Posted in Out of town, tagged apples, artichokes, cycling, farmhouses, figs, masias, olives, Parc Agrari del Baix Llobregat, tomatoes on July 11, 2011 |
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Head out of Barcelona in almost every direction and you will encounter the belt of industry that circles the city. The container port, chemical plants, factories, hypermarkets, converging motorways and airport must be crossed before reaching the riches of the Catalan countryside. However, south of the city in the Llobregat river delta, ensnared by all of the above, is an oasis of agriculture in the protected nature park of the Baix Llobregat (pronounced bash-youbraygat). Easily reached from the city by bike or train, here old masia farmhouses and horticulture whisk you away from the hum of traffic and modern life in the background.
Artichokes are king here and those from El Prat, the location of this park, are renowned in Catalonia. The peak harvest had passed and parched fields of dried flowers were generally all that remained, although others were blossoming in time for the next harvest.
Orchards of olives, apples and figs are dotted around the plantations and the intoxicating perfume of the ripening figs combined with being a good distance away from the hum of the traffic gives the feeling of a Mediterranean paradise. This is truly local produce as well and I urge you to look for fruit and vegetables from this region when out making purchases. It’s worth making a trip out here for a walk or cycle, but be warned there is no shade or shelter and the late afternoon July sun was quite punishing. Go armed with a better map than I did also if on two wheels, getting stuck amongst the chemical plants of Zona Franca on the return journey and unable to find any exit that didn’t take me onto a roaring highway slightly took the charm off the trip. But like a good Yorkshire homing pidgeon I got there in the end. Parc Agrari del Baix Llobregat – arrive by RENFE to Cornellà, metro to Cornellà-Centre or FGC to Cornellà-Riera
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I’ve just got back to Barcelona after two weeks in the UK and am feeling distinctly podgier after being well fed and watered by my cherished family and friends back home. I’ve never had myself down as a typical Brit; I like and respect British food but I don’t particularly crave it or miss it a great deal and rarely go out of my way here to hunt down anything more than golden syrup for baking or the odd bit of Stilton. Maybe it’s the ‘want what you can’t have’ principal but I’ve surprised myself with my sudden enthusiasm and desire for as many British foods as possible from the minute I stepped off the plane.
The Warburton’s crumpets were a disappointment but a reminder that I really must have a bash at making them fresh one day and the Yorkshire parkin from the Cannon Hall Farm Shop on the Huddersfield/Barnsley border was overly dry although this may have had more to do with our post-party parched mouths than the quality of their baking.
But the Long Clawson Stilton, several bottles of Weston’s Organic Cider (without ice, why would you want to put ice in cider?) amongst others whose names I can’t remember, Cheshire dry cured smoked bacon and traditional pork sausages were a welcome reminder of good English fayre and eased the pain of the distinct lack of decent grocers in my old Manchester neighbourhood.
And finally, what could be better after a bank holiday weekend’s partying excesses than a home cooked roast
Hello roast, it's been a while.
complete with cute, hastily made place settings by my friend’s daughter Amelia
Amelia puts us in our place
and rounded off with sweet ‘Bridgewater Canal blackberry and Barrow apple crumble’
'Bridgewater Canal and Barrow apple crumble'
which took it’s name from an afternoon’s picking from the local waterside and Amelia’s recent visit to Grandma’s caravan in Cumbria?
A true ‘taste of home’.
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