Cooking with Alex at Cal Compte, in the Heart of the Priorat

A 50-minute flight from Bordeaux to Barcelona, followed by a 1.5-hour train ride down the Costa Daurada to Reus, and I’m greeted at the train station by Alex Frisch, Resident Chef of Cal Compte guesthouse in Torroja. He’s here as every Tuesday to visit the local market, chat with the vendors and do some shopping.…

One Last Calçotada out in the Priorat

As our impending move to Bordeaux began to finally sink in, and I started counting our remaining days in blue-skyed Barcelona, my mind began to race, composing interminable lists of favorite things. Favorite last things. One last 3-wine nightcap on Plaza del Sol with the girls. One last wild night out with them, one last late-night falafel bowl, one last…

The Octopus and the Hare at La Cooperativa in Porrera

On a recent excursion to Priorat wine country I acted the tour guide for my mother and my man. I lead them to the little cottage in the mountains of Montsant, which I had called home for close to six months. We walked through the town of Poboleda and had a beer on the terrace of ye olde La Venta. I…

A Cozy Winter Lunch at La Venta

It’s gotten cold up in the mountains of the Priorat as of late. While I sit in my brightly lit and climate-controlled Barcelona apartment my colleagues gather dry wood in early afternoon darkness, twigs with which to make a fire, not recreationally. There’s no marshmallows or campsite stories going around. It’s just a part of the routine. I…

Paella at Can Pep near Siurana Lake

The pristine, blue gem that is the Siurana Lake offers a wonderful escape from the sticky, salty seawater and looming influx of summertime tourism on the beaches of Barcelona. It’s a place to get away and enjoy fresh mountain air, while sunning on a dock, surrounded by silence. Every once in a while a family or two will set…

That Time Chef Jocky Cooked in a Vineyard

WRITTEN IN NOVEMBER, 2014 IN PRIORAT, SPAIN I haven’t been to too many restaurants in the past month but I’ve been eating well for the most part. On some days it’s defrosted ragout dumped over still quite crunchy pasta cooked on a stove whose gas source doubles as a hot water heater for the shower.…

Pork Knuckles at El Cau in Poboleda

El Cau is the local watering hole in the Priotari town of Poboleda, packed for lunchtime every day of the week. Part of their success has to do with location – it’s the first restaurant you pass on the drive into town from the direction of Cornudella. Parked in front are cars, vans and tractors; parked inside are hungry vineyard…

Els Brots: Haute Noms in Poboleda

Dining options in the Priorat are somewhat limited and each town offers only one or two places that are really worth stopping at for more than just beer and good company. Siurana has Els Tallers; Cornudella has Al Toll and Refugi, Poboleda has La Terrasseta and El Cau. And then, of course, there’s La Venta. I…

Cargols and Boar Estofat in Porrera

On weekends we used to go town-hopping; poking around the Priorat, lookin’ for trouble. Sometimes we’d climb the rock walls of mountains near the medieval town Siurana. Other times we’d walk through Poboleda, Cornudella, Prades, looking for cultural events with which to breathe life into our barren social calendar. When there was a dance, a festival, a bar opening we’d…

Braç de Gitano from Forn de Pà Floro

Floro also happens to be quite the wiseass. One time my colleague (rhetorically) asked him how he is capable of baking such consistently delicious breads without anyone’s help and he responded, “Well, how do you put your underwear on in the morning without anyone’s help?” I’m still not sure I understand what that means. Maybe his riddles take time to untangle.