The best of Sitges gastronomy
There are a wide variety of typical products in Sitges ranging from decoration items and clothing to culinary dishes. We would like to highlight the following:
The 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 favourable 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 litres per year.
Malvasía de Sitges, Hospital de Sant Joan de Sitges, D.O. Penedès, can be purchased in various establishments around town such as specialised wine shops, cake shops and gourmet stores.
Sitges style rice (Arròs a la Sitgetana, See recipe)
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.
This is a dish based on rice to which some seafood and products from the countryside are added. Check the recipe at right. See recipe “arroz a la Sitgetana”
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 colour, about the size of a garlic glove, 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, decorates 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 speciality. 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… See recipe Xató
Where to buy:
Establishments where to purchase the ingredients for traditional recipes or to buy ready-made food:
The charcutería Fontanals which offers a wide selection of local cold cuts including the botifarra d’ou, meat, cheese…
Across the road is Xamaní, a well stocked fruit and vegetable shop which also offers dairy products and some ready-made dishes. Xamaní also sells the xató dressing in conveniently sealed bags.
Next to Xamani is Vi més Vi, a specialized wine shop where you can savour a glass of wine and have a little nibble. The shop stocks local wines as well as some international wines.
In the Sitges Municipal Market (next to the train station), on Calle Artur Carbonell: There are a wide variety of establishments in the market offering quality produce: fruit, vegetables, cold cuts, meat, fish, regional products etc. One of the market stalls that sells cod will also prepare the xató sauce.
All supermarkets stock the packaged xató sauce, normally presented in a jar. The most commonly available brand is by Ferrer, however it is not homemade.