Gastronomy of the Girona, Catalonia, Spain

The cuisine of Gironès and Pla de l’Estany is about the food and drinks typical of Girona cuisine and Lake Banyoles. Until recently, these two counties formed a county, the Gironès, created in 1940. This county is therefore the result of the union of lands of the Empordà la Selva and La Garrotxa near Girona, and therefore homogeneous. There are three vegetable garden areas, around Girona, Cassà de la Selva in Banyoles and Celrà; to the east is the Sierra de Gavarres, and to the west, the mountain of Rocacorba. The main crop in Gironès is cereals. In Pla de l’Estany, chocolate production is important.

The Gastronomy of the province of Gerona is the set of dishes and culinary customs of the province of Gerona. In there are two different subregions, inland or Ampurdán (which has influences from Aragonese and Navarre cuisine) and the Costa Brava area. It shares with the French Provence the fame for the elaboration of cassoulets. It is the Catalan province most full of contrasts, on the one hand the coast and on the other hand the forests with the Pyrenees. These landscapes combine livestock with the richest coastal production. One of the most characteristic products of the province, comes from the Girona pastry and is the xuxo. A kind of dough that is fried in olive oil that is then filled with cream.

In Girona you will find many restaurants and you can taste a whole range of cuisines: Catalan, signature, Mediterranean, oriental, market, vegetarian, Basque, fusion… And also, the city is in an area with great dynamism culinary and enjoys a geographical position that allows you to have a wide variety of ingredients and high quality products from the sea and the mountains. Girona becomes a city that receives and emits professionals, new techniques, new dishes, ideas and concepts. Today, Girona, the counties of Girona and Catalonia are one of the main focuses of world gastronomic creation.

In the history of the province it can be seen that the Roman legions passed through the Empordà areas. Pompey built an oppidum on the Via Heráclea (future Via Augusta) and the land routes passed through it. The 13th century is the period of maximum splendor of the Sephardic community and this is reflected in the influence of Sephardic cuisine in some culinary preparations such as escudellas.

The Empordà has come to be called the cradle of Spanish cuisine. In some cases, the mixture of inland and coastal ingredients provides sea and mountain dishes. Some dairy products are important, such as the butters from Alto Urgel and Cerdaña, as well as the cheese from Alto Urgel and Cerdaña.

Among the potatoes (named in some places in the province as trumfes), where we have the Trinxat amb crosta (potato and green cabbage, with the appearance of a small tortilla and a strip of fried bacon). The black Talltendre turnips are popular, as is the large assortment of edible mushrooms. One of the typical vegetable preparations of the province is the so-called Pyrenean soup with vegetables.

Meat and Fish
Pig products from slaughter. Some of the products are butifarras (white or black), salchichón, fuets (generally of a lower caliber), the so-called bisbe or paltruc which is a type of blood sausage, bull (a kind of morcón), botifarra dolça, etc. Many of these products and sausages come from Ampurdán. From the stews (or escudellas) there is the abundant Pagès escudella, served in two turns. Some meat dishes are popular such as bou estofat, beef stew with peas, tripe. Of the lamb dishes, the roasts in costellades are famous.

Among the soups are taken as popular those of garlic very popular all over Spain, the soup farina of Estartit, the mint soup (made with peppermint), the soup farigola (made with thyme), the soup ventre typical of days of slaughter. Among the poultry there are some preparations such as hens in pepitoria, the rostit chicken, the goose amb peres, the Christmas turkey (stuffed with nuts and butifarrass, the duck stuffed with apples, the Ànec amb naps (duck with turnips), the partridge with cabbages, etc. The dishes of small game are popular, like the hare with chestnuts, the rabbit to ampurdanesa, the Llapí amb cremalloles (rabbit with mushrooms), etc. Among the dishes egg has the payesa omelet (a kind of omelette countrywoman). The snails are important as part of the Catalan cuisine, sometimes collected together of friends, called cargoladas, are popular cargols to patarrallada.

