Springtime in El Priorat

Springtime in El Priorat

Spring is my favourite time of year and my kids have a long Easter break so we decided to go back to El Priorat. Two years ago we went hiking there and had such fun. El Priorat is a wine region with beautiful landscapes of vinyards, olive and almond orchards, and rugged mountain hikes. The wines are wonderful and the region is charming and not overly developed, there are little towns where you can eat, wineries to visit, and gorgeous hikes.

El Priorat is part of Catalunya in the province of Tarragona, so it's an easy drive for us from Barcelona. A client and friend of mine had directed me to a small Bed & Breakfast called Mas Figueres where they only have 6 bedrooms, a friendly proprietress, and a pleasant slow food breakfast (www.masfigueres.com/ca/). The extra bonus is that Quima loves cats, so we brought our kitties on vacation. It was their second road trip and they were a bit stressed out at first but then they settled down and found their travel vibe.

Road trippin' kitties

This year Easter was early, but there was fortunately lots of wild asparagus on the trails that we hiked. My hunter-gatherer instincts go into full speed when I hike in areas with wild mushrooms or asparagus. We picked plenty of asparagus both years we came here, and took them to our B&B to be cooked into an enormous breakfast omelette. I get an incredible satisfaction from finding and eating food in nature, it's a simple pleasure that reconnects me to my senses. We haven't been mushroom exploring there yet, but we plan to go back in the fall to take a mushroom foraging and identification class. We find many of mushrooms close to home, but there are only a few that I feel comfortable in positively identifying well enough to take them home to cook and eat!

Hunting the wild asparagus!

There is an impressive array of hikes that are mapped and available in printed leaflets or online. I particularly like the hike we took through a canyon from Marça to Capçanes through a river valley that then loops back to Marça through vinyards and orchards. The hikes are well described in terms of terrain and difficulty, so we have tried different routes. The tourist website has directions for different lengths and levels of hikes. (www.turismepriorat.org/en/paths)

Max on an old bridge across the canyon.

Easter swim! There was water two years ago, this year the river was dry.

Fairy tale landscapes in El Priorat.

I'm no oenophile, but the red wines from this region are robust, mostly made with Garnatxa and Cariñena grapes. El Priorat has that sort of rugged, dry terrain that grows grapes so well. You can learn more about the wines in the region here: http://winefolly.com/tutorial/in-search-of-the-best-wines-from-priorat/

Bursting with springtime blooms!

As I mentioned earlier, we've only come in the springtime to El Priorat. But I'm hoping to return this fall for mushroom season and more hiking. There are so many places left for us to explore in Spain, but this area is very special.

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