Our second day in Spain kicks off with an hour long drive north from our base in Barcelona to the region El VallèsOriental, We are headed towards a very special organic farm called Verdolaga; there are lots of incredible organic farms all around Spain but not all of them are supported by Paul Santamaria, son of Santi Santamaria.
Santi Santamaria was one of Spain’s most acclaimed and celebrated chefs and the genius behind Can Fabes, one of the first Catalan restaurants to ever gain a Michelin star rating in the 80s. The restaurant then continued on to maintain a solid 3 stars from 1994 until the unfortunate passing of Santi in 2011.
Paul’s life, surrounded by food, inspired him to found a seed bank, which focuses on trying to find and bring back the forgotten vegetables that are native to Catalonia. Paul was fortunate enough that his father was collecting seeds from all these forgotten gems while running Can Fabes.
Two young men who live and breathe everything organic and heirloom vegetables run the farm, they supply celebrated restaurants such as El celler de Can Rocca, Els Tinarsand Fonda Xesc. They have collaborated with Paul to help preserve these vegetables that are unique to Catalonia.
We get to help pull young and fresh garlic from the earth, pick the sought after baby broad beans which are collected when at the size of only caviar and inspect tight gem lettuces which locals love to cut into wedges and pan fry up with a little garlic and olive oil and then finish by dripping a little bit of the garlic infused oil on top.
The farm itself has been in their family for over 300 years and it was inspiring to see these two young guys taking an interest in not only preserving local vegetables but also their family traditions.