Gerona’s cuisine has many fish and seafood dishes. Among the fish dishes there are those made with cod such as the Balig cod. They try to serve rock fish, sometimes served with picada. Salted anchovies with Denomination of Origin are recognized in Escala (L’Escala). Ingredients of the popular anchovy sauce. Levantine fish soups such as suquets. Some preparations with river fish such as trout, in this way you have the riu truites a la llosa (stone trout). Among the seafood it is worth highlighting the lobster with clams (Lloret de Mar), the niu or Llagosta amb pollastre (lobster with chicken),

Some pastry preparations are very popular and identifying the cuisine of the province, one case is in Baja Cerdaña the Garraus Confiture or Picaculs Los Taps which are cakes shaped like plugs, the carquinyols from Olot, Las Teules de Santa Coloma de Farnés (tile-shaped cookies), etc. In the capital, the xuxos are famous, they are a pan fruit filled with cream whose fame spreads throughout Catalan and Spanish pastry shops.

Typical dishes
The following are the most outstanding elements of the gastronomy of this region:
The xuixo is a sweet of French origin that is typical of the city of Girona. It is made of very soft, buttery dough, sprinkled with sugar and stuffed with cream. Around this dessert, there are promotions that try to attract tourism to Girona thanks to the xuixo, such as the “March of the Xuixo” organized by the Fundació Oncolliga Girona and the Girona City Council with tasting of xuixos prepared by the Guild of Confectioners of Girona. It is a march for the whole family where it is intended to travel to different places in Girona while walking without dams to discover all its charms. Today the xuixo has achieved some popularity outside Girona, and can be found in Tarragona,. It has three forms in Spanish, chucho, susú and suso.
The small dishes are a kind of tapa or entremés that usually accompanies the escudella and the rice, also typical. Anchovies are the most typical of the dishes, but are usually seasonal products.
Pot meat.
Sweet sausage, a sausage made with sugar from the Empordà.
Rice in a casserole.
Stuffed chicken.
Grilled meat.
Pig’s feet or rib

The flavors of Girona
The city of Girona stands out for its great culinary dynamism based on the combination of traditional cuisine and avant-garde cuisine, without forgetting its roots and the indigenous product of the territory. Its extensive range of restaurants, with a wide variety of Catalan, Mediterranean, market cuisine, signature, includes establishments awarded with Michelin stars and also the best restaurant in the world according to the prestigious Restaurant Magazine: El Celler of Can Roca. The gastronomy of Girona has thus become an international benchmark.

The Lleó market
The Lleó market is the distribution center for fresh produce in the city. It houses a total of 60 stalls of various types: meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, groceries… The market is a mandatory stop for many chefs in the city, who stock up here with products for their restaurants, as well as a meeting and shopping point daily of the citizens.

Products from here:
The xuixo, a sweet that can be found in many pastry shops in the city
The Girona apple
The sweet sausage, a product of medieval origin that can be acquired tender or cured
The chocolate bonbons inspired by the legends of the city
The wines and cavas of the Empordà
The ratafía, sweet liqueur made from local herbs
The salsify and mushrooms
the sausages
The oils and sauces typical of Catalan cuisine

Gastronomic events

Gastronomic Forum
Congress, fair, demonstrations and multidisciplinary activities for professionals and lovers of the kitchen. A space designed to interact with businessmen and professionals, an unbeatable opportunity to retain customers, attract other potentials and to discover the latest trends in the sector. The fair welcomes from leading companies in the foodservice, equipment, services and distribution sector, to small producers in the primary sector and food crafts.Porques FairCommitment to internationalization. To promote commercial exchange, the Gastronomic Forum also attracts international buyers interested in the sectors present at the fair.

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At the Fòrum Gastronòmic, the floor is given to chefs, chefs, sommeliers, pastry chefs, bakers, cheese makers, butchers… The stagesPreserving knowledge and practices, reflecting the diversity of styles that coexist in the kitchen, offering a platform to consecrated geniuses and opening the stage to young people who push hard.

