After living in Barcelona for almost two years I have to say, I’m still madly in love with this place. I adore the steady pace of life and the serene Mediterranean sky is irreplaceable. I take great pride in the land of Catalonia, especially its cuisine. To begin, since it’s the first entry after all, we’ll start with the basics. And there’s nothing more quintessential and wholesome than pa amb tomáquet, bread with tomato. The pure satisfaction of its simplicity underscores how less is always more and with quality ingredients there’s no room for fuss. The mixture of garlic, tomato, salt and olive oil leaves an unforgettable taste.
The brilliant combination of these common ingredients epitomizes what Barcelona stands for- effortless pleasure and surprise.
Catalonia produces a special variety of tomatoes specifically for the purpose of smearing bread called tomáquets de penjar, hanging tomatoes. The seeds are planted in early spring then harvested in fall.
A string is passed through the stem of each tomato by hand then the collective bunch is hung from ceilings. The tomatoes can last for 4-6 months when stored properly in a cool dark place. These golf ball sized gems are exclusively used for bread with tomato for one unique reason- they produce an astonishing amount of juice! Pa amb tomáquet is generally served as an appetizer along with cured meats and cheese.
Unless you’re reading from the Catalonia region chances are you don’t have access to hanging tomatoes. No fear, a plump tomato can do the trick as well. You can use a cheese grater to extract the juice and pulp.
- Artisan rustic bread with a thick crust and dense center (baguette and ciabatta work as well) in slices
- Ripe tomatoes, cut in half or a small bowl of tomato pulp collected from a cheese grater
- Quality extra virgin olive oil, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- 1 clove of garlic, cut in half
Toast bread (grilled is even better)
Scrape garlic half gently over bread (2-3 rubs is enough)
Either smear tomato half over bread or spoon a generous amount of tomato pulp
Top with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt
Serve with an assortment of cheese, cured meat and mucho amor!
*Click on hanging tomatoes photo to connect to a Catalan blog for more on this dish.