Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Vintage Car Rally Barcelona-Sitges (Discover Penedès March 1-3, 2013)

On Sunday, March 3, we will see one of the unique events we have here in the Catalan cava and wine region Penedès, the 55th Vintage Car Rally Barcelona-Sitges (Ral·li de cotxes d’època). Now what is this and why does it go to Sitges (Garraf) at a time of the year when there are not many tourists here?

This vintage car rally is, in fact, not very much of a rally, but rather a parade of old cars, all manufactured in 1928 or earlier. It usually takes place on the first weekend of March and starts in the square plaça de Sant Jaume, in the very centre of Barcelona. From there, the route – lined with spectators –, goes through Hospitalet de Llobregat, Sant Joan Despí, Cornellà, Sant Boi de Llobregat, Viladecans, Gavà and Castelldefels before it reaches the road C-31 along the Garraf nature reserve, where you always have a scenic view over the Mediterranean Sea. However, this road is also very curvy, so a true challenge for these vehicles, some of which spend the rest of the year as exhibition object in museums.

Interestingly, what we nowadays perceive as a natural annual tradition was, in 1959, created on purpose by the tourism board of Sitges (Foment del Turisme de Sitges), with the very objective to attract more visitors during the winter months. And the campaign has been highly successful – the rally which had 28 participating cars on the first occasion, nowadays registers close to a hundred, representing different parts of Spain, the rest of Europe and even the USA.

Fortunately, speed is not the main criteria in this competition. The top prize is for elegance and goes to the vehicle where the driver and passengers are dressed in a way which best matches the manufacturing year of their car and, apart from that, there are five more prizes for best maintenance, with consideration taken to the age of the different vehicles.

Before the Vintage Car Rally reaches its final stop along the beach walk (passeig de la Ribera) of Sitges, it is welcomed by a huge crowd of spectators and a very festive and colourful atmosphere. So, although you can watch it at the starting point or along the road, I truly recommend you to visit us out here.

More recommendations about concerts, guided tours and other events which take place in Garraf, Alt Penedès, Baix Penedès or Anoia during the weekend March 1-3 can be found here.

Discover Penedès!

- - -
My earlier posts on the Vintage Car Rally Barcelona-Sitges:
2008: 50th Anniversary of the Rally Barcelona - Sitges
2010: Too Few Vintage Cars, Too Much Reality

- - -
Find here the organizer’s web.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

What is ‘Xató’ and ‘xatonada popular’? - or: Penedès This Weekend!

If you come to Penedès during the coming weekend February 22-24, you will have the last opportunity for this season to take part in a ‘xatonada popular’. The ‘xatonada’ season starts in November every year – usually in Vilanova i la Geltrú -, and will now be rounded off in two parallel events, in Calafall and Cubelles.

But what is the ‘xató’, this Penedès salad which you eat at a ‘xatonada’? Well, in reality ‘xató’ refers to the dressing, which is so characteristic for this dish that almost all towns in Penedès claim to have the most original and historical recipe. This sauce is always based on breadcrumbs, vinegar, garlic and a Catalan pepper called nyora, but usually also contains hazelnuts and almonds. And then you can anchovies to it – to get a saltier taste -, but then you are most likely from Sitges. Or you can fry the garlic before you crush it – to get a softer taste -, but then you must be from El Vendrell. Or leave out the hazelnuts and almonds, if you have an allergy or if you are from Vilafranca del Penedès… ;)

What everybody then agrees to is that you should serve this sauce on top of a salad consisting of escarole endives, salted cod (bacallà), tuna fish and anchovies, decorated with small, round olives (aberquines) and add a big slice of omelette (truita) if you want a more complete meal.

At a ‘xatonada’ you will have the opportunity to see observe how people prepare this dish – usually in competitions – but also to buy a portion of it and enjoy it with the other visitors.over a glass of Penedès wine.

Now, Penedès has a lot to offer also for those of you who are not interested in this culinary specialty. Full event recommendations in English for this week - covering sports, music, guided tours etc. -, can be found here.

Discover Penedès!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Leave Barcelona and Discover Mediterranean Sceneries in Penedès

The Carnival 2013 has reached its end so in the Catalan cava and wine region Penedès we again return to a calmer rhythm. Having said that, the weekend February 15-17 still has a lot to offer for those of you who want an excuse to leave busy Barcelona and explore something different for a few hours.

What about sardana dancing combined with calçotada in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia (Alt Penedès) or an organized hike up to the peak of Montgrós, just off Sant Pere de Ribes (Garraf), from where you will have a great view over, on one side, the Mediterranean and, on the other, the low mountains in the Garraf and Olèrdola nature reserves?

A presentation of 15 selected events in Penedès during the coming weekend can be found here.

Discover Penedès!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Carnival Recommendations for Sitges and Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf)

February 7-13 is the Carnival Week 2013 and a time when most towns in the cava and wine region Penedès have some local events and traditions, but – like every year -, the two neighbour towns Sitges and Vilanova i la Geltrú compete in a totally separate league – the first for its international flavour and fame, the second for maintaining a traditional and uniquely Catalan format.

In this week’s video I make recommendations on which events I would suggest that you check out, but since - admittedly -, it is much too long I can sum it up even further: Do not miss the comparses and their Sunday candy wars in Vilanova i la Geltrú and make sure to see one (not both) of Sitges’ big carnival parades, Rua de la Disbauxa and Rua de l’Extermini.

At Discover Penedès you will find translations of the official carnival programs for Sitges (in English and Swedish) and Vilanova i la Geltrú (English and Swedish), but also for Calafell (English) and Vilafranca del Penedès (English).

Discover Penedès and remember that during the carnival everything is OK – Per carnaval tot s’hi val!