What: Fine-dining at a small medieval village in the Garrotxa region of Catalonia.
Where: Cal Sastre restaurant, Santa Pau.
Notes: Santa Pau is a sleepy medieval village in the Garrotxa Volcanic region of Catalonia, north of Barcelona. The village is tiny but there are a variety of reasons that make a visit absolutely worthwhile: its medieval porticoes, alleys and arches; its 15th century Gothic church; and one of the finest culinary gems in the region: Cal Sastre.
I first visited Cal Sastre during the #InCostaBrava blog trip in May 2011. We had spent the morning at arguably one of the best restaurants in the world, El Bulli, where we had the opportunity to meet Ferran Adriá and taste some of his world famous cuisine. From El Bulli, we made our way to the Garrotxa Volcanic region and stopped at Santa Pau, where we were led on a walking tour that ended at the porticoes of Cal Sastre.
What followed was an unforgettable lunch consisting of the best wild mushroom cannelloni I’ve ever had and an equally superb Crema Catalana. The contrast between the cutting-edge cuisine at El Bulli and the wholesome goodness of traditional Catalan fare at Cal Sastre couldn’t have been greater! Needless to say, it was a culinary experience I won’t easily forget.
The highlight of the meal was the wild mushroom cannelloni, topped with a sprinkling of crushed black truffles and pistachio nuts. The rich flavours of the wild mushrooms and cream combined superbly with the soft, smooth texture of the cannelloni. Each mouthful felt like a spoonful of heaven and I greedily swept through three whole servings!
I returned to the Costa Brava in July to explore more of the region and I made sure I had ample time for another round of heaven at Cal Sastre. I was welcomed with a big hug and a delicious cava. After consulting with Jesús, the proprietor, I ordered the cannelloni, tuna tataki with trout caviar and the steak with morel sauce. The cannelloni was just as good as the first time but I limited myself to a single serving this time around! The tuna tataki was incredibly fresh and blended beautifully with the slightly salty caviar. A pinch of wasabi was sufficient to complete the dish.
The steak soon followed, complemented by a gorgeous red wine from the Montsant region (Clos del Gos 2009/Montsant/grenache, samso & syrah). The meat was very tender and juicy, grilled to perfection (medium, just the way I like my steaks) and served with a creamy morel sauce and green asparagus. Absolutely stunning! The morel sauce was superb but the springy texture and rich flavour of the meat and the way it was expertly cooked took centre-stage. It was another phenomenal dining experience at Cal Sastre!
I highly recommend Cal Sastre to anyone passing through this part of Catalonia. Drop by for an unforgettable meal or stay for a few days – the proprietor, Jesús, has a rather quirky hotel (a must see, to be honest!) in the village. You’ll love it!
Note: my first trip to Costa Brava was part of the #InCostaBrava blog trip organised by the Costa Brava Tourism Board. As always, all views expressed in this post are mine.