As you walk through small villages in Catalonia, you keep discovering its treasures. A delicious pastry shop here, an amazing local producer there. An interesting story from a local while having your cup of tea and a breathtaking view just around the corner. So keep walking with your eyes and heart open and be ready to pleasantly surprise yourself while discovering Catalonia through best Catalonia’s food experiences!
But what if somebody whispered in your ear and told you where exactly to find some of those hidden gems? What if a local guide would accompany you all the way long in your discoveries and tell you where all of that is? It’s absolutely true that locals know the best places and could give you the most precious advice. And this is what I was so lucky to experience during my press trip to Catalonia. Not only I had the opportunity to discover the region, but also I was accompanied by a lovely local guide “Mar” throughout my whole trip. She, along with the rest of the team in Catalonia Tourism Board, planned my trip in a way not to show me the best of Catalonia, but to let me discover its hidden gems!
I am sharing some of the best discoveries (in no specific order, so please keep reading till the end). These experiences are from Costa Brava region that I wish everyone of you will have the chance to visit, because it is so well worth it!
GIRONA FOOD TOUR
One can discover a place and its culture through its food. Therefore, the best way to discover Girona is by joining Girona Food Tours. And this was one of the best Catalonia’s foods experiences. Through this exciting tour I had the opportunity to discover medieval Girona, taste the traditional food and wines in Girona’s local markets and restaurants. I visited Girona’s most famous food shops, met local people and learned interesting stories about gastronomy and culinary traditions in Girona.
I got to try the famous viennoiserie pastry from Girona that’s called ‘xuixo’ at Casa Moner. I tasted local bread, got introduced to the traditions of producing and consuming cured meats in Catalonia. Moreover, I had the opportunity to taste delicious local cheese from El Petit Productor, in addition to a variety of seafood products at the local market ‘Mercat Del LLEO‘.
We had lunch at Restaurant Artusi which is located in the centre of Girona and offers a wide selection of dishes that are made with ingredients with rich gastronomic tradition.
And to make Girona Food Tour a memorable one, nothing could have been better added to complete the tour than an amazing Panet from Rocambolesc Gelateria.
By the end of the tour, I felt not only connected to Girona and to its people but I also understood why it is called ‘the Land of Taste’ and so many Michellin stars have been awarded to its restaurants.
A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WINE TASTING EXPERIENCE AT MAS LLUNES
Have you ever had an extraordinary wine tasting experience that you would keep talking about for ages afterwards? At Mas Llunes, it’s not only about great wines, it’s much more than that! It’s about combining great wines with music, light and images that were especially created to match the unique flavours, colours and aromas of every single wine you are going to taste. A must visit for a whole new experience to be revealed!
TASTE THE BISBALENC CAKE
La Bisbal d’Empordà is one of the first villages in the Empordà region, and this is where you can have the Bisbalenc cake, which is highly appreciated by everyone who tasted it, including the famous natives of the Empordà Salvador Dali and Josep Pla.
The original recipe was invented in 1932, when the pastry chef Modest Sans I Vanas created a cake with four different textures: puff pastry, sugar, a traditional Cataln sweet called ‘cbell d’angel’, and pine nuts. The chef called it ‘Bisbalenc’. A few years later, he added another variation of the cake by adding marzipan and sponge cake. This resulted in two different cakes with individual amazing taste of each of them.
The taste is definitely amazing, but also are the friendly staff working at this pastry shop! Definitely worth a visit!
CIDER AND APPLE JUICE TASTING AT MOMA LOCAL FARM
At MOMA family-owned apple farm I got the chance to taste the best 100% natural single-variety apple juices and ciders. Here, I learned more about the apple juice and cider production process starting with planting apple trees using traditional techniques vs. modern ones, collecting apples, pressing them, the fermentation process, and finally bottling, labelling and marketing the final product.
The high quality ciders produced at this third-generation family farm has a fruity taste with low level of alcohol, which makes them ideal for an aperitif or to be paired with a good meal.
Hint: the name MOMA comes from two words combined together: Montgri (name of the mountain) + Poma (apple) = MOMA
DISCOVER THE WORLD OF OLIVE OIL AT CAN SOLIVERA
After your visit to Can Solivera you will know exactly what kind of olive oil is for you and why.
From hundreds of different varieties of olive trees, olive oil at Can Solivera is made from Arbequina variety. This was a forgotten olive tree found near a small village of Arbeca in Catalonia, which originally came from Jerusalem. It produces small, round, colourful olives that has a fresh taste of astonishing mild aromas. As a matter of fact, not only olive oil is being produced using Arbequina, but also Can Solivera’s traditional skincare products and essential oils.
