In recent years, thanks to the international fame achieved by Catalan chefs, the cuisine of the region has been recognised as one of the best in the world. It's not unusual to find Catalan names such as Ferran Adria and Carme Ruscalleda featured in the pages of high class magazines and topping the rankings of prestigious journals and gastronomic foundations. Barcelona is the capital of the Mediterranean diet, a cuisine based on a tradition spanning 600 years. Olive oil - particularly that made from the local arbequina olive - vegetables, fruit, fish and fresh seafood, pulses, nuts, pig products, herbs and desserts, varied, are the fundamental elements Catalan diet. The local speciality dishes include escalivada (a salad of roast vegetables) and samfaina (a type of Catalan ratatouille). Cured meats and sausages such as butifarra, longaniza and fuet are essential elements of Barcelona cuisine as is salt cod used to make the esquixada salad. And, of course, a wide variety of fresh fish and rice dishes. Meals are often accompanied by the classic pan tumaca (a slice of country-style bread with tomato and oil, or coca (thin bread dough baked with onions, peppers and sausage).
High class pastries and wines
Desserts, with crema catalana (creme brûlee) in the starring role are also a delight for food lovers visiting the region. The wide variety of first rate wines and champagne available deserve special mention. The guarantee of their quality lies in the labels - Priorat, Penedes, Alella etc. - all awarded recognition as controlled and protected wines. They are made from a special blend of traditional grapes such as peralada, samso and garro, typical of Catalan wine-making, coupled with internationally recognised varieties such as cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.
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