12 Sep Les Cols Restaurant in Olot: paradise in Girona
Where do I start with Les Cols? First, the name of this two Michelin-starred restaurant in the foothills of the Girona Pyrenees translates from Catalan as the ‘cabbage heads’.
For me, Les Cols is paradise. It blends the natural world of trees and birds, with open skies, award-winning design, aesthetic beauty and, of course, a world-level gastronomic experience.
Housed in a 15th-century family masia, or country house, on the edge of the town of Olot, Les Cols is in the Garrotxa Volcanic Nature Park, en route to the ski slopes of the Catalan Pyrenees.
The masia has been renovated and extended, and the grounds are full of apple orchards and protected by mature oaks and acacia trees.
The produce comes from the restaurant’s own vegetable garden in the nearby Vall de Bianya, a remote, wooded valley set among the hills.
4 things about Fina Puigdevall
Les Cols is where Fina Puigdevall, the owner and chef at Les Cols was born. I took her picture in the Envelat, an outside marquee, a space bathed in light and designed to be like a wood with “trunks, branches, leaves and clearings”, writes RCR Arquitectes, whose founders went to school with Fina.
- Puigdevall translates from Catalan as ‘hill of the valley‘; exceedingly appropriate given that Fina, when not in the family masia, lives in Casa Horitzó, a striking, modern house in the Vall de Bianya, overlooking the restaurant’s vegetable garden and R&D centre.
- She speaks to apples. Not any old apple… apples whose varieties are (almost) as old and as local as the hills of the Garrotxa. I found this out from watching the beautiful short film on Les Cols by Spanish film director Isabel Coixet, a friend of Fina’s.
- Her grandmother went to school with Salvador Dalí, who was born in nearby Figueres (see my visit in 2015), home to the Dalí Theatre & Museum.
- My favourite quote from Fina is “I try to establish the relationship between each moment and the beauty, and to live intensely every minute”.
4 things about Les Cols
- Les Cols is a pleasant 45-minute drive from the city of Girona and its international airport.
- You can stay in one of the five pavilions at Les Cols Pavellons, each with a heated onsen, private bathroom and a comfortable futon, and all-glass walls that no one can see through. No TV. Pure contemplation, watching the sunlight – or the stars – shine through the trees.
- The symbol of Les Cols is buckwheat – the Garrotxa is the only place in Catalonia where buckwheat grows. In September, a carpet of white buckwheat flowers – humming with insects – spread across the field behind Fina’s house in the Vall de Bianya.
- The book Anima by Les Cols Restaurant is the best ‘food’ book I’ve ever held in my hands. The text is in Catalan, Spanish and English.
4 things about the menu
- The cuisine favours the “rural landscape and the seasonality“. I opted for the ‘Summer & Nature‘ Tasting Menu. There’s also the vegetarian ‘Garden & Henhouse’ Tasting Menu.
- The menu itself is pure poetry, while the experience is accompanied to music selected by a local music teacher and friend of Fina’s – I picked out the dulcet tones of the mediaeval music for which Catalonia is so famous.
- The dining room overlooks the orchard, where hens scratch, peck and strut – as calming as watching flowing water.
Les Cols in pictures
Wine pause at Les Cols
First I had a glass of Ekam by Castell d’Encus, at 1,000 metres in the Pyrenees. The wine is a Riesling with a touch of Albariño with noble rot, the fungi beloved by winemakers looking for more intense flavour.
I then went on to a glass of SantBru 2015, from the Monsant Denominació d’Origen, just south of its more famous neighbour, Priorat. A blend of Syrah, Cariñena and Garnacha Tinta.
Back to the menu
The finale at Les Cols
It was the perfect day. Life slowed down, allowing time to feel, savour, look and listen. I had wanted to travel to Girona to eat at Les Cols, and my experience outpaced my expectations.
The Tasting Menu at Les Cols is €95 including VAT and excluding wine pairings. UPDATE 2023: The Tasting Menu is now €165, but still worth every euro.
My visit was as a guest of the Tourist Board of the Costa Brava and the Girona Pyrenees. I was introduced to the tourist board by Mrs O Around The World. Thank you to everyone.