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Passion for Spanish wine

ADDRESSES

There are no grape growers making wine here, but La Cooperativa maintains the name of the owners of this building in the centre of Porrera, a quaint and quiet village in the heart of Priorat.

Instead of vats and boxes, the space managed by Litus and Mía for the past 12 years houses a cosy restaurant with vaulted ceilings, a handful of tables with colourful oilcloths and small flower vases plus a large number of empty bottles decorating the wall shelves. Far from the style of the pseudo-vintage eateries that are so popular (and predictable) these days, La Cooperativa boasts a refreshingly simple and relaxed décor and atmosphere.

The cuisine follows the same idea, and consists of traditional dishes in which flavour and quality of ingredients stand above any aesthetic considerations. Mía, who owned a restaurant in Barcelona for many years, cooks vegetables from her garden when they are available, uses olive oil from the DO Siurana nearby, makes home-made desserts and works with local providers although as Litus explains, “we purchase our products as close to home as possible but above all, we look for quality.”

The menu changes with the seasons, but there are some standard dishes like the delicious and tender rabbit cooked with various side dishes (€15.5), glazed rooster (€17.5), goat meatballs or a wide variety of salads like the one with lettuce, green beans and pumpkin hummus or rocket, dried tomatoes and parmesan.

They don’t offer a daily menu any more but they still have very moderate prices for their customers, mostly foreign wine tourists, people in the wine trade and Catalan visitors on weekends. Local winemakers are frequent diners at La Cooperativa given that Litus and Mía let them uncork their own bottles when they have trade clients visiting.

As expected in a restaurant that values local ingredients, the wine list is dominated by Priorat, a region that Litus knows well and serves in quality glassware. Every single producer in Porrera is represented, as well as many from the rest of Priorat and also Montsant. A few non-local brands are also listed —a bunch of wines from Piedmont, Aligoté by Mikulski, Garnachas from Gredos, Mencías by Raúl Pérez and Verónica Ortega, Xarel.los from Pendedès…—thinking mostly of wine-loving locals wishing to try wines from other regions.

Wine is very reasonably priced and sold at store prices plus a corking fee of €5. La Cooperativa is also a wine shop albeit a “slightly unusual” one, according to Litus. “Opening times are flexible, but if you pop over to the restaurant, we will help you straight away.”

During weekends in July and August, La Cooperativa maintains its relaxed atmosphere but moves its dining room outdoors, to the space outside the restaurant. “It’s like having dinner in your sitting-room but al fresco”, adds Litus. Y.O.A.