Scenes from Sant Jordi 2010: It’s All About the Bread
As we explained to you in a previous post, La Diada de Sant Jordi, Sant Jordi Day is the Catalan version of Valentine’s Day, and the day in which the streets and sidewalks of every town in Catalunya fill up with roses and books and — most of all — throngs of people looking to purchase both.
This Sant Jordi was like most others: Barcelona’s streets were overflowing with people huddled around booksellers’ stands, and rushing to and fro with roses in hand. There were literally books and roses to be had on every corner of the Gràcia neighborhood, but we needed to go where the real action was; I made it down to Rambla Catalunya around lunchtime, and the scene was both chaotic and intensely enjoyable. Guerilla style, I whipped out my iPhone to give you a (very) rough glimpse of that I was seeing….
While Sant Jordi is mostly roses and books, there is a culinary angle (and I don’t mean the romantic candlelit dinners): bread.
For this very Catalan holiday, bakers all over Catalunya make a bread that is unmistakably Catalan. Pa de Sant Jordi is baked to mimic the Catalan flag:
Bakeries even set up stands outside of their establishments (as seen in the first photo, taken at Forn Sant Tirs on Gran de Gràcia)…
…and amateur bakers also take to the streets to sell some bread, like this stand seen on Rambla Catalunya in Barcelona:
We at EatCatalunya, with nothing more than the intention of educating our readers, sacrificed ourselves by buying a loaf of Sant Jordi bread and tasting it, just to be able to give you a proper review The one I chose was from Forn Sant Tirs, a solid bakery in a city of hit or miss bread purveyors. Seen at right is the Pa deSant Jordi in its packaging. The nice ladies at Sant Tirs sliced up the bread for me before packing it up, and pointed out that it must be sliced vertically or you won’t get the striped flag effect, nor will each slice contain all of the different flavors.
About those flavors: the colors you see are not the product of dyes or other food colorings, but can be attributed to the delicious ingredients the Pa de Sant Jordi contains. The red is sobrassada, a very soft, spreadable chorizo-like sausage product from Mallorca and the yellow is cheese (mostly the Maó variety). The entire loaf is also sprinkled with walnuts, which gives the bread some texture.
The best thing to me about this bread is the texture. The red stripes are super moist (because of the fat from the sobrassada), but the yellow ones are a bit firmer so it holds together quite well (you can see a video [in Catalan, but it's pretty visual] about how Pa de Sant Jordi is made here).
This is probably meant to be eaten alone, but I went ahead and paired it up with some cured ham, a selection of cheeses and other random items. I didn’t eat those things on top of the bread so as not to contaminate the flavor, but I found that it went well as something to eat on the side and, most of all, as an accompaniment to some good Catalan wine.
The selection for the night of Sant Jordi was Més Que Paraules (“More Than Words”) 2006 (D.O. Pla de Bages) from the Jaumandreu winery. This wine is 100% Merlot, which doesn’t tend to be my favorite grape. However, I really liked this wine and in my unexpert opinion, it comes on very softly and finishes with a strong note, which I like. It went really well with the ham, and was a steal at just 7 euros for a bottle at my favorite wine store in Barcelona (so far), Celler Can Dani. Their selection of Catalan wines is endless, and prices are fair.
Sant Jordi is a fun holiday, and I hope you get to experience it at least once. If you ever plan to come to town in spring, try to make it around April 23rd to get in on the action. Or, if you happen to be in London, we’re told that Borough Market — sister market to Barcelona’s Boquería — also puts together a Sant Jordi themed celebration there as well (thanks, Serge the Concierge for that info!)