During my time in Costa Brava, the city of Girona served as my temporary home base. My participation in a walking food tour of Girona offered by Girona Food Tours was undoubtedly one of the high points of my time spent in the city.
After meeting up with my tour guide Marc at his office, which was situated in the heart of the city, we went off on our excursion together. I couldn’t believe my good fortune when I found out that the Department of Tourism for Costa Brava had set up a personalized trip particularly for me. This one-on-one trip, which the firm is already well-known for, offered us the option to be entirely flexible, which was something that I really liked. The organization is recognized for providing bespoke excursions.
Marc is not originally from Spain; rather, he is Dutch; yet, he has lived in the Catalan area for such a long time and has such expertise in and enthusiasm for not just the city but also the whole region that he is regarded as a native of the area.
As we made our way to the first of our destinations, he was eager to point out a number of intriguing aspects of the city that I would have skipped over otherwise. His elation was palpable and easy to catch from those around him.
Coffee and something sweet, in this case sourced from a bakery that has been in business continuously since 1892, was how we started our day, much as most of the locals do.
However, this delectable breakfast was not any ordinary pastry; rather, it was an xuixo, a renowned pastry that was first developed in the city of Girona.
I’m not much of a sweet tooth, as I frequently remark, so I didn’t expect to like this fried dough pastry, which is filled with crema Catalena, a local sweet cream, and coated with crystallized sugar. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. This deep-fried, sweet breakfast manages to give the impression that it’s nearly on the lighter side.
Both the flaky crust and the custard-like cream filling had a light and airy texture. To be courteous, I thought I’d only sample a little amount, but I ended up devouring almost the whole thing!
After getting our fill of caffeine and sweets, we continued our exploration of the city by walking over the Iron Bridge, which is featured on the Instagram accounts of almost every tourist that comes to the city.
I just found out that the bridge is also known as the Eiffel Bridge, which makes sense given that the Eiffel Tower was created by the same architect.
Following that, we made our way to the market in the neighborhood. The majority of the sixty food booths that make up this market are family-owned enterprises that have been passed down from generation to generation.
We strolled about, looking at the wares available at the different kiosks, and pausing every so often to try a taste of something. The proprietors of each store greeted customers warmly and were happy to engage in conversation about their wares.
I remarked that octopus was my favorite as we were sampling some sardines from one of the stands. The proprietor hastily grabbed and chopped a prime piece, then sprinkled it with paprika and drizzled it with aromatic olive oil before presenting it to us for consumption.
It was simple, but it was delectable, and it was extremely kind of her to do that.
When we went to a another booth, the one selling sausage, we experienced something quite similar. The proprietor brought out samples of all of the many kinds of sausages that he had prepared in his home kitchen. The proprietor insisted that I take some of a particular sort of candy with me after I remarked on how unusual it was and said that I’d never experienced anything else quite like it before.
Once again, this was a really kind act, and it shows how much pleasure the proprietors have in the job that they do. It was a representation of how genuine and close to the community this specific stop on the trip was.
The ham store was our next stop after we left the butcher.
During my walking food tour of Madrid, I got the opportunity to learn quite a bit about ham, but this time I also received instruction on how to properly carve a leg of cured pig!
I had underestimated how difficult it would be to cut the meat into the almost paper-thin slices I was used to eating. We were fortunate that an employee ultimately took control of the situation and produced us a dish to try, which he accompanied with cava, a local sparkling wine that is comparable to champagne.
I have to confess that this was the very first time that I had ever had ham and champagne together, but I have to say that it is a fantastic pairing!
After finishing breakfast, we headed back into the heart of the city to have lunch at a cozy eatery.
The first course was a mushroom croquette that was earthy and deep, served with a full-bodied local red wine.
Next, a fantastic homemade duck ravioli–
Then last but not least, the main dish, which was a sirloin steak that had been grilled to perfection and was placed on roasted apples. And of course, a few more glasses of wine.
I’ve never had apples served with a steak before, but the taste combination was outstanding, particularly when paired with the wine.
We decided to extend the trip by two more locations rather than ordering dessert at the restaurant where we were eating.
The first stop was a store that sold traditional sweets from the area, and while we were there, we also tried some local digestives.
Two of these were more sweeter than I would have liked, but the one with nuts was delicious. It was not extremely sweet, but had a fruitier and drier flavor profile thanks to the almonds.
And last but not least, we finished off the day with some handcrafted gelato.
One of the creators of El Celler de Can Roca, the world-famous restaurant that has been crowned the finest restaurant in the world on two separate occasions, also founded this gelato business. There is a need that reservations be made almost a year in advance, and it was said that Julia Roberts had flown in particularly to eat at the restaurant the week before I arrived in town.
I had a sneaking suspicion that if the restaurant built a gelato store, it would had to be incredible, and I was right.
In addition to the traditional flavors of chocolate and vanilla, they provided other alternatives, such as baked apple and a combination that sounded intriguing but was really made of pumpkin and carrots.
You are also able to personalize your order and pick the toppings that go on it, including everything from hand-spun cotton candy to fresh fruit.
After spending the day in one of my new favorite places in Spain, I decided that the best way to round off the adventure with something sweet would be to make a delectable combination of fruit gelato and fresh fruit.
Which dish looked best to you? Would you love to take part in a walking food tour of Girona? Let me know in the comments section below!
Practical Information: If you want to learn about the history of the city while sampling some of the most delicious delicacies that are prepared locally, this trip is a fantastic choice for you to consider. Visit the website of Girona Food Tours at this link in order to make reservations for your own excursion.
Disclaimer: I would like to express my gratitude to Girona Food Tours for having me participate in this trip as their guest. As usual, each and every viewpoint is all mine.