A local classic since 1968, El Trull, located between Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar, will make you feel at home and serve you the most archetypal seafood dishes. They take great care with their ingredients, choosing the best fish and shellfish from the markets at Blanes, Palamós, Port de la Selva and Llançà to cook them according to original recipes, then present them with style. Tradition and innovation go hand-in-hand in this kitchen. Take a look at the sea urchins stuffed with fish and shellfish, the ragu of sea bass, and the snapper with salsify and cuttlefish meatballs. And there's much more: the rice dishes, browned noodles and fisherman's stew all deserve an award, while the shellfish platters with lobster are renowned among their customers. The restaurant can host celebrations and parties of all kinds.
At Can Jeroni they still serve 'farmers' breakfasts' ('ezmorzars de pagès') like in the good old days. Veal with wild mushrooms, calf's feet and tripe, cuttlefish with peas, veal cheek with onions or kidneys cooked in wine. Do you dare? Believe me, after a substantial breakfast like that, you'll be able to meet any challenge that the day throws at you. At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, Roser, the fourth generation of women in charge of the restaurant's kitchen, says that at Can Jeroni they do women's cooking. They have the Girona farmer's market nearby, and this can be tasted in their dishes, which are all made with quality ingredients. They also create more modern recipes: cod fritters, Galician-style octopus from Roses, cod with mousseline or with pepper and tomato, cod rice with artichokes or with cuttlefish and crayfish, and much more. They regularly adapt their menu to feature seasonal products, and 90 percent of their wine list features local Empordà wines.
If you want to try classic Catalan stews, you should make a beeline for Can Muní. They're experts at traditional Empordà cooking, and especially dishes that require time to make. Highlights include the black rice, pig's trotters with Palamós prawns, chicken with langoustines, and rock mussels, which are served with a variety of sauces: mushrooms, fine herbs, au gratin or 'revolucionaris' (with garlic mayonnaise). At Can Muní, which is located in what are thought to be former outbuildings of Calonge castle, you can feel like a feudal lord from the Middle Ages, thanks to the medieval menu they prepare. Watch from the dining-room as they prepare aubergine au gratin with onion, pepper and pine kernels, and 'moixeric' chicken, a sweet-and-sour centuries-old recipe that they make with honey, almonds, egg and aromatic herbs. It's accompanied by Vi de Pagès ('country wine'), produced with their own varieties from the conca del Tinar area since the 15th century, and which ferments naturally in the barrels.
To talk about El Motel you need to use a lot of emphasis. It's one of the greats of L'Empordà. In fact, some say that this is where modern Catalan cooking was born, at the hand of Josep Mercader, chef and founder of the Hotel Empordà, where El Motel is located. Mercader renovated traditional Catalan and Empordà cuisine, inspired by 'nouvelle cuisine'. Dishes that nowadays are considered part of the region's gastronomic tradition are, in fact, his creations, such as bean salad with mint, thyme soup and parsnips with blue cheese, all of which you'll still find on the Motel menu. Jaume Subirós, the current chef and Mercader's son-in-law, has continued this style, and works with fresh, seasonal ingredients in line with the rules of the modern Catalan kitchen.
This is a classic both of Girona and traditional Catalan cuisine. Situated right in the heart of the city, at Casa Marieta you'll feel as though you're eating the cooking of the best grandmothers in Girona! You'll (re)discover the flavours of the most traditional home-made stews, such as one with chicken and langoustines, or the one with duck and pears, as well as dishes such as snails and classic Catalan cannelloni ('canellons'). Fish is also a key ingredient, both simply cooked and in age-old recipes, such as fisherman-style fish stew, cuttlefish with peas, and roasted cod with smooth garlic mousseline. The dishes are all adapted to what's in season, so take note of the changing dishes of the day – there's always a surprise or two that you won't regret trying. Casa Marieta is also an excellent suggestion if you're looking for somewhere to dine in a group, and they'll organise a set menu to fit in with your collective budget.
Cap i Pota is synonymous with Catalan cuisine that is cooked slowly, letting the ingredients gently bubble away, making it ideal if you love dipping your bread in the leftover juices with no hurry about finishing your meal. The restaurant is also the dream made reality of Artur Sagués, head of the dining-room who has a long background in the field. He started as a waiter in the early days of El Bulli, working with Juli Soler, and after three years moved to be assistant maître d' at Senyor Parellada in Barcelona, alongside Ramon Parellada. It was this restaurant that became the biggest influence for Cap i Pota in Figueres, thanks in no small part to its concept of retrieving the traditional Catalan 'fonda' (inn). There's no set menu and the à la carte menu features some 20 permanent dishes, along with a blackboard featuring daily specials. Sagués's wife, Pietat Valenzuela, despite having little experience in the restaurant trade, is the person who prepares all these traditional delicacies and presents them with style. Among the starters, stand-out dishes include the 'xató' (cod salad with lettuce, olives, tuna, anchovies and a special sauce that includes toasted almonds and hazelnuts), tuna belly salad, marinated sardines and cod fritters. The mains include veal cheek cooked at low temperatures with mustard, oxtail in red wine, veal tongue with 'caparrons' sauce (made with red kidney beans and chorizo), and, of course the 'cap i pota' (stew of calf's foot and head) that gives
As the Alt Empordà area has mountains as well as sea, and warm restaurants with checked tablecloths, wooden beams and pans hanging on the walls, it's well worth leaving the coast behind and heading inland for a different gourmet experience. Stop off at Maçanet de Cabrenys and try the most authentic Empordà cod you've ever had: the one served at Can Tenli. It's the house speciality and made according to the recipe of grandmother Maria, with slices of potato and tomato all baked in the oven. With jugged wild boar, magret of duck and steaks with various trimmings, you'll certainly be revived after your trip to get there. The restaurant is also renowned for its snails, bean salad and home-made cannelloni ('canelons'). Do you need any more incentive to discover the Alt Empordà mountains?