Geographical Indication Products
Beyond D.O. products, there are very many “official” Catalan products that are known throughout Spain called Indicació Geogràfica Protegida (Geographical Indication) products. The IGP stamp is placed on products to designate that a food is truly from a certain geographical area of Catalunya, which assures the consumer of its quality.
Here are a few of the more popular IGP products that every serious food traveler to the region should make a point of sampling.
Girona Apples (Pomes de Girona): Girona apples are well-known througout Spain for their quality. Several of the varieties that are produced (among them Golden, Red Delicious, Gala and Granny Smith) in Girona are also produced in the U.S., so if you are making something that calls for Girona apples, you’ll be able to find something comparable here. The apples are grown in the “comarcas” of La Selva, Baix and Alt Emporda, el Gironés and el Pla d´Estany.
Agramunt nougat (Torró de Agramunt): Agramunt nougat (named after the town of Agramunt, in the province of Lleida) has its roots in arabic pastrymaking, and was first produced in the 17th century. Like other Spanish turrones, it’s mostly eaten around Christmas, but it can be found in Catalunya year-round.
Turrón de Agramunt is made with 46%-60% almonds or hazelnuts, honey, egg whites and sugar. The resulting mixture is put between two round or square sheets of “pan de angel” (a very delicate and thin wafer). The turrón has two different varieties: extra or supremo depending on the amount of almonds or hazelnuts it contains.
Prades Potatoes (Patates de Prades): Prades potatoes are grown in the Baix Camp comarca in the province of Tarragona. The most popular variety is Kennebec, a delicious white potato with a very high starch level. The cultivation of this high-quality potato is alternated with that of herbs, giving them a special flavor.
Catalan Pyrenees Beef (Vedella dels Pirineus Catalans): Beef raised in the Catalan Pyrenees is of the Bruna species, which is native to the area, and are ometimes crossed with the Charolais and Limousine species. Cattle here feeds only on grass and the calves feed on their mother’s milk until they are 4 months old, which produces a beef unparalleled in its juiciness.
Ratafia Catalana: Ratafia Catalana is a liqueur made from nuts and aromatic plants like anise, chamomile, oregano or cinnamon via hydraulic maceration. The finished product goes through and aging process of 3 months in a wooden barrel, after which the liqueur is bottled in a glass container.
Calçots de Valls: Once a white onion has been replanted in soil, big green onion stalks will emerge, which in Catalan are called Calçots (the name comes from the word “calçar”, which is the act of burying the onion into the soil so that the white part stays that way — since that’s the part that is meant to be eaten). These green stalks grow widely in the comarcas of l´Alt y Baix Camp, el Tarragonés y el Baix Penedés. In Tarragona they are honored every January with a celebration in the town of Valls: la Calçotada.
The Catalan people have a curious saying to help remember when it’s the right season to eat Calçots:
“El gener per a pagès, el febrer per l’amo i el març per al criat.”
“In January for the farmer, in February for the master and in March for the servant.”
Calçots are cooked over an open fire and eaten with a Romesco sauce.
Chicken and capon “del Prat” (Pollastre i capó del Prat): This type of chicken is characterized by its reddish color, blue feet and its crest. It has almost no fat and the meat is extremely tender. The El Prat chicken produced pink colored eggs which weigh about an 1/8 lb. each. Chickens are raised until they reach 77 days, while capons are left to live until 182 days after birth.
These chickens are served year round, and the areas where they are raised (and therefore easier to find in restaurants) are: Prat son Castelldefels, Cornellà de Llobregat, el Prat de Llobregat (where the Barcelona airport is located), Gavà, Sant Boi de Llobregat, Sant Climent de Llobregat, Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Viladecans i Santa Coloma de Cervelló.