A PENARTH tapas restaurant is set to stage Wales’ first Calçotada, a traditional Catalan onion festival.

Bar 44 will celebrate the harvest of the Calçot, a Catalan spring onion, similar to the leek, at a special event on Tuesday, April 8.

Radio 4’s Kitchen Cabinet panellist Rachel McCormack, a highly-respected Catalan food expert, will host the evening.

Spanish food lovers can enjoy the ritual which involves grilling Calçots over an open barbecue, before stripping back the skins, dipping them a Romesco sauce and eating them directly with the fingers.

Owen Morgan, co-founder of Bar 44, said: “We are thrilled to be hosting what we think might be Wales’ first Calçotada.

“We have been using Calçots on the menu for the last month or so, as they are bang in season in Catalonia now. Served with Romesco sauce they are simple food but have an amazingly sweet flavour.

“Pronounced ‘kalsutada’or ‘kalsotada’, depending on the dialect, the Calçotada is a popular ritual in Spain which brings families and friends together around the table during the winter months to eat the onions. It’s a party atmosphere where it is traditional to wear bibs to eat the Calçots, get messy, and wash it all down with fantastic Catalan wine.

“We are also thrilled to have Rachel coming down to host the event with us. She’s extremely passionate about Catalan food and cooking it, and handily very experienced at hosting these fantastic events. We look forward to showing everyone a great night.”

Though originally from Valls and neighbouring regions near Tarragona, calçots are eaten almost all over Catalonia. They are harvested during the winter, and eaten - with a big emphasis on outdoor dining - between February and April when the weather is warmer.

They are grilled over wood or vine cuttings, served on terracotta tiles and eaten with romesco sauce along with an accompaniment of cava and red wine.

Tables for the event can be booked by calling the restaurant. Tickets cost £30 and include a glass of Bodegas Vilarnau wine or cava, wood grilled Calçots with Romesco sauce to start, grilled Catalan Sausages, Pork, Potatoes or braised Beans for main, and Crema Catalana for dessert.

The Bar 44 restaurant group was established in 2002 as a result of the Morgan brothers’ unrelenting passion for Spanish food and produce, after holidaying there as a family.

The success of the award-winning restaurant in Cowbridge, which has appeared in the Good Food Guide three years in succession, prompted the opening of a second restaurant in Penarth in December 2012.

Most recently, the addition of the group’s street kitchen, El Boquerón (‘The Anchovy’), is tapping in to the growing demand for street food by offering restaurant-quality tapas to those on the go.