On Friday, half our crew stayed in Barcelona and I left for the Costa Brava with our producer, Shannon, our fixer-driver-interpeter, Anna, and our photographer, Mike. We drove up the coast, stopping to shoot in Olot, Gerona, a medieval town a few miles inland that boasts some rare attractions, including a thousand-year-old bridge with a working battlement and keep, and a thirteenth-century farmhouse restored into one of the most unique inns and restaurants in the world, Les Cols. Along the way, I grilled Shannon about all the celebrity awards shows she has produced—I am such a celeb geek sometimes. Here is the skinny: Besides producing many of the biggest awards shows, Shannon and Mike have also produced Wild On and Joan Rivers’ red-carpet preludes on E!, so they know from where they speak. So from my lips to God’s ears, Charlize and Cameron are sweethearts, Salma is a nightmare, and Brooke Burke is a hard-working and dedicated professional. Moving on . . . .
Now, I know that a farmhouse deep in the countryside is an unlikely location for a top-notch restaurant, but the Green Acres setting did not stop Fina Puigdevall from opening her restaurant outside Olot, in a thirteenth-century building that she inherited from her parents (her mom still lives on the second floor). As her reputation as a chef spread, Puigdevall wanted a place for her guests to stay overnight and she commissioned RCR Architects of Olot to preserve the ancient structure of the family house, build an extension to usher guests from farmyard to dining hall, remake the refectory, and craft a twenty-second-century dining room and interior that could lie in stark contrast to the rural surroundings. A thirty-meter-long steel table stretches the length of the space, with private dining alcoves set off of the main thruway, but everything is clad in gold sheet metal. The walls of the oblong room have bands of gold-lacquered steel extending from floor to ceiling; each band twists to form a loose spiral. Strips of light follow the angles where floor meets wall and wall meets ceiling. The effect is dazzling. And the food is outrageous, from the artisanal cheeses made by local fromagerias to the truffle risotto with rooster crests, Les Cols is one of the most exquisite restaurants in the world.
A rooster crest really is the zig-zag crown that sits on top of a rooster's head. They are braised, peeled, and then some of the crests are chopped and stirred into the risotto, while several others are napped with a chicken glace and perched atop the finished dish. If you love chicken feet, imagine all the gelatinous delight of those morsels multiplied by a factor of 100. And with only one crest worth eating out of every ten roosters, well, you can imagine the appeal in eating a treat in Nina’s kitchen that very few diners ever get to hear about, let alone eat.
After lunch we piled into the van and headed off to Rosas, a seaside village about ninety minutes away, to meet Ferran Adria at El Bulli.