxed environment.