Freixenet CEO Pedro Ferrer welcomes us with a flute of rich, delicious 2005 Casa Sala, a luxury cuvée made by hand in celebration of the winery’s centennial.
Tapas are served with the Casa Sala, including a version of pà amb tomãquet, the ubiquitous Catalan tomato bread, here topped with grilled vegetables.
For lunch, we are treated to a demonstration of how paella is traditionally made: In a large pan the rice slowly absorbs broth, with seafood from the Mediterranean. And more Casa Sala.
In Priorat, we tour Freixenet’s Morlanda winery and taste its rich reds. At Cal Quel, owner Teresa Picollà prepares stewed rabbit, a perfect pairing for the garnacha-based red blend.
While at Cal Quel, another Freixenet wine — Garbó from Montsant, the region that surrounds Priorat like a doughnut — is pretty in pink as we sip it and nibble local charcuterie.
At Freixenet’s Segura Viudas winery, we don bibs to eat roasted spring onions — calçots —dipped in romesco sauce and, as with baby birds in the nest, slowly lowered into our mouths.
On another day, we visit La Freixeneda, a Ferrer family estate that gives its name (and different spelling) to Freixenet’s first premium red table wine, soon in the U.S. in limited amounts.
Not all our dining is rustic. One lunch we are treated to a salt-crusted dorado, served with older vintages of Freixenet brut reserve.
A dish we see in several restaurants is — surprise! — pasta stuffed with rich pulled pork or chicken and bathed in béchamel, an entrée known on menus as “grandmother’s cannelloni.”
On a lovely, sunny morning we take in the sights of Barcelona, rambling down Las Ramblas, the city’s walkway to the sea that is bordered by flower stands, fancy shops, and places to eat.
We duck into La Boqueria, Barcelona’s huge, covered produce marketplace, to shop then stop for tapas. Our waiter gives me the “shaka” sign, meaning “welcome” and “wassup.” I think.
The Travel Channel is filming a series on fried foods from around the world when we stop at Bar Cañete. The chef works on fried lobster. Later, I’m interviewed eating fried eggplant.
Also at Cañete, we are introduced to Freixenet’s new line of fresh, fruity, and lightly sweet wines — Mia. This one — “Frisch und Fruchtig” — blushes behind its German label.
We toast our hosts, comiat, with Cordon Negro cocktails — cavatails — at Javier de las Muelas’ Dry Martini. The Flamenco has bubbly, rum, PX sherry, chocolate liqueur, and a farewell blossom.