Do you know what a porró is?
Don’t worry, I didn’t either before we went on this gastronomy adventure in the region of Costa Brava, Spain.
A porró or porrón (porró in Catalan, porrón in Spanish) is a traditional glass wine pitcher originating in Catalonia. It’s airing the wine at the same time as it encourages communal drinking! So fun. But also, so hard.
You have to be steady on the hand and get your aiming game on point.
Gastronomy Adventure in Costa Brava
Staying at Camping Les Medes
Greg and I arrived at Camping Les Medes, which is a fancier type of camping offering small apartment-style rooms, plenty of outdoor space, restaurant and a little bakery. Camping Les Medes is located just minutes outside of the coastal Catalonian town L’Estartit, overlooking majestic mountains and green surroundings. It has several outdoor pools as well as an indoor swimming pool where I spotted some early birds doing their morning exercise swimming. For the next couple of days, we were going to explore the gastronomy scene in Costa Brava and what could possibly be a more delightful adventure since this region is known for its traditional cuisine and winemaking – we were stoked to start exploring.
Camping Les Medes and its authentic restaurant is a family owned and run affair, which creates a cozy vibe and atmosphere. We got to try the classic appetiser Pa amb Tomàquet, which has an interesting history since it was born out of the necessity to not waste food. So you know how it goes with bread, right? It can get dry, stale and quite boring pretty fast and once you’ve hit that point it’s hard to make anything fun out of it. But the Catalan people had a smart solution to that, while also taking care of the vast quantities of tomatoes this sunny region is producing. These culinary rock stars started smashing the mushy tomatoes on top of slices of the dry bread and instantly transformed it into a tasty and moist appetiser, with some drizzles of olive oil and salt on top it became a delicacy and popular dish to accompany almost any food and occasion in Catalonia.
When you’re in Costa Brava, please do yourself a favour and try the traditional dessert Crema Catalana. It’s similar to a Crème Brûlée but it’s made with milk instead of cream. A little different recipe but equally delicious. And no need to worry; that heavenly, crispy layer of caramelised sugar comes on Crema Catalana, too!
A day in Girona
We spent a day in Girona to explore some culture and a historic food spot. Our first stop was Casa Marieta. This restaurant holds a crazy amount of history in its walls, since it’s been around since 1892. I’m personally a history lover so this was a cool place to visit and enjoy home cooked, local favourites. Duck with baked pear is a traditional dish that was completely new to me. The sweetness from the pear was a nice complimentary flavour to the duck.
Costa Brava has tons of richness in both culinary, cultural and historical heritage. That is probably also why Game Of Thrones Season 6, shot a lot of their key scenes here in Girona. Everything looks ancient, mysterious and above all super authentic. The winding cobblestoned path ways make this town exciting to explore. Even though there are quite some tourists around, you can find your own little back alley with buildings and decorations that probably haven’t changed much over the past few hundred years. Imagine that…
When traveling through Costa Brava, you can suddenly spot buildings or monuments that don’t quite look like they fit into the medieval, mysterious look with stone walls and castles. When you run into something like that here, it will most certainly be a creation by the famous surrealist artist Salvador Dalí. Dalí, born in 1904 in Figueres, Catalonia, was very imaginative, and also enjoyed indulging in unusual and grandiose behaviour. His eccentric mannerisms and attention-grabbing ideas and actions sometimes drew more attention than his actual art, to the dismay of those who held his work in high esteem, and to the irritation of his critics. Mister Dalí is still a highly prominent person in Costa Brava and his heritage is present in the current arts, in history and tourism around the area. So if you happen to run into a huge pink-reddish building with gigantic eggs all over it – you know what’s up.
A visit to Martín Faixó in Sa Perafita
One of my favourite excursions we did on our Costa Brava trip was a visit to the ecological wine cellar and vineyard Martín Faixó in Sa Perafita. Its 42 hectares located high up in the mountains, and the main stone building on the property is from the 14th century. How crazy is that? The owner Rafael talks whole-heartedly about how quantity and sales are not that important to him. To Rafael, the passion lies within the quality of the wine, and picking up the important elements of that specific region. The salt from the sea that travels with the wind, is one element that clearly comes through in his wines. Specifically his red, earthy varietals. I couldn’t resist to buy several bottles and simply had to deal with the overweight of my luggage when traveling back home. But OH so worth it!
After our visit at the vineyard, Greg and I had lunch at Rafael’s restaurant Can Rafa down in the picturesque, little town of Cadaqués. For all my fellow seafood and fish lovers, this is the jam! We tried local anchovies from Cadaqués and honestly, they were the best anchovies I’ve had. To make the experience a little extra special, the fish came marinated in local, fantastic olive oil. For main courses, we all shared different types of Arròs, which is a traditional rice dish similar to the Spanish Paella, but not quite the same. The two dishes are made with different types of rice and in Paella, both the delicate flavour and the classic yellow tint comes from saffron.
A stroll around Cadaqués
If you travel through Cadaqués, I would definitely suggest that you take some time and stroll around the town. It’s a gorgeous hilly, very romantic little town. In the winter season, it has less than 3000 inhabitants but during the summer months, the town gets very busy. The crisp white stone buildings of Cadaqués lay in beautiful contrast against the blue ocean in the background. In a true Mediterranean style, tons of colorful flowers and vines are climbing up walls and balconies. It’s dreamy. This is a total gem if you want to take your date somewhere special.
Activities in Costa Brava
During our travels through Costa Brava, we got to try out different fun activities as well in between our gastronomy adventures. We tried kayaking through a clear water river surrounded by turtles and other wildlife. We went on a hike up to a medieval castle that is overlooking all of L’Estartit and the coast. We even squeezed in some golfing, amongst other outdoorsy activities. One of the days we visited a Pitch and Putt course in the town of Gualta. A Pitch & Putt is pretty perfect if you don’t have enough time to dedicate a half day to golfing. This short par 3 course is also ideal for the family as well, as it’s fairly easy to join the game even if you’re not an avid golfer. Didn’t bring your gold clubs? Don’t sweat it. The shop has a wide variety of clubs that you can rent, if you decide to go for a round!
We much enjoyed our casual round of golf followed by a traditional tapas lunch at the club’s onsite restaurant A-putt. Our well deserved chilled rosé tasted brilliant in the hot sun, and we munched on local delicacies such as mushroom croquettes and anchovies on bread with tomato.
Foodies in Costa Brava
We topped off our foodie trip with a luxurious seafood lunch at Sa Marinada in the harbour of Sant Feliu de Guíxols. Sa Marinada is not ideal for budget travellers unless you’re out celebrating a special occasion and don’t mind splurging a bit. It’s located right next to the water on a large deck with exclusive white linen napkins and big, clear tanks for the live lobsters, oysters and other delicacies. Greg and I got our fancy pants on and treated ourselves to some oysters, Cava and a number of wonderfully made seafood dishes.
After several days of cruising around the Catalonian region of Costa Brava, exploring both nature and activities, as well as culture and gastronomy, I can easily say that one of the best things with this trip was the fish and seafood. It simply doesn’t get any better. It’s super fresh and usually cooked with local olive oil that enhances all the unique flavours of the sea. This area is a place that I will travel back to for sure. There is so much more to discover, and I feel like we only just scraped the surface of all the goodness this place has to offer.
Until next time Costa Brava – Salut!
Travel tip shared by Lisa for Travel Dudes