Architecture and cuisine may seem like pleasures with very little in common, as they are quite distinct art forms, but if you know where to go, you’ll often find they coincide. Have you ever dreamt of dining in a wonderful historical setting? Doesn’t a good meal taste better after a morning exploring awesome places? The Romanesque art route in Catalonia combines perfectly with culinary desires and the pleasures of the dining table. Churches, castles and monasteries are found the length and breadth of Catalonia, which, among other things, is a land with a long culinary history where any gourmet who so desires can come to eat, drink and enjoy themselves. Do you want to visit historical monuments or satisfy your palate? Both are possible if you take our advice.
The north of the province of Barcelona and the westernmost area of Girona is a splendid place to enjoy the best charcuterie. The local specialty is ‘fuet’, a dried pork sausage made with a traditional recipe and top quality ingredients. You can try it while
exploring the Romanesque heritage, as the Museu Episcopal de Vic—which has an interesting collection of medieval paintings—offers a route that also takes in the Casa Riera Ordeix, an artisanal charcuterie company that makes the famous ‘llonganissa de Vic’. A good opportunity to find out about the production process and to try this prized traditional delicacy.
Catalonia is a paradise for mycologists, or mushroom specialists, and in particular those who know the difference between which ones are safe to eat and which are inedible, and how to make them into spectacular delicacies. When the rains fall, the forest areas abound in mushrooms, and no region has more variety than Berguedà. You can eat the mushrooms by themselves—with mouthwatering sauces—or use them to garnish game dishes, and they are certainly as varied as the churches in the area—from Santa Maria de la Baells to La Trinitat de la Tor—, boasting over 70 medieval buildings that mark out one the most spectacular Catalan Romanesque art routes.
There are several foods that are typical of Catalonia—charcuterie and mushrooms among them as we have seen—, but one of the most distinctive are the ‘caragols’ or escargots. Prepared properly, escargots is a delicious delicacy and fun to eat, and is particularly notable in the city of Lleida and its surroundings. If you decide to make Lleida your base of operations for exploring the northern regions of Pallars Jussà and Vall d’Aran, set aside at least a lunch or dinner to eat escargots, served here with sauce and roasted, a recipe known as ‘caragols a la llauna’.
The best Catalan Romanesque art is in the north, almost where the highest peaks of the Pyrenees begin to rise up: in Vall d’Aran, Cerdanya and the regions of Girona bordering France. We’ve already recommended these routes, which pass through towns such as Viella or Besalú, but they also boast a wide-ranging and appetizing local cuisine based on meat and mountain livestock, which feed on the green meadows in the area. If you want to try the best veal cuts or the ‘trinxat de la Cerdanya’—a dish of shredded potato and cabbage with pieces of bacon—, to say nothing of the ‘olla aranesa’—a meat and vegetable stew—, the north is your place.
As well as traditional cuisine, Catalonia has several of the most prestigious creative cuisine restaurants in the world, and if you organize your route with care and, above all, time—some have waiting lists of several months—, you can combine your visit to the historic center of Girona and its cathedral with dinner at El Celler de Can Roca, or the Romanesque art route in Barcelona and a tasting menu in restaurants with chefs as renowned as Albert Adrià (Tickets), Jordi Artal (Cinc Sentits), Romain Fornell (Caelis) or Jordi Cruz (ABaC). Medieval art and culinary modernity go hand in hand.