If you live on planet Earth, it's probably not necessary to mention that Girona is where you'll find a place considered, more than once, the best restaurant in the world: El Celler de Can Roca. The owners, the three Roca brothers, are totally committed to the city as well as being some of its most famous sons, and the fact that El Celler is not within the reach of all budgets gave them the idea to create somewhere that everybody, or almost, could at least try some of their desserts. They wanted to rescue the concept of the ice cream cart but rules are rules, and in the end they opened a workshop on C/ Santa Clara, which makes clients feel like Charlie in the chocolate factory.
Before the brand of La Jijonenca took over the local ice cream market, and long, long before franchises arrived with (pseudo) Italian names and cartoonish flavours, many Girona residents were used to queuing at Candela for their sweet treats. Located at the end of Rambla de la Llibertat, this was the first ice cream shop in Girona. And it wasn't just a summer destination to get ice cream: in the winter, locals went there to buy their Christmas 'torró' (a nougat-like bar). Opened by Victoriano Candela, it has survived a war, a dictatorship and the arrival of the Internet, but Candela is still as popular as ever. The shop continues to make high-quality torrons and sweets, and traditional artisan ice cream using the best ingredients. This is ice cream like it used to be.
In Banyoles they know what's what: that there's no need to go to Italy to enjoy great ice cream. You just have to head to Janeret, an artisanal ice cream shop run by Jaume Sitjà and Dolors Portell. About five years ago they decided to give up their work in charge of the desserts at Hotel Mirallac to open Janeret, and it's already established itself as a local institution. That's thanks to their creative, artisanal ice creams made with quality, locally sourced ingredients, such as fresh milk from the Granja Mas Colomer d'Esponellà farm. If you're lactose intolerant, don't worry - they also make ice creams that you can enjoy.
In the coastal town of Palafrugell there's just one place to eat real ice cream: Enxaneta. Creamy, artisanal ice creams made with top-quality ingredients and, as the owners say, 'we incorporate the values that characterise the 'castellers' [teams who create high human towers by standing on each other's shoulders]: strength, sense, values and balance'; the 'enxaneta' is the small child who climbs right to the top of a tower and raises their hand to signify its completion. As well as classic flavours Enxaneta also has more original options such as rose and donut. And the house star is 'crema catalana', which tastes just like the best dessert of that name made by Catalan grannies. These really are 'high' quality ice creams! They also have crepes, milk shakes, waffles and slushed ice drinks ('granissats').
Are you coeliac? Lactose intolerant? On a diet? At La Bombonera you'll find ice cream made without milk, sugar and gluten! And all their products are made to the same maxim: don't add anything that might alter the natural flavour of the ingredients. The result is addictive, artisanal ice creams in both traditional and innovative flavours such as G&T, mojito and violet - the latter of which tastes like heaven. If you're a chocoholic, you must try 'la bombonera', which is created using a variety of cocoa types. And they use numerous locally sourced ingredients.
Those of us who consider ourselves modest people and satisfied with life think that happiness is enjoying a good horchata (summer drink made with tiger nuts, almonds or rice) in the sun. One of the few places on the Costa Brava where they still make it using the artisan style and fresh each day, is at La Jijonenca de Palamós, which is also known as Gelateria Candela ('gelat' is ice cream in Catalan). La Jijonenca is located in that part of Palamós that has just a hint of Cannes about it, and the best moment to head there to enjoy this delicious drink is before heading home after an afternoon on the beach, on a summer evening as the sun calmly sets; it's ideal for recharging your batteries for the night.