As most of you must know, the Mediterranean has been an inspiration for the greatest chefs and consequently, the Mediterranean gastronomy has become one of the most recognized worldwide. However, every coastal town has its own customs and traditions and Sitges is no exception. We are going to show some of our favorites of Sitges:
Malvasía de Sitges
One of the better-known gastronomical products of the area is the Malvasía de Sitges. It is produced in various formats: the most renowned is a sweet, fragrant passito (dessert wine) with a 15% alcoholic content. A dry fortified wine is also made, along with a sparkling wine and an aromatic white wine, all of them produced exclusively from the Malvasia grape from which the wines take their name.
In the eighteenth century, the Malvasia grape made up ¼ of the crops cultivated in Sitges, although now there are only 2,5 hectares under cultivation. The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity has included the Malvasia de Sitges in its Ark of Taste list (small-scale quality productions under threat).
Sitges Malvasia is a true rarity: even if it is included in the 84 internationally recognized varieties of Malvasia, only a few hectares of this production survive. The good news is that this increasingly valued grape variety is being extended into other vineyards in the Penedès area.
The chalky soil, marine breeze, and protection offered by the mountains all contribute to a unique microclimate favorable to the Sitges Malvasía. The small, elongated grapes are allowed to overripen and are picked at the end of September-beginning of October.
Sitges diplomat Manuel Llopis i de Casades (1885-1935) bequeathed his land including a couple of hectares of Malvasía vines in Aiguadolç, his wine business and most of the Llopis family properties to the Sant Joan Baptista Hospital of Sitges provided the commitment was made (and which is still honoured today) to continue quality production of the Malvasia wine. Today production stands at around 4,000 liters per year.
Malvasía de Sitges, Hospital de Sant Joan de Sitges, D.O. Penedès, can be purchased in various establishments around town such as specialized wine shops, cake shops, and gourmet stores.
Sitges style rice (Arròs a la Sitgetana)
Because of its bonds with the sea, the varied gastronomy of Sitges is closely related to seafood and rice dishes. It’s remarkable the called “Arros a la Sitgetana” a dish retrieved by Emerencià Roig i Raventos in his book published in 1934 “El Sitges dels nostres avis” (The Sitges of our grandparents), a compilation of oral traditions about the 19th century life in Sitges including some references to the dishes that were formerly cooked in Sitges.
Xató is a local dish that features a dressing made from toasted almonds, toasted hazel nuts, bread, ripe tomatoes, vinegar, garlic, oil, salt, and ñora. (The ñora is a type of sun-dried sweet pepper, burgundy/purple in color, about the size of a garlic clove, popular along the Spanish Mediterranean coast. When rehydrated the resulting thin flesh is scraped away from the skin and used in cooking.)
The dressing, of a thick consistency, decorate a salad of escarola (curly endive), anchovies, tuna, rehydrated and desalinated cod and olives. Various towns and villages in the Penedès and Garraf area lay claim to the ownership of this seasonal salad and hold xatonadas (yearly xató festivals open to all) to enjoy and promote the local specialty.
Many restaurants have xató on their menu. There are also various establishments in Sitges where you may purchase the ready-made sauce such as the municipal market and shops with food to go…