Cold, windy, wintery January days are not the ideal scenario that instils a desire to venture out and have a seaside lunch. But never underestimate a daughter’s persistence. So it was that we ventured out to Calella de Palafrugell in anticipation of finding suitable shelter and sustenance.
A perennial favourite of ours, this small chic Costa Brava town is a magnet for well healed summer visitors both foreign, Spanish and Catalan, eager for a quiet vacation. This is not the place for cheap eats and high rise hotels. Property here is in the price range that particularly attracts affluent weekend looking retreat Barcelonians.
These former fishing villages are booked solid summertime but out of season they become so quiet that it prompts a second look if you see anyone on the streets.
Open eateries are few and far between during the winter downtime but once we reached the picturesque stretch of seafront we noticed restaurant La Vela almost full.
At 2.30 pm this was the ideal striking time and an empty table caught our eye. Swift action is the name of the game as other passers-by are your competition. We’re in and our two dogs are not a problem. We sat in their enclosed outdoor terrace, their indoor areas had the patio heaters- lucky them.
Looking around the terrace the seating room is quite tight so I guess there is no room for them, shame as it could do with it being a few degrees warmer. No real problem as I’m not taking my jacket off. Overhead heaters could be a solution, just saying.
On the plus side their menu is not several pages long, so we chose a few sharing plates and I ordered a staple favourite, a goats cheese salad. Glancing around surreptitiously quite a few fellow diners were eating the seafood rice dish, at 18€ each. Served in a deep bowl, hot and steamy in a rich sauce, a comforting foil to today’s ambient temperature. I immediately get buyers remorse.
It’s so appealing that two of our party decided to plump for this same dish. It appears to be a clear case of comfort food versus my healthier salad option. I quickly reassure myself that my body is better rewarded with leafy greens.
Having consumed our chosen dishes the burning question of desserts is now upon us. I rarely see anything different from the usual repertoire of crema catalana, lemon sorbet, chocolate coulant or my favourite, cheesecake. I´m pretty sure most dessert options are bought in, rarely homemade creations.
This time there’s bunyols de xocolate (sweet dough balls filled with chocolate then fried) and recuit de drap amb mel (an artisanal dessert usually made with goats cheese,reminiscent of English cottage cheese, plus honey. I decline but the other three are swayed.
It almost feels like they’re an afterthought, and judging by the prices sometimes the mark-up must be good. We order warming coffees before venturing out back into biting January winds. The idea of a post-lunch seaside stroll is quickly forgotten.
Verdict. A safe port in a storm, a welcome wintery shelter that would no doubt be better enjoyed in sunnier times. Shame it doesn’t have more fish or seafood based dishes like a comforting fish stew.
Final bill for 4, which included 2 bottles of house white wine (16€ ea.) was 156€