Byrrh in Catalonia

The colors of Collioure in France have drawn artists and those with any heart for a century or longer. They drew us in on the apex of a drive through Catalonia during August, and completely melted my heart.

But the town is more complex than a few restaurants along the front, the street market on weekends, and the creme catalan on every dessert menu. The drink of choice is byrrh, an aperitif composed of red wine, mistelle (a fermented grape juice with that fermentation stopped by sugar), and quinine. The result carries you in sips through the hot afternoon, with a snack of boquerones, the marinated white anchovies that shine attractively from the shelves of each épicerie.

The sun sets over the waterfront as we walk past the boats lined up along the pier. The heat breaks and the stones slowly cool into the evening. We take a measured pace, considering where we’ll have dinner. Or we may just have another round in the wicket chairs by the sea.

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