At Can Solivera, I discovered the world of olive oil and olive oil tasting, the secrets of olive oil trees and olive oil extractions.
ENJOY A MEAL AT VILLA TERESITA AT HOSTEL SPA EMPURIES
Hostal Spa Empuries is an eco-friendly hotel and restaurant that opens all year round. Situated right on the seaside, the dining experience is complementing with spectacular panoramic views on the sea. Ecological produce is being used in the kitchen which is being cultivated in their own garden, or provided from local producers that have been certified organic.
We had a pleasant lunch prepared by Chef Leo which included: ‘tomatoes from orchard with burrata’ and ‘local rockfish rice with saffron allioli’. The dessert was a mouthwatering ‘lime and basil sorbet with yoghurt’!
WINE TASTING AT TERRA REMOTA
About twenty years ago, far far away, in a remote land, Terra Remote was born. During all these years it has been giving maximum care and consideration to the land, the environment, the surroundings, the vines and the grapes themselves. Today, the vineyards and the winery of Terra Remota are offering the very best from its lands. Wines of highest quality are being produced here following an individual production process that is unique to every single wine.
This is an awesome place to familiarise yourself with wine production process from A to Z. Requirements for growing wines, the right soil and amount of water, the spacing between vines, manual harvesting and sorting, the architecture of the winery, the winemaking facilities, and many more is being explained to visitors during their wine tasting tours at Terra Remota.
At Terra Remota, I had a wonderful time with the wine tasting experience. We got to taste high quality wines, followed by a delicious picnic in the vineyards.
It is worth mentioning that the names of the main range of wines produced at Terra Remota are based on the concept “Camino” which means the way, the path or a journey inspired by the famous poem of Antonio Machado.
LA CUINA D’EN NORAT, THE GASTRONOMIC RESTAURANT IN HOTEL TERRAZA
Hotel and Spa Terraza is a family hotel that is located on the arch-shaped bay of the sea in Roses. At Hotel and Spa Terraza you will enjoy spectacular views on the sea, have a magnificent dining experience in their gastronomic restaurant and spoil yourself in the rooftop spa.
At La Cuina D’En Norat restaurant traditional Catalan cuisine is served with a touch of creativity and modernisation. We had a tasting menu consisting of five delicious and beautifully presented courses and best wines of Emporda.
TREAT YOURSELF TO AN EXTRAORDINARY DINING EXPERIENCE AT ES PORTAL
ES Portal is a family-run gourmet boutique hotel which is a restored sixteenth century farmhouse surrounded by beautiful nature of the Baix Emporda region. Here, you can taste the wonderful creations of Chef Joan Carles Sanchez and his team. The meals are not only made of highest quality locally produced ingredients, but also consist of products that has been treated with great delicacy and culinary knowledge, and presented with chef’s special touch of beauty and creativity.
Dining rooms with a unique rustically style and a newly added glass dining room provide a pleasant gourmand experience. Moreover, the restaurant has a variety of menus to select from (menu of the day, the weekend menu, the tasting menu, etc) or you can order a la carte. I had the tasting menu that consists of five courses followed by deserts. Dishes were cooked with lots of seafood varieties, fresh vegetables and local rice. Every single dish was amazingly delicious, that despite getting so close to being completely full, I couldn’t but complete all of my plates. They were that delicious! And the dessert was the Catalan tiramisu. It was the best tiramisu I ever had!
TASTE THE BEST BRUNYOLS IN GALETES GRAUPERA
At Galetes Graupera you can taste and buy the best traditional artisanal biscuits of the region. This family business has been running in La Bisbal d’Empordà since 1895. Seven generations have been working in this shop making the best biscuits, brunyols, panellets and other traditional Catalan desserts.
The shop smells like heaven even from outside. And when I entered, my eyes couldn’t stop admiring the big variety of biscuits that were beautifully wrapped and displayed thought the shop. The kind lady owner was so happy to tell me the story of this shop. I could feel how proud she was of her business and all her family members who worked and are still working in it. The shop owner then invited us to see the production process itself – which takes place at the back of the shop. Here I had the chance to taste some of freshly made biscuits, which were absolutely delicious!
I flew back home with a big bag of a lovely combination of biscuits, which was much appreciated by my family, kids and adults alike. And as a matter of fact, I regret not getting more of this deliciousness, as I am craving these biscuits that were gone in no time.
