September 30, 2022

Happy Travel & Tour

Specialists Travel & Tours

Discovering how the Costa Brava has shed its package-holiday image

Mother nature blesses the coastline of the Costa Brava. Listed here, the Girona Pyrenees converge with the Mediterranean and approximately 40 miles of corrugated coastline extend from Blanes, north of Barcelona, all the way to France.

Inland, forests of pines, poplars and oaks make this a single of Iberia’s lushest corners. Produce is bounteous the raw elements for great and earthy dishes involve the wine and oil from Emporda, the rice from Friends, the anchovies from L’Escala, the purple prawns from Palamos, the kidney beans from Santa Pau, and the sea urchins from ultramarine waters.

The Costa Brava captured the British creativity initially as a package holiday break vacation spot in the 1960s. But following its minute in the sunlight, resort cities these types of as Lloret de Mar ended up eclipsed by the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol all through the 1970s and 1980s.

Lydia reveals that she explored Girona, over, ‘not road by avenue but morsel by morsel’. She adds: ‘Girona presents a day-to-day life that is obviously gastronomic. Fish stalls glisten with purple, uncooked scorpion fish, and gooey piles of squid. In bars and cafes there is espresso with chuchos – product rolled into crisp sweet pastry – croquetas stuffed with leftover stew, pan con tomate draped with Escala anchovies and Emporda wines’

These times although, the concentrate is on gourmand lifestyle and character. The coast is mainly the playground of Barcelona, and several locals examine out of city at weekends and head here to hike, swim, or forage for rovello mushrooms.

Most importantly, the Costa Brava is in which the Catalans reinvented Spanish cuisine. 

Most foodies argue that this was the normal consequence of exquisite deliver and the nouvelle cuisine of the French South bleeding down from the border, cross-fertilising with residence-grown expertise. Ferran Adria and the Roca brothers triggered the avalanche of Michelin stars: now the location has 16.

I’ve arrived here principally to consume, on my initially excursion abroad considering that the Covid pandemic began and, fittingly, stay at the 77-area-and-suite Hostal de la Gavina. Opened in 1932, it nestles with a defiant unchangingness amid all this foodie pedigree on a prized rocky promontory in S’Agaro, an hour north of Barcelona.

Heritage: Lydia checked into the 77-room-and-suite Hostal de la Gavina, which opened in 1932

Heritage: Lydia checked into the 77-space-and-suite Hostal de la Gavina, which opened in 1932

Hostal de la Gavina 'nestles with a defiant unchangingness... on a prized rocky promontory in S'Agaro, an hour north of Barcelona'

Hostal de la Gavina ‘nestles with a defiant unchangingness… on a prized rocky promontory in S’Agaro, an hour north of Barcelona’

Hostal de la Gavina's subterranean Michelin-starred restaurant, Candlelight by Romain Fornell

Hostal de la Gavina’s subterranean Michelin-starred restaurant, Candlelight by Romain Fornell

An example of one of the artfully presented dishes at the Candlelight by Romain Fornell restaurant

Hostal de la Gavina's Blue Bar terrace

Pictured remaining is an example of just one of the artfully presented dishes at the Candlelight by Romain Fornell restaurant. On the right is Hostal de la Gavina’s Blue Bar terrace

The Hostal de la Gavina's Spanish old-world glamour has attracted over the years Hollywood stars, European royalty and even Lady Gaga

The Hostal de la Gavina’s Spanish previous-entire world glamour has attracted above the a long time Hollywood stars, European royalty and even Lady Gaga

The hotel’s Spanish previous-planet glamour has attracted in excess of the a long time Hollywood stars, European royalty and even Girl Gaga. But the main clientele are generations of good Barcelona families and the odd incomer from the Cote d’Azur. 

Repeat attendees normally stick religiously to the similar dates, and even in the exact same rooms. Inlaid marble and parquet floors, giant sprays of bouquets, Hellenic-model pillars and ubiquitous bulbous mahogany smack of old Spain. But the hotel’s raison d’etre is generating the most of its food stuff heritage.

There are a few places to eat, just one Michelin-starred, and Gavina methods food items in a way that veers pleasingly in between unreconstructed Spanishness, and deftly conceptualised fantastic eating.

Seconds following I get there, a woman appears at my door brandishing a significant crested evening meal plate piled substantial with glistening jamon Iberico. ‘Are you certain that’s for me?’ I talk to. ‘Segura,’ she replies.

