Exploring Catalonia’s favourite food and wines
From earthy mushrooms to sweet sea bream, Tarragona is a wild food paradise. As a Mediterranean port city, it benefits from a rugged and beautiful coastline, with seafood specialties high on the menu. Start your culinary adventure at Terra Dominicata– a luxury getaway in the Montsant foothills – where you can discover the hotel's winemaking heritage and sample a vintage from their vast cellar.
BEGIN AT THE MARKET
For a tasty introduction to Catalonia’s food scene, look no further than the Mercat Central de Tarragona. As well as fresh fish, meat, and vegetable stalls, the cafés and restaurants serve a diverse selection of dishes ranging from omelettes to oysters. From here, you can explore the city on foot, taking in the spectacular Roman remains and Gothic architecture. Step back into the 2nd century in the atmospheric Tarragona Amphitheatre, and visit the Tarragona Cathedral before looping back via the 1st century ruins of Circ Romà.
FORAGE FOR FUNGI
Autumn in Catalonia means one thing for foodies: mushrooms. With a habitat that’s heaven for fungi, Tarragona is fast becoming a hub for mushroom and truffle hunters. One of the most prolific foraging spots is El Poblet – reflected in the small fee required for entry into the area. However, once you’ve picked up your permit, you’re allowed to fill your boots (and your bags) with as many mushrooms as you can pick in a day.
First-time foragers might prefer to take a mushroom-hunting tour - if you’ve not picked edible fungi before, it’s a good idea to have an expert on hand to teach you what’s safe and where to begin your search.
MAKE A SPLASH
Fishing in Tarragona is relaxing and rewarding – whether it’s sport or for supper. In the spring and summer months, the Catalonian coasts are rich in sardines and mackerel, with swordfish and Bluefin tuna also making appearances. Winter brings sea bream and bass, with year-round fishing charters leaving from various points around the coast.
If you prefer your seafood without the sport, head to the Serrallo district for some exceptional fish restaurants. Ca l'Eulàlia and L’Ancora del Serrallo are among the highlights, with L’Ancora’s boat-styled interior adding a splash of maritime décor to your dining. When eating out, be sure to sample Catalonia’s famous seafood paella, or the Tarragonian favourite, cassola de romesco – casserole cooked with fish and tender calçot onions. The recipes can vary wildly, but each chef will assure you that theirs is the best!
SAMPLE THE REGION’S WINES
The wines characteristic of Tarragona are unpretentious, fruity, and distinctly Mediterranean. There are exceptional vineyards dotted throughout the region, with the majority stretching along the coastal hills south of Barcelona. From Terra Dominicata in the Montsant Mountains, you’re well placed for viniculture – be sure to visit the working winery and pair your finds with the mouth-watering regional dishes at Alma Mater restaurant.
IN THE FESTIVAL SPIRIT
With the arrival of Summer comes the Tàrraco a Taula food festival. Originally part of the Tàrraco Viva Roman culture festival, Tárraco a Taula has quickly become shorthand for re-inventing Roman recipes. Add to this the DO Tarragona Wine Fair in June, and the Castañada festival (celebrating the humble chestnut), and you have a calendar that’s bursting with flavour.