By letter only

Long summer evenings allow for time basking in the park and having a picnic. Enjoying a rare bottle of wine in which one must hand write a letter to the owner to get some of his produce. Local sausages and cured meats and cheese from around Europe. This is the reward and the celebration of the end from enduring months of bad management and borderline bullying behaviours.

Andorran gastronomy

The “bordas” are typical rural buildings made of wood and stone, legacy of Andorra’s rural past. Bordas were used as haystacks, stables, refuges or to store farm implements. With the change in lifestyle, many bordas were abandoned and only recently converted over the years into hotels, houses or rustic restaurants.

Borda del Rector is in the entrance to Incles Valley, between Soldeu and El Tarter. It has been opened since 1968 and specializes in homemade Andorran cuisine.

Being in between Spain and France, Andorra has taken on cooking traditions from both these countries and has also developed and maintained some of its own, unique recipes, using local wild produce as much as possible.

El mercado de la Boqueria

El Mercado de la Boqueria is a 2,500 square meter market that sits on the site where the Convent of San José was founded in 1586. La Rambla became very popular and in the 1820s when the Monastery was destroyed by a fire, the market was transferred to this location.

The market is a labyrinth with more than 300 stands that sell food and produce from near and far. You can have lunch or dinner there trying all sorts of things, from razorfish to cuttlefish, snails to rabo de toro. And any type of ham imaginable.

The golden fish

A wonder of nature happens every winter when five ocean currents host the annual migration of the Norwegian-Arctic cod, or ‘Skrei’; these fish come down from the Barents Sea to the Lofoten Islands to spawn.

Eager fishermen catch this variety of fish, gut it, decapitate it, scale it, tie it in twos and hang it out to dry in order to preserve the fish. The fish does not freeze into pieces, but it doesn’t rot either. The fish simply dries in racks in the Nordic sun and wind from late winter until spring. Then, it is bone dry and easy to transport, but still retains its key nutrients; 1kg of this dried fish has the same nutritional value as 5kg of fresh fish!

The entire fish is consumed: the tails and body is exported to Spain, Italy, Portugal and the rest of Europe. The heads are sent to Nigeria to be cooked in soup. The livers are made into medicinal oil. And the tongues are kept as a Norwegian delicacy for tourists from near and far.

So far, so good

In my short time here it would seem that Craft beers are not such a popular drink of choice. The tap beers are seldom craft and to buy craft beers one must go out of their way and find the appropriate shop that sells them. Finding myself needing to kill time, I had the luck to be near a bar and trial a local brew.

Local commerce

To promote local commerce in the small village of Valdoreix, a small farmers and artisans market is set out every Saturday just outside the train station. 405 meters offer prepared food, produce, clothing, or even a vermut catalan and a nibble. Buy high quality jamon from a local producer and get it vacuumed sealed ready to travel!

And then there was wine

There are approximately 10,000 winegrowers and 853 wine companies in Catalunya. None of which I had ever heard of a few months ago. Now I can confirm that Catalonian wines (or at least the ones I have tried) tend to be full bodied and high in alcohol. Apparently, due to the grape varieties and the region’s warm weather ­conditions. With so much diversity around, one ought to start somewhere and look forward to explore other grape varieties and climate conditions…

A promise delivered

Tucked away at the end of a street and in the middle of a maze of narrow street of the gothic quarter is a place that promises good coffee. The long walk and wait were well worth it. Though I should have probably ordered two.