La Calendula Restaurant, Girona, Spain
I’ve admitted in the past I’m not much of a foodie – eating for me leans more towards necessity than indulgence (says the guy who ate a rat.) So during a recent blogger trip to Spain with Charming Villas Catalonia, when we were told we’d be going to visit a restaurant where every dish had a “floral component,” I was a bit nonplussed.
And a little confused. We’d be eating flowers?
I reckoned it was one of those new age-y places where vegans sat around in Birkenstocks, hand-holding, Man-bashing (capital M, not lowercase — there is a difference) and sipping seaweed extract while lamenting the plight of the panda. You know the type of place. I pictured something like this…(go to the 20 second mark of the video to see what I mean.)
The World of Edible Flowers
Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I may even have to reconsider my position on all this foodie business after all. La Calendula in Girona was much better than I ever imagined.
Calendula means “Marigold” and every item on the menu does indeed feature flowers in some form or another. Some of the flower additions act as garnish, but most are meant to enhance the flavour. Some even ARE the flavour, like the delicious “Gala di Flors” — a homemade flower-infused beer. But to be clear, the flowers are the theme here, not the main dish. I did not see one person being served a potted plant, nor anyone ordering carnations served on a bed of baby’s breath. (Although how cool would that be?)
Chef Iolanda Bustos does serve dishes made with edible flowers though, and herbs that she herself forages from the local forest.
We had the set lunch menu, where in addition to an appetizer and a drink, you get to choose from 3 starters, 3 mains, and 3 desserts. The appetizer was marigold tempura.
I went with the artichoke and Prawns ravioli with pesto flowers for the starter…
The ragged large Catalan pork sausage with wild mushrooms and truffle for the main…
And blackberries compote with white chocolate mousse and lemon herb for dessert. (Just look at that FOAM!)
So the verdict? While I thought that the flowers would overwhelm my (uncomplicated) taste buds, each dish had but a mere hint of floweriness (is that even a word?) to it. Everything was delicious. I did pick the petals out of the dessert though. No need to dress up a mousse in my books.
A meal like this costs 13 Euros, and considering a set meal at a local truck stop in Girona will set you back 10 Euros, the experience, atmosphere, and the quality of the food you’re getting are a stellar value to be sure.
To sum it up, I’ll leave you with these words —
“…the thing is perhaps is to eat flowers, and not to be afraid.” — e.e.cummings