Like many true foodies, we have developed a little bit of a fascination with chefs. Eric is starting to collect chefs as friends. I think it is in part because we love to eat, but also because there is something a little magical that occurs in a proper kitchen, when a meal is being prepared. As Eric toured Costa Brava collecting chef friends, he met Chef Marc from El Clos Del Mussols, the restaurant associated with Hotel Tamariu.
Touring the Kitchen at Hotel Tamariu
We first met Chef Marc at the traditional Catalan seafood lunch we had during our extreme eating tour of Costa Brava. Chef Marc wore his black chef’s uniform for the lunch, as his kitchen did much of the prep work for the day. He was friendly, and smiling, but a little shy, I think perhaps because he was worried about his English.
As we finished the lunch, our blogger group went back to Hotel Tamariu, for nothing more than a bathroom pitstop before being ushered to our next step. We had already tried Chef Marc’s calamari earlier that day, which was some of the best we have ever tasted, and we told him so.
Perhaps after a little wine at lunch, he started to warm to us, and gave our group a tour of his kitchen, including a lesson on their seafood and fish, where it is from, what is local, how they prepare it. It was after the lunch rush, and well before the 8pm dinner hour, so the kitchen was ours.
Our guide, on a tight schedule, had to drag us reluctantly from the kitchen, and Chef Marc was disappointed. I think he liked to show off the kitchen, to talk with people who showed interest in his food.
Our Return to Hotel Tamariu
We returned to Tamariu a few days later, staying at a sea view apartment thanks to Corredor Mato, a Costa Brava real estate company. We walked into Hotel Tamariu and were greeted enthusiastically by Lluis, the hotel owner, who we also met at the fishermen’s lunch. We received big hugs, and they called Chef Marc from the kitchen, who was all smiles that we had returned. Even though we had only met Chef Marc and Lluis one time, we were treated like old friends, with what was turning out to be, classic Costa Brava hospitality.
After more or less skipping breakfast, as well as dinner the night before as we struggled finding where to eat and when to eat in Catalunya. We were famished. We sat down and ordered everything on the menu, or at least what seemed like everything: mussels, calamari, Iberico ham, caramelized goat cheese, and a giant portion of lobster rice.
Chef Marc sent over a patatas bravas as a welcome gift. We washed it all down with a bottle of cava, and promptly passed out in a happy little food coma as soon as we checked into our apartment.
Being Invited Into a Chef’s Home
Then, we became quick friends with Chef Marc. He invited us over to his house for his day off, to meet his wife, and have a Catalan dinner. We were thrilled to be invited to a Chef’s home, but Chef Marc quickly dispelled any notions of world class Catalan cuisine. That night, he was just Marc. He has a strict policy of no cooking when off duty. But, he was happy to pour the wine.
Which he did just fine. Our “dinner” lasted 7 hours, four bottles of wine, and a few gin and tonics. We met Marc’s wife, Anna, who acted as a translator when needed. Although Marc held his own just fine. I also attempted a little Spanish, which became easier as the night wore on and the bottles of wine multiplied.
We also met their two dogs through the back kitchen window, and in the corner of the small backyard was a goat, their pet goat. That was when things started to get interesting.
During the evening, conversations swirled between local foods, wineries we should visit, and how Marc was dying to go to Texas. He talked about quiet winters in Tamariu, when there are only about 40 people living in the town, when his restaurant is closed. He talked about Christmas, when they get a keg of Heineken for the kegerator, and a leg of jamon. They sit around for days eating ham and drinking beer by the fire. Eric wanted in, and I could see him wondering where we would be this coming Christmas.
And, after the fourth bottle of wine, we met their pet goat, Paca Cabra.
Hay Una Cabra en la Cocina
Yes, we walked into the kitchen, and there stood Marc, with Paca Cabra, which made me immediately exclaim “there’s a goat in the kitchen!.” We played with Paca for awhile, who is only a teenager, but built like a small tank.
We all continued with the refrain “hay una cabra en la cocina” – there is a goat in the kitchen!
Marc, a technophile who admits he doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter yelled out “hay una cabra en la cocina, hashtag” knowing I was tweeting out an adorable photo of Paca. I don’t think, though, Marc truly understands how to use a hashtag, which I don’t fault him for in the least. It just made the entire evening that much more memorable.
For the next few days, Eric and I repeated the phrase “there’s a goat in the kitchen” or, somewhat dejectedly, we would walk into our apartment kitchen and realize there was no goat in the kitchen. No hay una cabra en la cocina. We were disappointed.
Even if we hadn’t met Paca Cabra, it was great to meet Chef Marc and Anna, to be invited into the home of new friends.
We returned to Hotel Tamariu one more time for our last meal in Tamariu, with another round of Iberico ham along with mushroom croquettes and mushroom soup. We greeted Marc with “hay una cabra en la cocina? No no no…..”
We said a farewell to Marc, back in his restaurant kitchen, where, unfortunately, there was no goat.
Chef Marc invited us back to Tamariu in the future, to stay with him and Anna, anytime, and I think he truly meant it. Less than one week into our stay in Catalunya, and I was starting to understand, and love, the hospitality of the people. And the goats.
For more tips and stories on Spain, check out the With Husband In Tow Spain Food Travel Guide!