GastroTour on the Costa Brava
There has been a major reshuffle as far as the finest restaurants are concerned. For many years, the Spanish Costa Brava had been the centre of attraction for gourmets. It was the El Bulli restaurant in particular that had gastronomers all over the world in excitement. London-based “Restaurant Magazine”even nominated the restaurant in Roses as the best of the world – in four consecutive years! This year, however, it was the “Noma” restaurant in Copenhagen that won the prize. Ferran Adrià has already told us in advance that he was planning on taking two years off cooking – a creative break – and is thus going to close the restaurant in 2012. Gourmets need not fear or change their bookings for Spain in the time between 2012 and 2014 though. There are plenty of other culinary highlights at the Costa Brava and in the surrounding areas with tapas, anchovies and Cava only representing a very small fraction of the infinite possibilities indeed.
Mar i muntanya
Small fishing villages turn out to be a source of culinary delicacies, dreamy towns tucked away in the mountains are known for their Mediterranean treats prepared in the traditional stone ovens, and where the oceans kiss the mountains internationally renown wines and Cava are grown. The kiss of the mountains and the sea, or Mar i muntanya, is a common topic in Catalan dishes. Chicken and giant prawns for example, or Catalan Paella, a dish of meat and seafood.They also like to combine the sweet and the spicy, as in “pork and peach”. A people prone to experiment with tastes and textures the Spanish are thus not easy to surprise. The chefs in Catalan hotels and restaurants are constantly performing a balancing act between the old and the new, between tradition and modern ideas. In a big number of restaurants, the guests are offered unique dishes and innovative menus known as “Cocina de Autor”.
The dishes are as diverse as they are unique and entertaining. Ranging from simple Tapas, there is ample scope for more daring dishes, such as “Mar i muntanya”. There are no limits to what is possible – just think of Ferran Adriá and his famous molecular gastronomy.
The Guide Michelin has known this all along. For many years, the Costa Brava has been featuring a very high number of Michelin stars as well as an equally high number of young, keen chefs. Joan Roca in Girona was awarded his third star last year, and there were plenty of other chefs in the back country work magic using the region’s freshest and most tasty products. They also aim for internationality: traditional dishes are combined with eastern notes, while the most well known Mediterranean dishes also are given new aspects.
Cooking has been considered a beautiful art in Catalonia for a long time. Indeed, the first cookbook published in a Roman language has been around much longer than Ferran Adría and much longer still than his participation at the Documenta. Said cookbook was published in Catalonia in the 14th century: El Llibre de Sent Soví”.
Giant prawn in dark chocolate
If you ever spot steaks and giant prawn in dark chocolate on the menu – do not be too surprised; this is just a tribute to the master of surrealism, Salvador Dalí.
His appetite is almost proverbial in Catalonia and even made it into a book: “Salvador Dalí – delightful Catalonian dishes”. At the age of six, little Dalí already claimed he wanted to be a cook when he grew up. Later, as the genius became an artist, and a mastermind of marketing who knew very well how sell himself, he also become known for his love of good food. Rumour has it that he used to say, “you can go without eating, but you cannot go without eating well.” One of his favourite meals used to be giant prawns in dark chocolate!!
Gourmets visiting the Costa Brava well get their money’s worth. Firstly, the upscale restaurants with their world famous chefs and extraordinary service are comparatively inexpensive and secondly, some of the less well-known restaurants tucked away in a corner of the countryside offer just as many culinary treats. The region’s excellent wines are also good value for money. Most restaurants offer a three course lunch throughout the week, water and wine included, for about 9 to 19 Euro. In the evenings and on weekends, there is more to choose from on the menu, but dishes are also more expansive and drinks are not included. After supper, there are plenty of pubs and Chilinguitas to go to. It is summer after all!
Travels including cuisine, sports and culture are all the rage these days. The Costa Brava offers all of this and more. Accomodations are easy to find and just as eclectic as the rest of the country. There are Masia- Hotels in the back – country, lovingly restored to their former beauty. They invite the guests to stay and relax in the spa. Luxury hotels near the sea are more international, offering high-quality service and stunning views onto the ocean. On the other hand, there are cosy, family-run houses. Those are very friendly places with a convincingly personal service.
The families are always happy to provide detailed information on excursions and day-trips. Furthermore, the Costa Brava is also known for its well-kept golfing areas.
On the Costa:Live pages, we would like to show you more about all the Costa Brava and the back country have to offer in terms of food, drinks, parties and accommodation.