Despite the relatively limited area it covers, the local agriculture produces oil in the groves of Olesa de Montserrat, walnuts, a variety of chickpeas known as Vilamarics (Monistrol), or the pink tomato, which is traditionally grown in the market gardens of Montserrat. The honey made by the bees of the mountain is also widely appreciated for its sweetness and organoleptic properties. Nor should we overlook the many types of aromatic herbs that grow in abundance all over the mountain and which are used in the preparation of the popular liqueur Aromas de Montserrat.
Originally the production of this 31º proof herb liqueur was destined exclusively for the consumption of the monks of Montserrat themselves and the pilgrims, but it became popular very quickly once its digestive properties came to be appreciated. The recipe for this golden beverage includes water, sugar and alcohol, as you would expect, but also twelve different varieties of herbs that can be picked on the mountain, including thyme, juniper, lavender, cinnamon, cloves and coriander. These herbs are distilled in copper stills, to which alcohol and water are added, with sugar added after the concoction has passed through the condenser. The resulting liqueur is put on sale after a long process of ageing and repose. Many of these products can also be purchased in the open market which is held next to the monastery buildings of Montserrat.
If you prefer heartier fare and have enough time to eat in one of the restaurants in the vicinity, don't miss out on the chance to try the dishes based on locally sourced boar, or made with cod. One of the most highly recommended desserts of the mountain is the curd cheese of Marganell accompanied by a generous drizzle of honey or a sprinkling of sugar. This delicious cheese has been made by hand at Can Florín for over two hundred years. If you want to see for yourself the whole variety of artisan cakes made here, you must visit the cake and curd cheese fair that is held in Monistrol de Montserrat around the time of Halloween.
Did you know?
A fourteenth century dessert
The mountain of Montserrat reaches up to 720 metres in height, and besides its spiritual aspect and glorious landscapes, there is a very special kind of curd cheese made here. It is a soft, fresh cheese that has less fat that most others of this kind, and is still made in the traditional way with the boiled milk of sheep, goats and cows. Once set, it can be used to prepare a number of different dishes, although it has been most commonly consumed in Catalonia as a dessert since the 14th century. The oldest surviving Catalan cook book, the medieval Libro de Sent Soví, makes reference to this curd cheese and the different ways it can be served: with honey, with sugar, with candied fruit... This cheese can be enjoyed all year round and is made in several different villages, although the most famous of these is Marganell, and it is said that the villagers of Marganell were the first to go up to the monastery market to sell this delicious cheese.