It was with heavy hearts and hungry bellies that we awoke on Wednesday – This was going to be our last full day at Catacurian! We had a quick breakfast and headed out the door, marginally tardy for an appointment at the town cooperative.

It seems that many towns in Spain – even tiny ones – have some kind of local cooperative organization. We actually walked from the Catacurian house to the El Masroig cooperative (remember, 400 people—check out their fancy website!). Cooperativa El Masroig is a big, local cooperative where folks bring their raw materials (such as olives and grapes) to be made into wine or olive oil to sell to the public. Additionally, the co-op sold olive oil soaps, locally-grown hazelnuts and almonds, and even some touristy, sexually-themed t-shirts (!).

As we rounded the corner towards the entrance, we saw that a man driving a tractor had arrived immediately before we had. He was using the tractor to haul a load of freshly-picked grapes that were ready to be pressed for wine.


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Once we finished up in the Gaudi Centre, we headed back out to the streets of Reus to do a little shopping, pick up our compras from the market from earlier that morning, and enjoy an early lunch.


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Finally posting for Day 5, folks – with apologies for the delay! I never dreamed there would be this much to DO just to get back to “normal” after being on vacation for a few weeks! Sheesh!

We planned to have an early morning to give us time to head over to a nearby town for the day. Breakfast was quick: fruit, granola, yogurt, and some of those gorgeous tempranillo grapes from the winery visit the day before. Yum! A scratchy throat sent me in the direction of hot tea instead of coffee, which earned me a sound finger-wagging about sleeping with the A/C on. Alicia sternly lectured me about the importance of sleeping in the ambient (read: sweltering) temperature and of keeping my neck well-covered ferchrissakes, especially if my throat was feeling scratchy.

You see, you may not realize this, but in Spain, air conditioning is generally viewed as something like the spawn of Satan. If you use it, you are practically begging to catch pneumonia. All that cold air, that rapid difference between the ambient “real” temperature and the “fake” A/C temperature only serves to weaken your body and forces your throat to get sick according to many Spaniards. What’s more, if you use the A/C and have a naked neck, you may as well write your epitaph.

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Breakfast at Catacurian just gets better and better. Day 4 dawned bright and early, and welcomed us downstairs with open arms and a goat cheese tortilla sandwich. Muy buenos días, indeed! We were absolutely thrilled with this simple and filling breakfast option. Alicia took this opportunity to remind us that “goat cheese tortilla” is most definitely NOT the same thing as “tortilla española,” since tortilla española contains only eggs, salt, and potatoes.

Our first stop would be the Costers del Siurana winery, creators of the reknowned Clos de l’Obac wines.


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Well, after some crazy and stressful flight-missing and rescheduling in Chicago, F and I have finally returned safe and sound to our dear (and 60-degree!) Emerald City. I will post about the remaining days of our Catacurian adventure this week, and probably will post some photos after that of our travels throughout Spain. We had a fabulous and super-fulfilling time overall, and look forward to returning soon–especially to our new favorite city, Barcelona.

While you wait on the edge of your seat for the remaining scoop on Catacurian, I invite you to enjoy three of our favorite Spanish travel lessons:

1. Regional vocabulary differences can have interesting results. Case in point: The famous dish callos madrileños. Callos, in many parts of Latin America, can mean “scallops.” We learned that, in Madrid, callos actually means “tripe.”
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Sorry for the delay, folks – We’ve left lovely Barcelona and are now in Madrid with dear friends we haven’t seen in nearly 9 years! I hope you didn’t give up on hearing more about our adventures!

Day 3 at Catacurian was just as marvelous as Day 2. I had a good night’s sleep, and didn’t wake up once (let’s hear it for dissipation of jet lag, woot!). We were off and running from pretty early in the day to go see a teeny stretch of 80 year-old Grenache vines. Alicia’s friend and accountant Jaume had created a teeny-tiny winemaking outfit called Ficaria, which comes from the word for “fig” in Latin and Catalán. He was a delight to chat with, and the view over his small vineyard was stunning.

The view from Jaume's parcel of 80 year-old grapevines


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Sorry, folks, I haven’t forgotten! More to come soon, I promise…All with Catacurian got better and better, and I spent the one night I was flying solo in Barcelona in the company of a lovely 70-something man who served as my gallant and oh-so-respectful tour guide. Love the architecture, love the faces of the people, don’t love quite so much the hot, humid weather, but first impressions are delightful so far. Fernando arrived yesterday and we went out with old friends whom we hadn’t seen in a long time, and today we’ll be doing some touristy things before heading out to a “casa del campo” where our friends will spend the weekend – so we’ll get to see a bunch of different things. I have not forsaken those of you who are anxious to hear more about our cooking adventures – stay tuned!! oxox

Some 80-year old grenache vines and grapes to tide you over till the next real post

Lunchtime brought yet another marvelous meal. We began with an appetizer of tiny peppers stuffed with goat cheese, and more cured meats: jamón ibérico, salchichón, and chorizo.

The main dish was a savory rice dish served with tiny monkfish. The monkfish is the hideous gelatinous-looking fish that you see in the fresh fish display at the Pike Place Fish Market. You may recall the monkfish as the one that, when children or elegant ladies approach, lips curled, to more closely examine how disgusting the darn thing looks, the guys behind the counter quickly pull a cord attached to the fish’s mouth, making it appear to “snap” at whoever is nearby and scaring the bejeezus out of the ladies or children.
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Day 2 in Catacurian began early for me – I didn’t sleep well, and kept waking up. Finally I threw in the towel at 5am, and got up to sit outside on the balcony to take in the morning. As the sun came up, the light crept over the countryside, and looked gorgeous. It was a beautiful morning.


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Post-siesta, and more-than-a teeny-bit-jet-lagged, all of us awoke with a pretty heavy head. Nevertheless, we soldiered downstairs and found this scene. Alicia was ready for us!

Ready to cook!

Each station had a cutting board, two knives, an apron, a dishtowel, and a cold glass of iced water. That iced water was especially nice, since temps that first day hit 100 degrees and we all felt a little wilted.
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Once we took a few minutes to freshen up, it was time to enjoy a Catacurian-style welcome lunch.

On the menu: Fresh figs; apple paté and green peppercorn paté; rosemary manchego cheese, an incredible local goat cheese, and some other kind of cheese.

Figs, fresh off the tree

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Fernando  dropped me off at the airport at the hair-raising hour of 4:25am. Nary a café was open, which was probably fine, since at that time, I don’t think I would have managed to choke down a cup of coffee anyway.

I must say, it has been a rather eventful morning so far. In the couple of hours I’ve been here already:

  • I have discovered there is a women’s fitness magazine named “Glutes, ” dedicated to providing tips on sculpting your sexiest backside.
  • I have seen two Euro-dudes dressed like cowboys, complete with jaunty neck kerchief. I actually smelled them before I saw them, as they both had evidently taken a bath in Drakkar Noir before arriving at the airport. Gah.
  • I have seen one burly tattooed guy displaying the teeniest black lace thong – clearly visible over the waistband of his ultra low-rise jeans when he bent over in his chair to get something out of his bag.

And it isn’t even 6am yet!
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