Thursday, December 17, 2009

Farmer's Market - Montserrat, Spain

Pete and I took a day trip to Montserrat, which literally means the "Serrated Mountain" in Catalan. It's famous for its jagged rock formations and also for its monastery that houses the statue of the Black Virgin. It attracts pilgrims and tourists in droves. We happened to be there on a Sunday so we were able to see the mass and hear Europe's oldest boys' choir perform, which was a special treat. Here's a little snippet of their performance.

Afterwards, we walked around the small town and did our own pilgrimage, or in my case, the food pilgrimage. In any pilgrimage, a lot can be learned from observing your fellow pilgrims. In Montserrat, I noticed that a lot of people were entering the supermarket and coming out with these large paper envelopes.

This supermarket/souvenir shop had all sorts of chocolates, turrons and food items. The majority of the crowd, however, was hovered over the bakery section, as if the Black Virgin was there herself. Turns out the commotion was about a sugary, flat bread called coques. My curiosity was peaked and I had to buy one. These things were literally flying off the shelves and people were walking out of the shop with 3 to 4 packages each. I had high hopes, but it tasted like regular bread to me with sugar on top. Am I missing something here? Maybe it's better if you toast it?
While waiting for my number to be called, I eyed gigantic rochers as well. I am in love with the rochers at Tartine Bakery in SF and it's not every day you come across a rocher, in Spain of all places too. So I tried one. They were full of whole hazelnuts, which is good, but also very crumbly, which is bad. They were not as chewy as the ones at Tartine. In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't love these, otherwise I'd have to take a cable car up a mountain in Spain to get these goodies every time, whereas SF is just a short flight away. hehe.
We also walked along a farmer's market where they were selling cheese, like this mato, which I had with some honey earlier in the day. Apparently, the mato from Montserrat is famous.
The hard cheeses here are supposed to be amazing as well. They were giving out samples so I tried a bunch and they were delish.
Jewel like jars of honey.
If only I had more room in my bag, I'm sure I would have smuggled some honey back home. Now that I think about it, do bees even live up in Montserrat? I'm such a sucker for cute packaging. You could sell me a rock with a ribbon on it and I'd buy it.

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