Like every year, in June, we spend a week at the Costa Brava in Catalonia, Spain. Easily accessible by a 1 or 2 hours journey by car from Barcelona, the Costa Brava with its charming fisher villages, wild coasts and beautiful laid back beaches, is a little paradise.
One of our favorite places is the village Cadaqués, set in a sheltered bay close to the Cap de Creus peninsula. A small curvy road leads to the remote village of Cadaqués, giving you a feeling of being isolated from the rest of the world, which is part of its special flair. This little picturesque town became a popular retreat for artists and was the favorite village of Salavador Dalí, who was born in the close by city of Figueres.
A walk through the narrow streets
By walking through the steep narrow streets, you can admire the wonderful typical white houses decorated with shiny violet flowers. A church thrones at the highest part of the village, allowing a breathtaking view over the bay, right onto the famous stone found on many paintings of Dalí.
Cadaqués always fulfills me with joy and love and allows me to get into a pure relaxing state. Its beauty and atmosphere are special and have been well preserved, although you should avoid to visit during the month of August. I will share with you some of our favorite spots in Cadaqués, providing extensive pleasure for your soul and senses.
Fresh seafood tapas at Es Cau
We take a seat at the terrace of a small simple restaurant at the bay. We order a set of fish and sea food tapas and put our chairs in the right position to fully enjoy the upcoming feast. The terrace is situated such that you can enjoy a wonderful view all over the bay, the sea with the many little wooden fisher boats and the white village of Cadaqués. The view makes you forget everything and you enter into a state of pure happiness.
“això és vida” – “this is life”
The tapas arrive. I can feel the increase of serotonin in my blood and brain. On our plates you can see some of the freshest sea food tapas that you can find on the coast. The simple preparation puts forward the outstanding quality of the products. We ordered mejillones del caril, llucets, gambas de palamos a la plancha, chanquetes, navajas (mussels, small hake fish, prawns from Palamos, fried whitebait, razor shell). You can taste the sea and the fine aromas of fresh fish and seafood. The combination of the view, the laid back atmosphere and the fine seafood is amazing and always incites me to say one of my favorite sentences “això és vida” – “this is life”.
Scenic walk around the bay of Cadaqués
After this pleasant first contact with the gastronomy in Cadaqués, we make a walk all along the bay. At the end of the trail, you can get the most beautiful views of the village with the sea in front and the green hills around. From time to time you stop and just contemplate the surroundings so typical for the beautiful Costa Brava.
Apéritif at Bar Mut
Our next stop in the late afternoon is the terrace of the bar Mut, one of my favorite bars ever. We are lucky and get a nice table on the terrace with the view on the fisher boats and the sea. On the little square, luxurious trees are spending shadow and many people are meeting up to have a chat or to sit on the benches to wait for the sunset.
At the bar Mut you have to order a Vermut. It’s the most typical « apéritif » in Catalonia, a real institution. Vermut is usually white wine infused with a variety of botanicals and spices. You can add ice and a slice of orange or lemon, an olive and maybe a dash of siffón, Spain’s version of club soda.
To accompany we ordered olives and anxoves con pan con tomate (anchovies and bread with tomato). Best anchovies come from Escala, a small city on the Costa Brava. Of course the very best are made by secret recipes of the grandmothers as for example in the fantastic wine bar “Bodega Els Barrils” in Escala.
At the bar Mut, all sorts of people pass by, mostly locals, artists and also some tourists. People enjoy the bohemian and relaxed atmosphere. The bar Mut also serves some excellent freshly prepared dishes and they have a nice selection of wines, by glass and bottles.
After having enjoyed an extensive « apéritif » while watching the sun go down on the bay of Cadaqués, putting the fisher boats at a gorgeous light, we are slowly but determined, walking to the restaurant we have reserved, to finalize a perfect day.
The Restaurant Compartir
Our table is waiting for us at the lovely terrace of the restaurant Compartir. This gastronomic temple was opened by the three chefs, Oriol Castro, Mateu Casanas and Eduard Xantruch, who have proven their outstanding talent in the cooking laboratory of the emblemic El Bulli, headed by Ferran Adria.
