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The fairy godmother of the Catalan forest

Fina Puigdevall

Fina transformed a ruined 13th century Catalan farmhouse (masía) into one of the country's most fascinating restaurants, Les Cols. It's rare to find such a powerful communion or close bond between cuisine, architecture, design and nature as the one in this restaurant.

 

The region of La Garrotxa in the interior of Girona (Catalonia) amazes visitors with its lush volcanic landscapes carpeted in green hues. Very close to the town of Olot and in a naturally sheltered setting, Les Cols restaurant is a haven of fine food where chef Fina Puigdevall has been giving free rein to her creative flair in the kitchen since 1990. 

 

Fina transformed a ruined 13th century Catalan farmhouse (masía) into one of the country's most fascinating restaurants. It's rare to find such a powerful communion or close bond between cuisine, architecture, design and nature as the one in this restaurant. A dining room, occupied by a single long table. Other smaller or private dining rooms lead off this main area. While diners enjoy Puigdevall's cooking, they can absorb the sights and sounds of the luxuriant vegetation growing around the building. In 2013, Fina Puigdevall opened a banqueting extension to Les Cols with an equally striking design, featuring volcanic stone floors, transparent ceilings and furnished with perspex tables and chairs. The entire outdoor area is visible, closer than you might think from the inside, as you watch the hens pecking undistrubed by your presence on the other side of the clear wall.

 

The use of local materials such as wood and stone in the building design embodies the link that Fina wanted to create between her cuisine and the region where she lives, works and strives to delight customers who come to Les Cols. Her gourmet menu sticks scrupulously to the principles of using only raw ingredients sourced from local suppliers or obtained from her own fields and farmyard.

 

Her culinary repertoire is packed with kilometer 0 food that comes from as close to home as possible, such as free-range duck and chicken, potatoes, black truffle, vegetables, wild mushrooms, turnips, snails, trout, sausages, pork products, honey and so on. Fina is a fan, you could almost say the savior, of a crop traditionally grown in the local area and which, after the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), was no longer farmed and practically disappeared. The crop is buckwheat, known in Catalan as "farjol". At Les Cols, they use the grain-like seeds to make a greyish-colored flour (looking nothing like refined white flour) that Fina uses wisely to make blinis, sponges, cookies and thin crispy sheets for highly creative dishes.

 

Another example of her commitment to the local countryside can be found, as before, in her menu, which has hardly any fish, despite the fact that the Mediterranean Sea is relatively close, less than 50 kilometers away. At Les Cols they only serve trout fished from nearby rivers and streams, and preserved or salted fish from a local preserver who uses artisan methods. For cheese-lovers, Fina has a trolley with thirty Catalan artisan cheeses, served with homemade jams made on the premises from her grandmother's recipe.

 

If you're looking for something a little less formal than dinner at Les Cols, how about a picnic on the banks of the Fluvià river, the restaurant's closest neighbor? Baby leaf salad, vegetable terrine, marinated chicken, artisan cured sausage, fruit, water from a nearby spring, wine from the Empordà region and traditional rustic bread. All spread out on an authentic picnic blanket. The same blanket that they offer you at the end of your dinner in the restaurant in case you fancy enjoying a gin & tonic as you recline in a lounger gazing at the open-air spectacle of the countless stars in the sky above you...

 

 

More proyects in 2015. Fina Puigdevall presented in March 2015 some new proyects for her culinary career. In 2015 she became gastronomic advisor for Mas Torrent boutique hotel in Pals, Girona (Catalonia). She wants to duplicate her culinary philosophy developed at Les Cols (kilometer 0 products, that come from as close to home as possible).

 

 

 

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