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Sunday dinners with a difference...

The big onion swallows Confidential up into a black hole of Calcotada

Written by . Published on March 30th 2012.

Sunday dinners with a difference...

SPANISH restaurants: You know you have arrived when a bunch of Barcelonian tourists stop outside your gaff and give you a massive round of applause.

Dscf0897Spaniards approveAnd so it was last Sunday in the 70 degree heat of College Lane when Lunya decided to throw Liverpool's – and possibly the North West's – first ever Calcotada.

A Calçotada is a Catalan food feast that traditionally takes place in March. It celebrates the calçot, a variety of onion, which is a bit like a leek or a spring scallion, and grown from the tops of the bigger Spanish variety.

Heaps of them are tipped onto a barbecue until the outer skins are charred. Then they are presented in newspaper with a Romesco sauce (almonds, chilli, garlic, pine nuts olive oil) to dip them in.

Traditionally you peel off the husks and eat them until, we were told, you are sick or decide to have a food fight – whichever comes first. 

Dscf0884-001Tomorrow's calçot papersAs Lunya is a neighbour of posh shops like Flannels, this was clearly a no-no – although when the sun is cracking the flags in parts of Liverpool anything can happen. 

It took a good hour before we'd had our fill of calcots - and Mo Hall, who runs vegetarian cookery classes over at Claremont Farm, devoured dozens of the beasts. Look at her clutching them in our picture below.

Time then, to move onto some excellent cured meats - no, not you Mo – in this case fuet and salchichon. 

Unlike many tapas places, these are more Costa than Costco - coming from the world famous Casa Riera Ordeix in Vic, Catalunya. Cured in the same building using the same methods for over 200 years and with more than a whiff of the old country. 

Mrs K: Miss Liverpool 1952Mrs K: Miss Liverpool 1952This is what you have to like about Lunya: Its menu has grown up since it opened in Liverpool One a couple of years ago, and yet there has been no Anglicised compromise. It retains an almost fanatical attention to detail and authenticity. Along with a plethora of wacky events like this, quiz nights, language lessons and dancing classes, it keeps the embers of Catalunyan love burning for owner Peter Kinsella – a successful educational psychologist in a past life - and those of the faithful who come back for more. 

All this was followed by a barbecued meat extravaganza - the scent and sight of which got the heads of passers-by turning: the sweetest spring lamb cutlets, marinated in red wine, fat juicy chicken with garlic, rosemary and lemon - all from Edge's butchers in Bromborough. Plus plenty of garlicky Catalan butifarra pork sausage which wasn't.


Any more for any more? A nicely burnished Crema Catalana and oranges accompanied a long chat with Peter's mum - Miss Liverpool 1952. She won the crown  in a contest judged by Bessie Braddock and Violet Carson (who played Ena Sharples in Corrie) at the Grafton. "My mother was appalled when she found out", she chuckled.

You'll probably have to wait another year for Liverpool's second Calcotada (it was £32.95 all in), but at least here's the heads up. 

For the 51 Sundays until then, you'll have to make do with the formidable looking whole suckling pig roasts they do every week at Lunya, or just a Saula coffee in the week. 

Lunya also serves some dishes with a drizzle of mackerel semen.

Mmmm, go on, you know you want to. 

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Hilary JonesMarch 31st 2012.

Mouth watering. Me like Lunya

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