There is no shortage of choice when it comes to dining out in the city of Girona. Like its famous big brother Barcelona, Girona prides itself on the produce and food history that the Catalan soil provides. The sprawling brutish Barcelona serves it to you no questions asked but like most pretty little sisters Girona is coy and won’t give up her best easily.
Like any place that draws people from afar many of Girona’s restaurants count on people coming and going in a hurry caring more for the days takings than growing a reputation. By chance however we turned down the right cobbled alley and past the right window. Inside was a glistening open kitchen framed by the highest quality Jamon which called us inside. The place was called Llevataps.
The selection was small on the daily lunch menu but it was a menu of purpose. The chef was sticking to local produce put together with a simplicity of flavour and flair in presentation. Just three courses and three choices for each course. This small menu forces the diner into the experience the chef wants them to have rather than leaving it to the customer to mix and match from a large menu.
The First Course
For me a salad with trumpet shaped local forest mushrooms and sharp goats cheese. These strong flavours were balanced with green leaves and an orange vinaigrette. Below the salad was a bed of creamy sweet potato mash. My wife/date/travel buddy/photographer had braised pork rib in chickpeas and chestnuts. Very simple in style with the pork meat the star of the dish. The chestnuts seemed almost more pork flavoured than the pork itself in this well balanced entree.
The Second Course
Michelle opted for a slow cooked veal cheek chopped in a single large cube which held its shape until pressed with a fork. The softest push peeled it open revealing tender slow cooked meat that fell apart on the plate and dissolved in the mouth. It sat on a smear of celery and radish mash with a drizzle of a herbal liquor reduction.
I had the duck breast cooked medium rare with a crispy edge and a subtle barbecue flavour. It was accompanied by warm chestnuts and crispy thin slices of parsnip and beetroot just marinated enough to give flavour but not reduce the crunch.
For dessert we shared a cup of fresh fruit in a ginger infused juice with a scoop of ‘pina colada’ sorbet. It was super refreshing and if you like pina colada (and/or getting caught in the rain) then this dish is for you. Then the second dessert a chocolate mousse drizzled with olive oil and sea salt. As each spoonful of the chocolate dissolved it revealed a chunk of salt in the mouth enhancing the flavour during each bite. Even on the walk home through the beautiful streets of Girona this taste lingered on.
Girona is one of the prettiest cities I have ever seen. It seems as if every wall was carved by a great craftsman and every streetscape designed with purpose by a brilliant landscape architect. It is only forty minutes by train from Barcelona so make sure you put the city and Llevataps on your “to do” list on your next Spanish getaway.
Words by Wade Ranson Food Photography by Michelle Ranson Street Photography by Wade and Michelle Ranson