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Captivating Catalonia & Torres Wines

The Catalonia region of Spain, found in the far north-east of the country, separated from France by the Pyrenean Mountain Range, is arguably home to some of the best food and wine in Spain. Within the area is the second largest city; Barcelona, the most populated part of the region, Girona and Tarragona. With a landscape ranging from stunning beaches on the Costa Brava coast, the flat lush plains and vineyards right to the soaring heights of the Pyrenees, there is something for everyone. And food and drink to suit everyone too!

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It was on the rugged beautiful coastline of the Costa Brava that my memories of Catalonia began, camping near the coast as a teenager with my family. Back then I wasn’t quite the foodie I am now, but that doesn’t stop the memories of the food flooding back. The region produdes high quality meat and seafood, as well as rice, wild mushrooms, cheese, and of course, wine from the vineyards. The staples such as Pan Con Tomate (bread with tomato) is a joy to eat, sometimes topped with meats or cheese like the ones we tried below. All the better if your eating it overlooking the amazing coastline.

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Other traditonal dishes such as the Suquet de Piex (Catalan fish stew) is hearty and delicious – starting like so many Catalan dishes with a ‘sofregit’ of garlic and tomato and ending with a ‘picada’ – sauce of ground almonds, parsley, garlic and breadcrumbs. My mouth is watering just remembering it!

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Image courtesy of the Telegraph

The Creme Catalana is a variation on the famous Creme Brûlée, and maybe the most famous dessert of the region.

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The restaurant scene in Barcelona and the surrounding area is fantastic at the moment with both high end Michelin Restaurants and laid back tapas bars. Tapas is certainly not an integral part of the Catalan region but the culture has long been embedded into Barcelona; particularly Pintxos – popular in the Basque Country. I long to spend another lazy holiday in the area trying them all out!

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All this talk of food, and we have barely mentioned the WINE! The area has a huge winemaking heritage, and was even the birthplace of Cava in the 1870s! There are many winemaking areas in the region, the largest and most productive being the Penendés. We were lucky recently to receive a couple of bottles from this wine growing area to sample – and believe me they took me right back the hustle and bustle of the Barcelona bars and staring out to sea with a crisp cold glass of white in hand.

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We tried the Grand Vina Sol and the Gran Coronas from the Torres Winemaker – a family business dating back three centuries. Both wines were so drinkable, but I adored the red – deep in colour and full of dark berry aromas it was fantastic.

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I would urge you to think about this fantastic area of Spain when planning your next holiday – there’s so much to do and see, as well as the fantastic food & drink – you won’t be disappointed, and you can even take a Gastronomic Holiday! Theres loads of information on the website of the Catalan Tourist Board so you can plan your trip to perfection!

Disclosure: This post was written in conjunction with the Catalan Tourist Board, and I received the wine free of charge, no other compensation was received. All views (and memories!) are of course my own. 

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Product Review: Flava-It ‘Meat Lust’ Marinades

What is Meat Lust? I can tell you’re all dying to know! Well, according to their website, Meat Lust is ‘that amazing moment when a seriously succulent and joyful mouthful of meat hits your tastebuds’ Well Flava-It marinades aim to ramp up that feeling to the next level and then some with their range of 10 minute Rubs.

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Choose from Ghost Chilli, Louisiana BBQ, Buffalo, Barbecue, Chinese, Garden mint, Hot & Spicy, Mexican and Piri Piri, there’s a flavour for everyone.

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I was sent a few sachets to try out, and over the last week have enjoyed a Ghost Chilli Marinated Steak and some Louisiana BBQ chicken breasts. I really liked the flavours of both – they were strong and seemed to penetrate the meat very well (albeit turning the meat a little luminous coloured in the marinading process!) We have buffalo chicken wings planned for the weekend, so will be hoping for similar success with this one!

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You get 4 servings per sachet, and in Morrisons, the sachets retail at 95p each.

I really like making my own rubs and marinades, so I’m not sure I would switch to Flava-It, but they’re good for a quick fix and bold flavour in a hurry.  See the website for more details. www.meatlust.com

Disclosure: We were sent 3 Meat Lust Flava-It sachets to try. We were not expected to review them on the blog, but as you probably know by now, I like to share my feelings on stuff…

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Review: Peel & Stone’s Back Room Brunch

Peel & Stone started life as a bakery, under the arches in the Jewellery Quarter. Selling fresh bread, daily baked treats and interesting lunch options, their little shop quite quickly became a big hit in Birmingham.

More recently they have taken up residence at the weekend for Back Room Brunch, offering a weekly changing menu of delicious sounding brunch options in a relaxed and informal setting.

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There’s bottomless tea & coffee, fresh juices and  the weekend papers as well as mouthwatering food on offer.

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On our most recent visit, we were popping in before going off down to Villa Park, and for any football fan at the moment, you’ll know that I would need a good fuel up to offer my unwavering support for my beloved football team, Aston Villa!

The back room brunch takes place in the back room of The Church Pub in the JQ – home of Ribnights for anyone that one that doesn’t know, and I really like the mismatched decor of the place.

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The options looked really great, and they’re always super interesting and different to normal brunch options. I went for the Pulled Pork, January King Kimchi and Drippy Cheese, whilst Lee had the Hummus, Chorizo, Mushrooms & Spinach on Toast. Both meals were fantastic, fresh tasting, great ingredients and prepared really well. No complaints.

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We then tried some ‘brunch dessert’ as I like to call it! Popovers with salted chocolate sauce and walnuts, and to try and be a little more healthy – Granola Honey & Greek Yoghurt.

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A fantastic location for a lazy, really tasty brunch in the city centre. Check out PeelandStone on twitter to find out their latest menus.

Disclosure: We paid for our own meal