Compartir means sharing, and they propose to the guests to share several dishes, allowing you to choose a selection of different plates, increasing the pleasure and number of flavours you can taste. The staff is very nice and welcoming, creating a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, so typical for high end spanish restaurants.
We start with an oyster refined with mizo, fine algas and salty salmon eggs. The oyster is of an incredible quality and its taste is elegantly accompanied by the different ingredients. While biting on the oyster, the full flavors develop and trigger a smile on my face expressing the pure pleasure and delight.
While biting on the oyster, the full flavors develop and trigger a smile on my face expressing the pure pleasure and delight.
The following starter is a revisited ensaladilla rusa. It’s a classical tapas that you order with vermut or a beer. Usually it is composed of a salad made out of cooked carrots, green beans, potatoes, mayonnaise and tuna. Here they prepared an elegant emulsion of potatoes and mayonnaise, that comes with the fresh vegetables, quail eggs and nearly crude extremely tasty langostinos (prawns).
We chose a white wine composed of mainly white grenache, the Blanc dels Aspres from the Bodega Vinyes dels Aspres situated in Cantallops in the region Alt Emporda in Catalonia. A generous white with a nice minerality and buttery notes given by the barrel.
The waiter then disposes a Creuset pot on our table with a mizo soup that spreads a pleasant and exotic aroma. We receive a plate with finest slices of salmon that has a bright orange color with nice white lines, and a bowl with a sauce. We cook the salmon three seconds in the mizo soup, then pass it through the sauce. The perfect texture of the salmon and the taste of the fresh fish together with the soft flavors of the mizo soup and the delicate sauce, provide a pleasant and long lasting tasting experience.
One of the “platos estrellas” (best dish) of Compartir is the canelón de atun (fresh tuna fish cannelloni). A tataki of the freshest tuna fish is enrolled in a thin slice of tuna, forming a cannelloni. This masterpiece is accompanied with many different emulsions, tapenades and sauces creating a colorful painting together with some fine olive oil pearls. The combination of all the different flavors is fantastic. It’s a very fresh and light composition which brings forward the taste of the tuna fish together with many delicate components of the additional mediterranean ingredients.
We couldn’t resist to order one dish composed of meat, although we are at the coast. We ordered conejo (rabbit), which is used very much in the catalan cuisine. The tiny costillas de conejo (rabbit chops) have been fried with a very light and elegant breading, as well as the alcachofas (artichokes). An airy dip made of apples accompanies perfectly the tender chops and artichokes. This dish seems very simple but it has been executed to perfection allowing a surprisingly pleasant taste experience.
To wrap up this wonderful dinner we ordered a desert, a decomposed Tiramisu. I have to admit, this doesn’t sound very exciting, but in this case it has been a nice surprise. A very tasty, creamy and light mascarpone emulsion was covered with home-made cookie crumbs that were slightly salty. A delicious coffee ice-cream and some coffee “gelées” rounded up the whole composition.
The dishes in Compartir are characterized by the outstanding quality and freshness of the ingredients, the delicate compositions which accompany but never hide the taste of the main ingredient, and by the little twist that surprises you. The experience is rounded up by a very professional service and easy going atmosphere, which reminds you that you are in a fisher village at the beautiful Costa Brava.
The three Chefs of Compartir have created in 2015 one of the most interesting and avant-garde restaurant in Barcelona, called Disfrutar. We will give you more insight about our visit and breathtaking culinary experience we had in Disfrutar in a future post.
A fine cocktail at Bar Boia
You can wrap up the day by taking a world class cocktail just next to the sea, on the terrace of the bar Boia. In this institution created in 1946, Manel Vehi shares with you his cocktail creations that will surprise you. He has worked with Ferran and Albert Adrià as well as in prestigious houses all over the world.
Cadaqués has all the components that allow you to spend a wonderful day, feeding all your senses and creating a feeling of pure happiness. This little paradise just has it all and we are addicted to it.