Spring onions, calçots and Mas Costa

Spring onions, which we planted last fall from seed, are up and beautiful this April.  Along with nettles, bear’s garlic, asparagus and strawberries, early spring onions are, for me, an ingredient that fairly sings of spring.  Toss them in salads, sprinkle them on soups, over cold asparagus and grilled fish, fold them into mashed potatoes, roast them with a splash of olive oil and lemon…spring is here, so eat it up!

Spring onions also put me in mind of a recent visit to Mas Costa in Spanish Catalonia, near the town of Besalú.  Mas Costa is the magnificent  guest house run by former Seattle-ite James Miller and his wife Kaire, who owned much loved Seattle bakery Cafe Besalú. They sold the cafe in 2017 and moved to, you got it, Besalú, Spain, where they purchased and restored an old farmhouse or “mas”.  The amount of work they did is really astounding (check out their Instagram page if you need to feel guilty of about all the projects you never get around to). The end result is really stunning, set in between  forest and farmland, a wonderful place to hike or bike or just idle.

During our stay at Mas Costa, James and Kaire prepared a Calçotada,  a tradition of the region, more than a meal, more like a celebration of spring.  Spring onions particular to Catalonia, called calçots, are  grilled, still dirty from the garden, over very hot wood coals, then peeled of their blackened outer layers and dredged through home-made romesco sauce and devoured. Its the sort of meal where everyone eats standing up and balancing a glass of cold rosé.  They completed the meal with fresh sardines, local sausages and marinated rabbit on the grill, a big green salad and Jame’s own crusty bread.  Wonderful!

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