Agora: Space for exhibitors where presentations and tastings of their products and / or services are made.
Workshops: Forum Model. Cooking demonstrations with final tasting.
Forumgastronomic: The fair space is unique, dynamic and participatory. It is the ideal showcase for the latest developments in the sector and an extraordinary commercial platform.
Audience: Space equipped with the best means that allows you to enjoy the live cooking show by the best chefs.
Wine Forum: The world of wine hides countless secrets. The best winemakers, viticulturists, sommeliers and prescribers explain the secrets and share their experiences with the public. Fórum Vino also allows you to taste the best wines with them.
Sweet Forum: Consolidated specialization of the Gastronomic Forum that offers sessions led by the great sweet specialists.
Company Forum: Throughout a morning, professionals from the restaurant industry and business and hotel management address current issues from different points of view.

Gastronomic days
The city’s restaurants organize gastronomical samples with the local products of each season: Truffle Day, Summer Cooking Show, «Rambles» and Taste, Film and Gastronomy Cycle…

Home catering and take away
Girona City Council has activated a web section to publicize the bars, restaurants and cafes in the city that offer home delivery and take away. The initiative aims to support and give visibility to establishments that have been forced to close due to the new restrictions decreed by PROCICAT to stop the spread of COVID-19. On this website we can find the contact details of the establishments, arranged by categories according to the type of gastronomy and the type of service they offer: home delivery or take away.

El Celler de Can Roca
El Celler de Can Roca is a restaurant in Girona, Catalonia, Spain opened in 1986 by the Roca brothers, Joan, Josep and Jordi. It was first located next to their parents’ restaurant Can Roca, but moved to its current purpose-built building in 2007. It has been received warmly by critics, and holds three Michelin stars. In 2013 and 2015, it was named the best restaurant in the world by the magazine Restaurant, after having been ranked second in 2011, 2012 and 2014, a status achieved again in 2018.

The cooking style is the “techno-emotional” finger, emotional because they seek to recover aromas and tastes lost in the memory of the diner and through the unconscious (as when we hear an old song) remind us of past personal experiences. This following the traditional culinary techniques but also new ones, if these allow to add improvements, especially with regard to a careful presentation of the dishes. An example of the “new” technology they use is the distillation of the earth to incorporate its taste into some of the dishes.

Some other of these techniques are caramel blown as if it were glass; vacuum cooking at a stable and controlled temperature and time, with a device called rohner, to achieve a better sweetness than that of the bain marie and applied to a dish as local as cod with spinach, raisins and pine nuts; the perfumcocció, in the same way that we can add a branch of thyme to the fire to perfume a rib, you can put other herbs and spices in the bottom of a pan and cover them with a sieve at a certain distance, on which it is cooked to example a fish, which is “smoked” with this spice without touching it; the smoke, in the same way that we know solid and liquid preparations, some plates are also presented in a bell with a smoke that perfumes the rest of the plate and that will escape when opening it; etc. In the autumn of 2016, the Palau Robert dedicated an exhibition to him on the occasion of his 30th birthday.

El Celler de Can Roca was founded in 1986 by the Roca brothers next to their family’s main restaurant Can Roca which had been open on the site since 1967. The oldest brother, Joan Roca is the head chef; Josep Roca, the middle brother, is the sommelier, and the youngest brother, Jordi Roca, is in charge of desserts. Because of their work at the restaurant, the brothers have appeared at Harvard University in the United States as part of the Science and Cooking program.

In late 2007 the restaurant moved to a modern building custom-built for the restaurant about 100 meters from the prior location, with the original location still being used for staff meals. The new layout features wooden floors, with simply dressed tables. On each table sit three stones to signify the three Roca brothers, while the tableware is Rosenthal china. The enlarged kitchen in the new location includes space for thirty chefs to work and also features Joan Roca’s open plan office, so that he can keep an eye on the chefs even while he is doing more administrative tasks. At least one of the three brothers is present for every service. There is a capacity for 45 diners.

