Amazingly Penedes is only an hours drive from Barcelona and it is one of the best wine producing areas in the world. The Cava production is centred around the town of Villafranca. Penedes has indigenous varieties and does exceedingly well with Bordeaux varieties Cabernet and Merlot as well…thank you very much!
I was taken on a guided tour from Maria Rosa Cardona of Cava house Rovellats where they keep many Cava wines on the lees for up to 6 years. Maria has been in a family Cava House since she was a girl and is a wine professional and something of a Spanish celebrity!She is “instantly recognized and hugged” in any number of sophisticated hotels, bars and restaurants in Barcelona and has quite an adoring fan club, for good reason!
We had lunch at a local restaurant that is more known for its kitchen then any fancy décor. Restaurant “Sant Jordi” (Cal la Katy) in the village of Sant Marti Samoa (Vilafranca Ctra Sant Martí, km. 8 at 3 kms from Rovellats winery) was a real gem!
We chose from the Menu del Dia, (generally advisable) as it is the freshest and most seasonal produce. We sampled a local cullinary delight, the most typical of Catalan salads XATO consisting of raw Codfish (Bacala), anxhoa (anchovies) olives Tuna,”escarole” wth romesco red sauce(a sauce made from red peppers) and some deep fried calamari so succulent and fresh! (I could have killed for another serving!). This was accompanied by a Cava…Cava Rovelats…with refreshing acidity and good balance, an excellent aperitif and sufficient complexity to be a serious food wine.
Main course was duck “Anel mut del Penedes rostit ambwi”, which was Catalan duck with fruits like oranges and prunes and pinenuts. The idea is to combine the sweet flavours with the Salty duck. This black duck is unique to Penedes and has tender flesh and little fat (the bird originally came from the Amazon in South America).
The dish was accompanied by an excellent, if unpretentious local Penedes red wine Bru de Tador,(made by ROVELATS) a blend of Cabernet.Grenache and Merlot and it was redolent of black fruits of the forest, excellent balance and mouthfeel and frankly a perfect wine for the rich flesh of the duck.
Dessert was a plate of fresh sliced oranges a la Chinoise, sliced across section (which actually gives oranges a different flavor and intensity) and the fruit was drizzled with olive oil and cinnamon! Interesting and delicious, yet so simple!
Sant Jordi – Cal la Katty
At first glance this unasumming place on the side of the main road past Sant Marti Sarrocca towards Vilafranca looks like a service cafe, but once inside you get to meet the very friendly Torrents family. What these people dont know about cooking is not worth knowing. They are experts. They do a lovely simple menu of the day for around €11 a head. The food is ALWAYS fresh that day and delicous. Please mention you are guests of Casa del Vino from Torrelles and you will be well looked after.
Restaurant specialising in Penedès cuisine: xató, Penedès style roast duck with prunes and pine-nuts, duck stew with king prawns and wild mushrooms, Penedès cockerel civet, stewed pigs’ trotters and homemade desserts.
Throughout the year they organise several gastronomic conferences on subjects such as Cuisine for Lent, Blue fish, Wild mushrooms and Poultry and offer a wide range of wines and cavas from the Penedès and a small selection of wines from other DOs.
Private dining rooms. Price: à la carte from 20 €, weekday set menu 9 €.
Weekdays and Bank Holidays: from 9 a.m. to 12 midnight. Sunday and Monday nights closed.
Article Written by Axel Ritenis
Editor of Connoisseur Magazine