LA BOCA DEL LLOPS
Our guide Marzena was amazing. At the end of our tour she not only recommended an amazing restaurant in the tiny village of Gratallops, La Boca del Llops, but she called and made reservations for us. When we arrived, it felt like a family homecoming.
Like so many places we ate, La Boca del Llops was al fresco dining the way you dream about it: on a terrace overlooking wine country just outside the restaurant and its companion hotel, one of the only hotels in town, Can Llops.
By now we’d already learned that many of the more authentic and culinary driven restaurants in Catalunya offer pre fixe menus. We love this—it helps us not get wrapped up in the experience that the restaurant has carefully created for us.
After a couple of weeks of “Barcelona water” (cava), we were ready for a full bottle of Priorat red wine. At the time we were still learning about Priorat’s prized grape, Cariñena; this Cal Batllet wine called 5 Partides was 100% Cariñena—rich, full of berries, and spice and worked so well with our meal!
And, Cal Batllet winery is in the very town we sat in—Gratallops!
And, we felt particularly connected to this wine—after all, it seemed like Patrick’s name there on the cork.
This dining experience along with evenings at Trossos demonstrated how the hot days in this region give way to cool breezy nights, thanks to the Mediterranean ocean just a short distance through the local surrounding hills.
The meal began with amuse-bouche: simple crostini, with a nest of pasta dressed lightly in a red sauce, with Kalamata olives and fresh thyme.
Our first course was a beautifully fresh salad composed with an aspic encased medley of salmon, shrimp, fresh corn, peas, boiled egg, and local herbs of thyme and fennel. It was surrounded by a medley of greens and a wonderful basil vinaigrette.
Footnote: Wild thyme and fennel grow everywhere in Priorat. They are two major herbs used often in the local cuisine. In a local vineyard Jake photographed them:
Pan cooked green beans on top of vine ripened tomatoes, finished with herbed aioli and blue cheese crumbles.
This was so satisfying. The beans were soft, but yielding a touch of remaining al dente, the aioli was delicate, and the blue cheese gave it a substantial kick to round it all out!
One: Confit of quail with round potato and romesco sauce with slaw-stuffed endive
Two: Classic lasagne with an amazing bechamel sauce
Sadly, Jake got so excited about his confit, he forgot to take any pics. But we captured the lasagne!
The lasagne was classic, no major culinary twists or deconstruction of the dish, just beautifully prepared layers of pasta, bolognese and bechamel… the way it’s supposed to be done.
Dessert was chocolate mousse with salted caramel. Again, oops, and slurp, empty bowls with traces of mousse don’t make the best pics for a blog post… sorry!
This meal was magical, the food was fresh, beautifully prepared, and the location was something out of a fairytale.
Climbing up those cobblestone streets gave us the workout we needed to burn the calories of the meal to boot!