dimecres, 11 d’agost de 2010
Artículo "Cap de Creus" de Mayo de 2006
Day two romantic weekend getaway. Alas, the rain has caught up with us. Amazingly, it dampens my spirits none. I mean, really. How could I complain?
After our morning tour of Dalí’s house, Arlo and I follow our second dining recommendation from Nacho & Lorea. The selling description for this one? “It’s like a restaurant at the edge of the world.” Who needs more encouragement than that?
Despite desperate searching, the internet provided no address for the restaurant they spoke of – just a few vague and imprecise mentions that it did exist somewhere on the Cap de Creus. So we donned thicker socks and patted our road map affectionately. Cap de Creus is supposed to be spectacular anyway.
Situated at the most eastern point of mainland Spain where the Pyrenees meet the sea, Cap de Creus is a beautifully wild and jagged stretch of the Iberian peninsula. Designated as a nature reserve in 1998, it is the “largest uninhabited area in the Spanish Mediterranean, and Spain’s only reserve which includes both land and sea.” Its easternmost location means it catches the morning sun before any other place in the country, and also makes it prime placement for Catalonia’s second oldest lighthouse.
It is here, in the former administration building for the lighthouse, that British owner Chris Little has located his restaurant. Only the occasional hand-painted sign hints that you might be going in the right direction. Which is why when a decrepit building appeared in the distance atop a few craggily rock formations, I turned to Arlo excitedly and asked incredulously, “Wouldn’t that be cool if that’s where we were going?”
Ten minutes later, along the same lonely, unoccupied winding road, with the wind and sea fighting loudly for attention just outside the safety of our little car, we pulled up to the base of that building in the distance. And I nearly ran to the front door.
Despite the peeling and tattered façade of the Restaurant Cap de Creus, the space inside is beautiful. All brick and rock and wood beams, with plenty of windows allowing the lazy light of day to filter in, we were sat without wait, and a fresh bowl of olives placed on the table without asking.
Did you know that Arlo is positively retarded for olives? Any kind, any variety. He always has to try them. It doesn’t matter at what point in the meal – even after dessert. So now, at the clink of the olive bowl meeting the glazed wood of the table, Arlo has surpassed the restaurant at the edge of the world and is now teetering at the gates of heaven.
Now I know I can be prone to exaggeration. And I know how remarkably food-centric this blog has been. And I particularly hate to be redundant. But this meal? I’ll be damned – it was fucking terrific, too. With an emphasis on regional cuisine, their specialties are fresh fish and interestingly enough, Indian curries (a nod towards the owner’s origins). As a firm believer in ordering that which a restaurant is known for – because, well, duh, that’s what the restaurant is known for – one roasted fish and one chicken curry is exactly what we ordered. With a bottle of rosé. And a starter of pa amb tomàquet i anchoas (Catalonia’s ubiquitous bread with tomato dish, topped here with marinated anchovies). Everything was spot on. The meal, as always, enhanced by the inextricably intertwined experiences surrounding it.
I think the rain was on our side that day, working in our favor, probably having discouraged a lot of people from taking the drive; from occupying the terrace we had all to ourselves; from filling up the restaurant seats because they don’t take reservations. Restaurant Cap de Creus is easily the kind of place you could spend all day, perhaps even much of the night, especially if the outdoor fireplace is going.
The entire backside of the restaurant faces the water, surrounded by terraces perfectly blocked from the wind by rock formations on all sides. After eating we circled around taking advantage of the break in the rain, and we felt like we were in Ireland, in a version somehow even more beautiful if possible. We felt like we were standing at the end of the world, looking out onto a vastness difficult to comprehend, Nacho & Lorea’s selling description ringing true in our ears. I am convinced there has never been a better location for a building, let alone one in which to eat and drink the afternoon away.
I hear the owner sometimes rents out the rooms above the restaurant as self-catering apartments for visitors to stay in. Now I am convinced there isn’t a better place to stay.