Costa Brava Day Two: Beautiful Cadaques and a Down Home Meal at Casa Anita
For my second day on the Costa Brava, I decided to go to Cadaques on the recommendation of one of my best friends and fellow world traveler. He raved about a little restaurant called Casa Anita and recommended the Rocamar Hotel, so I decided to follow his lead and I'm thankful I did.
It took about an hour and 45 minutes from Aigua Blava to Cadaques. You can't simply drive up the coast, you have to go inland and then cut back east through the town of Roses and then drive along windy mountain roads through a nature reserve into the beachfront town of Cadaques. It was a beautiful day, so driving was blast. My trusty Mini Cooper handled the hairpin turns as if she was driving on rails!
Once I got into town, I figured I'd see signs for the Rocamar. I headed to the center of town, but didn't see anything, so I ended up driving aimlessly through the town. I found myself at one point driving on a tiny road along the water with no rails and lots of pedestrians. I started to panic a little bit thinking I was on a pedestrian-only road, but I couldn't turn back. Majorly embarrassed in my bright red convertible (can there be a bigger I'm a Tourist sign on my back?) I ended up finding the way to the hotel through tiny backstreets.
The hotel is on a cliff overlooking the town and the premises were striking at first glance. I made my way to check-in and requested a sea-view room - to which I was told I'd need to pay 39 euros more - fine. My hotels.com reservation was pre-paid (about $190 for the night), so I'd need to pay it upon check-out. I'm glad I upgraded, because the room had fantastic views and a nice balcony.
I made my way down several flights of stairs to the pool and upon entering, I was told I had to get towels from the front desk. In a huff, I went all the way back to the front desk and was told the hotel was out of towels. Seriously? There was no effort to help get one, I was summarily brushed off. That annoyed me, so I ended up using bath towels, but it was a 20 minute waste of my time I wish I had avoided being told the situation at check-in.
The pool area was nice, but I decided to spend my afternoon on the water. It was a rocky beach, but I found a nice nook on a flat rock outcrop, that perfectly fit me - it was like a natural rock bed. I did make it into the water, but it was really mossy and rocky, so I spent most of the time just sunning on the rocks and marveling at the bevy of completely nude sunbathers. In America, these people would be arrested! Naturally, I had no problem with the situation.
After soaking up my fair share of UV, I headed inside and got ready for dinner. Since I was only one person, I figured I'd have no issue getting seated at Casa Anita, which is a pretty popular, old-school restaurant in the center of town. Walking into the town at sunset was a photographer's dream. I'm by no means an advanced (or even intermediate) photographer, but the lighting and natural beauty of the town made taking pictures so easy.
I got to Casa Anita around 9:45pm and immediately got a seat at a shared table with two friendly couples: one from NYC and one from Norway.
The service was great- I wasn't given a menu, but was given some options- fish, beef, chicken, shellfish, etc. I ordered a salad with cheese and the fish with a couple "gambas" (prawn) on the side. I also ordered red wine and he brought over a slightly chilled bottle of Cabernet and placed it in front of me for me to drink at my own will. I loved the place already!
It was a friendly and low-key atmosphere focused around the simple, but delicious food. The salad was excellent - with smooth cheese and white asparagus.
The fish was also good, but I personally don't love bone-in fish. I know its the freshest way to prepare it, but I still inevitable ended up with bones in my mouth. The seasoning was simple and focused around the freshness of the fish. As for the gambas, I wasn't the biggest fan. I found it to be a little bit difficult to get the shell off and upon the urging of my friends, I tried "sucking the brains out of the head" since that's supposed to be the most delicious part. It was indeed savory, but not my favorite.
For dessert I went with the coffee ice cream with hot chocolate, which was divine and a great way to end the meal.
Overall, Cadaques is a charming town and Casa Anita is a quintessential way to indulge in the simplicity of the cuisine. I remember my friend telling me, "I could spend a week in Cadaques" and I couldn't agree more.
To be continued!