Eating My Way Thru Costa Brava

If you’ve been following me on Instagram you might be under the impression that I’ve been eating my way through Costa Brava. You know what? You’d be absolutely right! While I have plenty more to share about this beautiful part of Spain, I’m leading off with a bit of food porn that will keep me in the gym for extra hours in May. It is impossible to even begin to count the calories I’ve consumed over the last twelve days.

I was in Spain attending the TBEX conference, the largest Travel Bloggers gathering in the world (more to follow on the event). What I discovered in Catulunya is that gastronomy is a huge part of the cultural experience. This trip was over the top for food tasting: 2 hour lunches, 3 hour dinners, copious amounts of Cava. The people of Costa Brava are a hearty bunch, and I had a hard time keeping up. Slow living and slow eating is the mantra in this area of the world. I hope I can take part of the concept home with me.

This digestive liquor, is claimed to have medicinal properties (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) As the Catalan writer Josep Pla says,  a glass of Ratafia gives us the essence of the people and the landscape in which it was done.  I have to say I agree, as the flavor of this particular brand was unlike anything I had ever tasted. I searched for the particular 1842, as none of the others has quite the same heavenly flavor, but to no avail. It is only available in the small town of Santa Coloma de Farners, and represents one of the oldest recipes around. A return trip is in my future.

After this tapas making workshop, my cocktail parties will never be the same! The idea of pairing simple fresh ingredients together in unique ways makes for some pretty interesting combinations.

On the beach, hotel owners and chefs from the town of Tamariu welcome us into the perfect little fisherman’s shack. Membership here is passed down from generation to generation. Cooking instruction, demonstrations, broken conversation and good laughs. Perfect temperatures, live music and flaming cremat-does it get any better than this? Experiences like this are why I love Travel Blogging. My third career reinvention hasn’t been easy, the financial reward can be elusive, but this type of authentic personal interaction has the ability to bring tears to my eyes when I remember how warm and fuzzy I felt on this afternoon. I know it sounds cliche; it was one of those events that is hard to describe, but will live with me forever.

What time is it? #incostabrava it's always Cava time. This refreshing sparkler is my new summertime favorite.

A post shared by Travel Writer•Alison Abbott (@greenwithrenvy) on

Cava is ubiquitous in Spain. Always available, light and delicious, I can’t wait to search for it at home in Boston. Could be habit forming…

Somehow I managed to save room for dessert at every meal. This clever take on a soft boiled egg was from the lovely Hotel Aigua Blava, overlooking the Mediterranean in Begur. I love a chef that doesn’t take himself too seriously and this combination of white chocolate with an oozing strawberry interior was a great way to end a feast filled with local ingredients.

I’ve given you just a little taste of all the flavors I was able to sample in this beautiful part of Spain, eating my way through Costa Brava. Make sure to come back to learn more about life in Catalonia.

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This post is part of Instagram Travel Thursday, a great way to discover new bloggers and Instagrammers who love travelling as much as we do – have a look through the links below and if you’re a blogger, join in!.

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  1. Hi Alison,

    Leaving Catalonia is a very hard thing, isn’t it? The people, the culture, and of course the food — are so endearing and lovely!
    You’ve captured the fabulous food here really well!
    Regards,
    Josie
    PS: Am having burgers on the grill with friends tonight, and the beverage is CAVA! It IS addicting. I enjoy the refreshing sparkle so much more than white wine, plus it feels celebratory. Two bottles are going down tonight! Salud!

  2. I never feel guilty about over-indulgence when away and nor should you! Looks like you enjoyed everything perfectly well! A good mixture too – healthy almost!

  3. You’re making me very homesick with this, you know. I don’t know how else to describe missing this place, even though we don’t live there. What an experience this trip was. We will not be soon over it. Gym? Shmim! So great meeting you in person and look forward to our paths crossing again.

  4. I was amazed at the food and drink there too. At each meal, the starter would have been enough, but I wanted to try EVERYTHING! In the week I was there, I gained 3 kilos, but it was worth it!

  5. Judging by the photos in this post, I should have kept having dinner with you after TBEX 😉 I only had one or two sips of cava, but cava sangria—that’s another story. I’m glad I had the chance to meet you IRL in Catalunya. Write on!

  6. I did not see a picture of that red velvet cupcake, or am l just blind? Everything looks so yummy, l could eat them all over again 🙂

  7. Wonderful photos and how you have captured the essence of how it is here in Catalonia. 🙂 The Catalans are very proud of this aspect of their culture, along with a variety of others also -and so they should be.

    Throughout the different areas of Spain, you’ll often find food offerings that are proudly claimed by provinces, towns and villages.

    I think you made an excellent decision to start off your series of posts about the Costa Brava with this theme.

  8. Made the same discovery last year on a winter trip to Catalonia. Did you know there is amazing skiing in the Pyrenees too? Anyway back to the food – I think that Italy just has had better marketing over the years than Spain, because in my opinion Spanish food – especially Catalonian – is better than Italian. Add in the sights and the great climate and you can understand why so many Northern Europeans relocate there, right? 🙂

  9. The food, the weather, the experience, all appears to have lived up to what you expected. The one photo of the shrimp looks absolutely delicious.

    • How could I possibly visit and not indulge Tom? Not sure I handled it just like a local, but certainly enjoyed the wines Spain had to offer.

    • The flavor of the particular Ratafia I had was such a heady combination of earthy and floral. I tried hard to find another I liked as much Carole, but 1842 was a clear winner for me. Let me know if you find one you like.

  10. It sounds like you had an absolute blast on your trip and the food enhanced the whole thing. I’ve been to several tapas cooking classes myself and love the simplicity of it. That plus local ingredients always makes for a great party, let’s not forget the booze. Nice post. 😉

    • Seeing the simple was tapas can be made has entirely changed the way I will serve “snacks” Good ingredients trumps everything else and allows you to keep it so easy! Thanks for your comment Melody.

    • It was remarkable Marilyn. Costa Brava has set the bar pretty high for combining a beautiful location with delicious gastronomy!

  11. My goodness! This looks so delicious!! I love food photography, it’s always such great inspiration for me for some weird reason, haha