Just a single slice prior to evening meal are not able to damage, I inform myself, then devour it in 1 go. Before long just after, I head with my group to Hostal de la Gavina’s subterranean Michelin-starred restaurant, Candlelight by Romain Fornell. It is little, lower-essential, and beautiful. The foods is served on pastel plates painted with leaves and flowers.

A junior suite at the Hostal de la Gavina. Touching on the hotel's interiors, Lydia says: 'Inlaid marble and parquet floors, giant sprays of flowers, Hellenic-style pillars and ubiquitous bulbous mahogany smack of old Spain'

A junior suite at the Hostal de la Gavina. Touching on the hotel’s interiors, Lydia suggests: ‘Inlaid marble and parquet floors, huge sprays of bouquets, Hellenic-design pillars and ubiquitous bulbous mahogany smack of aged Spain’

Jamon Iberico is popular in the Costa Brava region. Lydia devours a whole plateful of it at her hotel

Jamon Iberico is popular in the Costa Brava location. Lydia devours a entire plateful of it at her resort

The degustation (tasting) menu is peppered with quite, intensely flavoured items: foie bonbons, liquid olives, and the tiniest of child shrimps decorated with a soupcon of plankton mayonnaise. 

There are three butters: rosemary, white wine and tomato. A fennel vichyssoise is served on a large slab of ice embellished with rose petals like a shimmering culinary watercolour. 

Later we retire to El Barco, the bar they contact The Boat for its panelling and its analyzed air of getting on a Titanic-era ship. 

It appears as if it has not improved since 1932. Staff stay at La Gavina so prolonged that as recently as last year, the now-retired bartender was on hand to regale people about a row he at the time witnessed between Ava Gardner and her companion Frank Sinatra in the bar in 1951. 

A view of the 11th Century castle Salvador Dali bought for his lover, Gala, in Pubol, which he also used as a studio until 1984. Lydia dropped by, but said: 'We don't linger: sunshine and Michelin stars are calling'

A watch of the 11th Century castle Salvador Dali purchased for his lover, Gala, in Pubol, which he also utilised as a studio until 1984. Lydia dropped by, but stated: ‘We really don’t linger: sunshine and Michelin stars are calling’

The Costa Brava coast's most famous son, Salvador Dali

The Costa Brava coast’s most well-known son, Salvador Dali

Getting that his female was in a suspected dalliance with bullfighter-turned-actor Mario Cabre on the set of Pandora And The Flying Dutchman, Sinatra flew in to verify up on her. 

Immediately after a handful of dry martinis, she slapped him round the encounter, but in the long run she forgave him his machismo and they nevertheless bought married later on that year.

Obtaining eaten our way by means of the lodge, we department out to nearby Girona, discovering it not road by road but morsel by morsel. 1 of the longest-proven towns in Spain, Girona constructed its wealth on paper mills, pink wine, cork manufacturing and furnishings. 

As its citizens fiercely advocate for self-determination, the crimson and gold flags of independence hang from a lot of home windows. Stolidly center-class and uniformly affluent when contrasted with Barcelona’s extremes of prosperity and poverty, Girona gives a daily existence that is normally gastronomic.

Fish stalls glisten with pink, uncooked scorpion fish, and gooey piles of squid. In bars and cafes there is espresso with chuchos – cream rolled into crisp sweet pastry – croquetas stuffed with leftover stew, pan con tomate draped with Escala anchovies and Emporda wines.

The coast’s most famed son is Salvador Dali, so we take time to go to the 11th Century castle he bought for his lover, Gala, in Pubol, utilized as a studio until 1984.

Stunning-pink bougainvillea shrouds its outline in opposition to a cornflower sky. Dali was only allowed to take a look at at Gala’s invitation, or so the guideline statements. There are gold fish for faucets, and sculptural heads adorn the swimming pool. Gala is buried in the basement, in a lonely and melancholy mausoleum. We do not linger: sunshine and Michelin stars are calling.

Els Tinars cafe, which has a bustling, country-residence sense and white-on-white decor, is just off a 4-lane freeway, but a thicket of pine trees shields us from it all. 

The mouth watering lunchtime degustation features quite a few perfections, but it is the blue lobster with Iberian bacon, and figs with olive oil ice product and caramelised pain perdu, that linger in my mouth.

On a price range flight property later that afternoon, I peruse the in-flight menu. It is really a cruel come-down right after a glorious previous supper, and I remind myself to relieve out far more gently the upcoming time I occur to the Costa Brava to try to eat myself foolish.

Travel FACTS 

B&B at Hostal de la Gavina costs from £240 per space for every evening (lagavina.com/en).