VISIT THE FISHING MUSEUM IN PALAMOS
The Fishing Museum will make you appreciate your seafood dish next time you are going to have it! It opened in 2002 aiming at spreading awareness of fishing and the maritime heritage in Costa Brava and its sustainability. From showing the historical relationship between the Man and the see, the tools that fishermen used at that time, and the challenges that faced them on their daily journey, to what things have developed to today and what they aspire for the future. By the end of your visit, you will feel connected to the sea, will appreciate more its produce and will understand better the hard tasks of fishermen do every single day! Remember that “between you and a fish, there’s always a fisherman!”
Make sure not only to visit the museum, the port and the fish auction, but also enjoy a gastronomical experience in Espai del Peix. It not only allows you to taste traditional seafood, but also provides a real opportunity to learn more about fishery products, their gastronomy and about responsible fishing and consumption. Cooking show, culinary workshop, children cooking classes and guided tours to the Palamos Fish Auction are organised.
Tip: book for your culinary and gastronomic experience in advance as they take place on specific days of the week and could be organised for big groups upon request.
TRY “Recuits” CHEESE!
And the best place to have it and to get familiar with its story and the production process is at Recuits de Fonteta Factory in Baix Empordà – Girona. Here, we were warmly welcomed by the owner of this business who explained the story behind Recuits de Fonteta, the production process using his grandmother’s recipe, the hygiene rules strictly followed in the factory, attempts to export this product overseas and his aspiration for the future!
Not only these amazing recuits are being produced here, but also other dairy products varying from natural yoghurts to artisan cheeses. But one thing combines all these products together, and that is the freshness and deliciousness of these unique products.
After tasting a few products (made from cow or goat milk), I can confidently say that this family business produces amazing hight quality fresh cheese that is considered a speciality of this region, in which no additives or preservatives are being used. Recuits de Fonteta has a soft texture and could be consumed as a dessert (plain or with sugar, honey, or your favourite topping), added to your salad or to your main dish. Just be creative and don’t miss it next time you are in Catalonia!
TASTE THE TRADITIONAL BAKED SNAILS
Have you ever tried baked snails before? If your answer is no, then in Catalonia you will have the opportunity to try the best ones! I’ve had mine at La Masia Restaurant cooked with delicious tomato and garlic sauce. Use two toothpicks, and enjoy your meal!
La Masia Restaurant is also known for combining food with beautiful ceramics that are being produced in La Bisbal d’Empordà, i.e. some dishes are served on colourful plates that makes dinning an amazing experience.
ENJOY A DINING A EXPERIENCE AT LA GARRIGA DE CASTELLADRAL RESTAURANT
And even better stay in this charming hotel. In La Garriga de Castelladral Restaurant situated in the heart of Catalonia and surrounded by nature, you can take part in a cooking class, a Masterchef competition, or just enjoy a healthy meal while watching the beautiful scenery of Montserrat Mountain and the surrounding nature.
TAKE A SEGWAY TOUR
I didn’t know how fun a riding a Segway could be until I tried it. And now I know how much fun I missed before!
Segway guided tours can take you up to two hours ride in the direction you wish to explore. We went on a tour with Ocitania and Burricleta, and our guide took us though beautiful fields of sunflowers and maize, we crossed an old village Gualta, till we reached a high top from which we could see a breaking view of l’Empordà and Mountain Montgri. Alternatively, you can plan a e-bike tour which would allow you to discover wonderful places in Costa Brava.
Tip: wear flat comfortable shoes when you go for a Segway tour and take with you only necessary items that could fit a medium sized bag that is placed in front of a Segway. Segways are suitable for children aged 7 and above, and specific wagons can be attached to adults’ Segway for children ages 3-7 years if reserved in advance.
VISIT LOCALLY PRODUCED CERAMIC SHOPS IN LA BISBAL D’EMPORDA
And get a few beautiful new pieces for your kitchen.
La Bisbal d’Empordà is known for producing ceramics and therefore is called the city of pottery. As a matter of fact, the first written evidence that mentions pottery making in La Bisbal goes back to the year 1511. Nowadays, La Bisbal is considered to be the capital of the ceramic industry in Catalonia, and in this town you can find many ceramic shops.
I couldn’t resist but to buy several beautifully designed ceramic pieces that I had to take home with me to use in my kitchen, and of course in my food photography!
Disclosure: I was a guest of Catalan Tourist Board. All opinions are my own.