Blossoms in Catalonia

If someone says cherry blossoms, you probably picture Japan, but an area in Catalonia near Tivissa now has the largest cherry growing area in Europe. Cerima cherries supplies many UK supermarkets, but some of their largest cherries retailing at around a euro each get flown to Dubai. The land is located in the Ribera d’Ebre region, Tarragona, Spain, which has a well-known privileged climatology. This region is located by the Ebro river, which creates an exceptional microclimate that allows the first cherries to be harvested in April and finish in July. The trees are pruned elegantly to achieve maximum fruit. The region used to produce wine, not a fine one so cherries are more profitable.

But in Spring, the blossoms range from almond with its delightful scent to pale and deep pinks of apples and pears. Almonds feature in lots of the cooking. At this time of year “calcottes” which look like young leeks are barbecued and wrapped in newspaper. You the hold the end and pull a soft white Centre from the charred outer leaves to dip in a special tomato and almond sauce. Very messy to eat, but delicious!

Almond blossom

Barbecuing Spanish style

But if wine tasting rather than blossom hunting is your favourite pastime, then this area has lots to offer. Visit Priorat and have lunch at Gratallops and enjoy deep dark reds or go to Gandesa to see the Gaudi style wine co-operative centre and sample delicious white Grenache wines from Terra Alta.

My final recommendation is a trip to Horta St Joan. The magnificent national park dels Ports offers great walking with wonderful views and it was some of these views which inspired a young Picasso. Although the town itself set on a Hill was what set him down the road of cubism. A small museum in the centre of the old town tells of the time he spent there and his friendship with the locals.

National Park – Del Ports
The view of Horta that led to Picasso’s cubism

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