A hotel with a chocolate flavor and another vegetarian, picnics in the forest with wild flowers and plants, volcanic dishes… We propose this different ‘gastro’ route
You don’t have to go far to enjoy a most delicious Easter. A good route in this sense is the one that we propose now: leave Girona and go up the Llémena valley to Olot. At each stop you can give pleasure to the palate in these restaurants and hotels.
Brunch, chocolate tour and night at Casa Cacao (Girona)
When making a list of places to eat very well in Girona, it is easy to recommend El Celler de Can Roca. But it is expensive and exclusive and it is difficult to get a table. Instead, the Roca brothers have other cheaper proposals that will make you enjoy at stratospheric levels. One of them is cocoa housewhich is a shop (or rather, a ‘jewelry’ of chocolates and bonbons) and a ’boutique’ hotel on whose roof terrace with views of the city you can order a ‘forquilla’ breakfasteat an ‘brunch‘, tap or take a drink or a cocktail. And in whose basements the expert Damian Allsop makes the chocolate and tells you, through a ‘tour’ of his facilities, how he turns the cocoa beans into the temptations that they sell in the store and serve on the rooftop. As if that were not enough, right next to it is cocoa bara space where you can taste all the preparations they make with suobrador chocolate: hot and cold drinks, chocolates, pastries…
Part by part. The ‘brunch‘, prepared by chefs trained at El Celler, costs €45 with a glass of cava and wine, and includes five courses (cheese board, Iberian ham, a homemade pâté with pistachios to go crazy, a poularda cannelloni that chooses to be the best of the 21st century…), a yogurt, some seasonal fruits, a tower of chocolate sweets (that ‘ xuixo’ stuffed…), and some unrivaled views the river Onyar, the cathedral, the Roman wall and, ultimately, the entire Barri Vell. It’s more of an experience than a meal.
The hotel, with rooms starting at €230, is as cute as it gets. The elegant and warm hand of Anna Payet, Joan Roca’s wife, who is in charge of this project, is evident in the choice of every detail, from natural wood to custom-made furniture to make you feel at home.
And the ‘chocotour’ in the chocolate factory is educational beyond measure. It is 40 minutes in which you will discover, from the hand of the experts Damian Allsop and Valeria Naumova, that you had a mental cocoa that you had about chocolate. Luckily, the tasting at the end clears everything up for you (€18).
cocoa house. Plaza de Catalunya, 23 (Girona). Telephone: 972 90 59 05.
Dvnum, a unique cheese trolley in Girona
Girona is a gastronomic capital for restaurants like Dvnuma very elegant establishment in the Barri Vell that proposes a delicate and careful signature cuisine based on products from the territory which is adorned with some Girona wines (and from other latitudes) very well selected and paired by the sommelier and co-owner of the house, Laura Tejero. More precise is the term ‘authors kitchen‘, since in the kitchen they dazzle the daring and the execution of two twentysomethings, Arnau Casadevall (he was at Bo.tic and the Camiral restaurant at PGA Golf) and Isidre Soler (son of the homonymous chef from Barcelona Tram-Tram).
They not only cook wonderfully; they also shine in the room finishing the dishes in front of the clientele. A good example of efficient room service run by Joan Morillo, the other owner of the business that started 20 years ago as a wine and cheese bar. That’s why he has a unique cheese cart in town. Without a doubt, the Repsol sun is more than deserved. Their tasting menu, with great dishes such as foie gras peanuts, calçot fake chocolate with romesco sauce, baked celeriac with trout roe and meunière sauce, and grilled tear peas, with fresh wasabi, marrow foam and green curry sauce, costs 100 euros (60 more with an outstanding pairing). The short menu, 60 without drink. A la carte, about 80.
Dvnum. Albereda, 7 (Girona). Telephone: 872 08 02 18.
Can Buch, a vegetarian hotel in the Llémena valley
Vegetarians and vegans can also enjoy a great time on a getaway to the province of Girona. A more than recommended corner is Can Buch, in the Llémena valley, a relatively unexplored tourist area, between Gironès and Garrotxa. This farmhouse, rebuilt with stone, mud and wood under strict bio-construction criteria that uses renewable energy and has seven rooms, is reached via a forest track. It’s worth getting lost there to rest and try their dishes made with local organic products.
Half of its gastronomic offer is free of meat and animal products. The other half is made with eggs from their hens, chickens from their farmyard and lambs from their farm.. In all cases, they serve well-presented and well-executed dishes in which there is no lack of some other wild flower or plant from the environment that can be accompanied by home made beers.
The breakfasts are buffet (own jams, vegan coconut yoghurts, local cheeses, ‘detox’ juices…) and a plate of ‘forquilla’ (omelette, scrambled eggs…) and cost €14. At noon they serve a fun picnic basket that you can eat in the restaurant or take with you for a walk (€14) and at night there is a menu (€26) with a starter, a first, a second and a dessert, with bread and water. Open from Wednesday to Sunday from October to May, and every day from June to September.
Can Buch. Can Buch, s/n (Sant Aniol de Finestres). Telephone: 608 88 84 80.
Bathing (and eating) in the forest
An excursion among the trees can end in a curious and revealing Picnic based on wild flowers and plants. This is what Anaïs de Villasante proposes in her forest baths. She asks you to disconnect your mobile for two or three hours to connect with nature and discover and savor the vegetation that surrounds you.
After walking and meditating alone in the green, you sit around a small tablecloth with mini-tapas made with pimpernel (it tastes like cucumber!), borage, nettles… and you finish off the bites with an infusion, for example, of violets that you have been collecting during the excursion. If you want more, you can go with her where it suits you cook what you have collected and prepare a little dinner while you recite that ‘green I love you green’.
Wood scents. Telephone: 627 775 862.
This is how the volcanic cuisine of Olot tastes
Much is said about volcanic cuisine and a visit to Olot allows you to try it first-hand, be it in Michelin star restaurants like Les Colswhich has two, as in the eight establishments in the area that are members of the Cuina Volcànica collective, which serve dishes with products from these fertile lands such as ‘fesol’ (bean) from Santa Pau, ‘farro’ (white corn flour grown in the area), the potato from Vall d’en Bas, the ‘serrat d’ovella’ cheese, the ‘nap negre’ (turnip with black skin), the ‘piumoc’ (dry pork rib sausage). .. Restaurants are The Deu, The Fair Fifth Y The Moixina (all three, in Olot), Saint Michael (Sant Esteve d’en Bas), Restaurant Hostal dels Ossos (Batet de la Serra), Ca La Matilde (Sant Feliu de Pallerols), L’Hostalet (Hostalets d’en Bas), Can Xel (Saint Paul).
Before or after a volcanic agape you can visit Montsacopa, one of Olot’s volcanoes which had its last eruption 75,000-100,000 years ago (even so, the region of La Garrotxa is considered an active zone because the last eruption was 11,000 years ago from Croscat). It is an urban volcano next to the houses and where people go running or walking the dog. Next to the crater, which is now a meadow, is the Sant Francesc chapel and a bar-restaurant with a glass-enclosed room and a terrace with views over the city.
La Garrinada, Bisaroques, Montolivet are the four main ones but it is suspected that Olot is urbanized on many more volcanoes. An example is that the Crater Space (the most important reference center on volcanoes in Spain thanks to its educational and entertaining audiovisual and interactive content and recently opened) next to Montsacopa, it was built on another volcano discovered in 2015, Puig del Roser.