El Celler de Can Roca appeared on the UK television series MasterChef: The Professionals on 13 December 2011. The three finalists in the competition were asked to cook their own creations for the three Roca brothers, as well as cooking six of the restaurant’s signature dishes for a group of invited guests. Mark Birchall, the 2009 winner of the Roux Scholarship elected to work at El Celler de Can Roca as part of his prize. Birchall was head chef of L’Enclume in Cartmel, England, under chef-patron Simon Rogan. This resulted in the restaurant appearing on the featured chef series of British chef networking website “The Staff Canteen”.

The restaurant primarily uses local ingredients from the Catalan area. Simple flavour combinations are combined with molecular gastronomy techniques and unusual presentations of food, including caramelised olives which are presented on a bonsai tree. The Michelin Guide describes the type of cuisine produced by El Celler de Can Roca simply as “creative”, while Edward Owen of The Times said it was a “fusion of traditional dishes with surrealist touches”. Techniques include the freezing of calamari with liquid nitrogen and then blended in order to be piped and baked into a cracker.

When diners first arrive, they are given a selection of small bites from a section of the kitchen called “El Món”, who only produce small snack portions for the guests. They typically demonstrate flavours from around the world and come in sets of five. These introduce the diner to the unusual techniques and presentations of the restaurants. For example, a small ball of frozen spiced fish stock coated in cocoa butter represents Thailand, while the set comes on a purpose-built wooden holder. While there are typical fine dining ingredients including in the menu such as lobster and foie gras, due to the Catalan influence on the menu, ingredients such as pigeon, hake and pig’s trotters also appear. Fish dishes include a crayfish velouté, accompanied by spring onions with cocoa and mint.

They have created some dishes and desserts based on perfumes such as Calvin Klein’s Eternity, Carolina Herrera, Lancôme and Bulgari. This has resulted in a perfume being released by the restaurant itself, called Nuvol de Ilimona. It was based on a dessert served at the restaurant called Lemon Distillation, and was developed to spray as a mist over the diners as they ate the dish. The wine list is split into separate lists for red and white, and is delivered on a trolley to each table.

El Celler de Can Roca has been praised by fellow chefs, with Michel Roux describing it as “one of the top restaurants in Europe”, and Michel Roux, Jr. stating that it was his favourite restaurant. Nicholas Lander reviewed the restaurant for the Financial Times in 2008 and also praised the veal tartare, but was impressed by the main of kid goat, and the dessert of sheep’s milk ice cream.

Jonathan Gold of the Wall Street Journal wrote of the presentation of the caramelised olives, describing it as “delectable and unforgettable”. In September 2011, it was included in a list of the top ten places to eat by Tony Turnbull, The Times food editor. Critic A. A. Gill compared the restaurant to former restaurant ElBulli, saying that it wasn’t a direct replacement and was an “outstanding kitchen, and part of the great confident wave of new Spanish food that is complex, technically exhausting, aware of the landscape, history and politics”. The comparison is commonly made, with El Celler de Can Roca often being referred to as the successor to ElBulli which was once ranked as the number one restaurant in the world.

The restaurant was awarded its first Michelin star in 1995, its second in 2002 and was awarded three star status in 2009. It remains at that level of accolade as of the 2019 Michelin Guide. El Celler de Can Roca has been listed in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants by Restaurant magazine since 2006 when it was ranked 21st. In 2009 it was ranked fifth and was awarded the prize for being the highest climbing restaurant on the list. In 2010, it rose one place to fourth and in 2011, 2012 and 2014, it was ranked in second place behind Danish New Nordic cuisine restaurant Noma, with fellow Spanish restaurant Mugaritz in third place. On 29 April 2013, and again on 1 June 2015, the restaurant was named the best in the world. The restaurant has maintained a top 3 spot since, 2nd in 2016 and 2018, 3rd in 2017. In The Daily Meal’s inaugural list of the best 101 restaurants in Europe in 2012, El Celler de Can Roca was ranked twelfth. During the same year, it was named as restaurant of the year by The Sunday Telegraph.

Tags: Spain