|Photo by Freeimages.com/jose luis navarro|
by The Daily Telegraph, June 22, 2016
The three brothers behind the world's best restaurant - El Celler de Can Roca in Girona - reveal their favourite places to eat and drink on the Costa Brava
Where the Roca brothers would enjoy…
A typical brunch
At El Mercat del Lleó, the main fresh produce market in Girona, you'll find a reflection of the natural environment and all the treasured produce of the region. There are about 60 stalls selling everything from elvers, monkfish and bacalla (salt cod) to wild mushrooms, garlic, fruit and vegetables. We’d especially recommend the Carnisseria Fàbregas stall, where you can order all kinds of cold meats and cured and dried sausages, such as botifarra d’ou.
Don’t miss an “esmorzar de forquilla” [fork breakfast] at Can Marqués, a restaurant next to the market. It’s a kind of brunch comprising platillos [small portions] of typical cooked dishes. These might include scrambled eggs with wild mushrooms, fried eggs with potatoes, beef tongue, beef tripe, roasted pig’s trotter, grilled sausage with beans, and stuffed roasted vegetables.
El Mercat del Lleó, Plaça Calvet i Rubalcaba, Girona ( mercatlleo.cat ). Botifarra d’ou €10-12 per kilo (four sausages).
Can Marquès, Plaça Calvet i Rubalcaba 3, Girona (0034 972 201001; canmarques.com ). Esmorzar de forquilla €10-€12 depending on platillos.
On the Costa Brava, we’re spoilt for choice. Our first recommendation would be Toc al Mar at Aiguablava cove, in Begur. They chargrill seafood over oak embers, everything from catch of the day to Palamós prawns and octopus. Or try one of the delicious rice dishes served in a square pan by the sea.
In Cadaqués, in the centre of the village, is Compartir, run by three chefs who are committed to excellence – Mateu Casañas, Eduard Xatruch and Oriol Castro. It’s modern haute cuisine but the dishes are non-formal, fresh, fun and intended for sharing. One example is marinated sardines with apple, fennel and eucalyptus; another is lightly fried rabbit ribs with apple aioli.
Finally there is Ca la Pilar in Girona for typical Catalan comfort food. Order the cod tripe with artichokes and green peas – or if you’re feeling daring and want to surprise your palate, the pig snout and pig ear with chickpeas.
Toc al Mar, Carrer de Platja d’Aiguablava 6, Begur (0034 972 11 32 32; tocalmar.cat ). Chargrilled seafood dishes €21.50 to €36; rice dishes €12.80 to €36. Three courses €25-€70 without drinks.
Compartir, Riera Sant Vicenç, Cadaqués (0034 972 25 84 82; en.compartircadaques.com ). Three courses €50-€60.
Ca la Pilar, Carrer del Pont Major, Girona (0034 972 21 28 61; restaurantcalapilar.com ). Three courses €40-€50.
We highly recommend Bo.Tic in Corsà, on the C-66 road between Girona and Palamós. Albert Sastregener, the chef, was a student of ours and he’s doing a good job. He’s a young guy who has launched an interesting high-level gastronomic project with his friend, reinvigorating Empordanese cuisine with an emphasis on design and aesthetics. His dishes are modern, creative and playful, such as “bag of chips with salsa brava” (a spicy tomato sauce), stingray with green sauce and citrus, or razor clams with a ceviche dressing.
There’s a restaurant with three Michelin stars – Sant Pau, in Sant Pol de Mar, on the coast near Barcelona. Carme Ruscalleda is a great chef who freely interprets modern Catalan cuisine with a subtle sensitivity and great passion. We love her lloritos [an extraordinary-looking fish from the wrasse family] and also her “little octopus with green peas”. Other typical dishes on her tasting menus are “green fish” (cod with tarragon, parsley and plankton) and “Thai turbot” flavoured with coriander, cabbage, chives and lemongrass.
Bo-Tic, Ctra C-66 Girona-Palamós 11.5km, Corçà (0034 972 63 08 69; bo-tic.com ). Seven-course seasonal menu €45.50; tasting menus €75 and €85; three courses à la carte €37-€48 without drinks.
Sant Pau, Carrer Nou 10, Sant Pol de Mar, Barcelona (0034 937 600 662; ruscalleda.com ). Seasonal tasting menu (14 courses) €159 without wine.
Head to L’Aliança d’Anglès, a gastronomic restaurant 10 miles inland from Girona. It’s great for traditional tapas to go with a fine vermouth, such as cod brandade, pickled sardines or calamars a la romana [deep-fried squid].
L’Aliança d’Anglès, Carrer Jacint Verdaguer 3, Anglès (0034 972 42 01 56; restaurantalianca.com ). Tapas and a glass of vermouth, about €10.
Hostal Empúries, near Sant Martí d’Empúries, has the most wonderful sea views. It’s a hotel, now sensitively refurbished but originally built in 1907 to provide lodgings for the archaeologists excavating the Greek and Roman ruins nearby. The property has won awards for sustainability and there are two restaurants offering sea-inspired creative cuisine – Villa Teresita and the less formal Bistro del Mar. There are tapas to share, followed by fish either simply grilled or baked in salt, rice with conger eel, or fried scorpion fish.
Cal Tet, at L’Estartit, is a village bar where the fish arriving from small boats is presented fresh and simply cooked over embers, just on its own. There’s a good tapas menu, too – and it’s all reasonably priced. Typical dishes are fish skewers, clams, fried squid, grilled octopus, barnacles (percebes) or cod.
Hostal Empúries, Platja de Portitxol, between l’Escala and Sant Martí d’Empúries (0034 972 77 59 32; hostalempuries.com ). Tapas €4.50-€29 per dish to share; three courses €44-€66.
Cal Tet, Carrer Santa Anna 38, L’Estartit (0034 972 75 11 79; caltet.com ). Tapas €1.50-€5 each; three courses €25-€40.
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Interview by Andrew Purvis
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