Day on a boat; Dinner in a vineyard

On Wednesday, June 22nd, we spent the day on a fishing boat followed by a personal dinner in a vineyard in Madremanya, Spain. It was incredible.

This is Jaume, who became our guide to a traditional Catalan dinner. This time, we were served a meal with extremely fresh sourcing; almost everything we ate was produced by Jaume himself or a family member of his.

We met Jaume around 4:00pm. He walked us through the town of Madremanya, home to about 250 people. We learned a bit of the history of this town; how it was once ruled by lords and how the serfs would work in the fields to grow crops for the lords. It was about a 15 minute walk down to our destination, a a small house and a table set up for us to eat at within the vines of grapes.

This was typically inhabited by farmers during the harvest season as a place of rest, shelter, and nourishment. There was a small kitchen, bed, and wardrobe. Definitely something TLC could tour on their show “Tiny Houses”.

Upon arriving to the vineyard, we were immediately served wine (as one would expect). There were several options:

  1. Rosé made from last year’s harvest- this was made because there was an excessive amount of wine and they didn’t know what to do with all of it. Thus, they started combining their red and white to make more room in the winery.
  2. A red wine from 2011- described as having a woody and leathery flavor, more tannic than the latter described.
  3. A red wine from 2013- sweeter and lighter.

I obviously tried and enjoyed all three.

My favorite part about this excursion was the story each food held. It was a good testament how strongly food can be tied to one’s identity. The cheese below was made from one of Jaume’s seven goats-he described to us the process that goes into making these cheese and explained how he also sells this cheese to people in the town.

This man’s goat cheese represents the strength of a community that comes from local sourcing. This town of 250 people held a feeling of community through their sharing of food- something that is rare to find within the United States. This cheese symbolized bringing people together, the strengthening of a town’s economy, and wholesome nourishment.

I joined my professor in the house and watched Jaume prepare the meal. He held his work to a high standard- explaining to me the difficulty of creating creating a homemade aioli with just garlic and olive oil. He also explained that if not done perfectly, keeping the pestle moving in the same direction, the aioli would be ruined. A way to “cheat” when making homemade aioli is to add some boiled potato. Watching him create the meal we were about to eat gave me a feeling of “home”- a genuine meal filled with love.

This was what everything looked like before we went out to the table to be served. Lots of sausage, cheese, pan con tomate, and anchovies were some of what we ate this day as well as during our other “traditional Catalan” meals.

We gathered, we ate, we drank, we laughed, and we sweat. It was about 6 PM when we began to eat, yet the sun was still beating strong on one half of the table. The tapas style way of eating that we experienced throughout our time in Barcelona encouraged conversation over individual experiences with each dish, making this meal more social than what’s typical in the United States.

The lack of wifi also made this a much needed, personal experience.

Speaking of sharing, the wine bottle pictured below (called a porron) was a classic take on the shared experience food and drink can bring. We drank wine from the porron both on the boat and with dinner.

Being American, we turned this into a drinking game, filling two porrons with an equal amount of wine and seeing which side of the table could finish the fastest.

Our meal was finished with a dessert of both cottage cheese and wine. I preferred the wine. One was a sweet, raisin colored drink. Another was a 90 proof wine, its base being from the skin of a grape.

Our night ended with a beautiful sunset over the hills of grape vines. It was a beautiful way to end the night- no picture could do it justice. We left the vineyard with full stomachs & happy hearts.