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Palamos Sunset in Costa Brava Spain

Experiencing Costa Brava’s Best Seafood in Palamos Spain

In Europe, Spain, Videos by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch15 Comments

Palamos Spain impressed us with its vibrant fishing culture and amazing seafood. See what it’s like to visit Palamos on the scenic Costa Brava coast.

Gambas Red Shrimp at the Palamos Fish Market - Experiencing Costa Brava's Best Seafood in Palamos Spain

As the glass shattered on the table, an uncomfortable hush fell over the room. Seconds felt like minutes until the room erupted with laughter. And like that, a potential low light became a major highlight of our day trip to Palamos on the coast of Spains Costa Brava.

Watch our video to see Daryl’s porron incident. You know you want to see it.

Palamos Video

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For those unfamiliar, porrons are traditional wine pitchers with long narrow spouts. A drinker lifts the porron to his face, drinking the stream of wine that flows directly from the vessel and into the mouth. Once common in Catalonia, the porron is now used more for fun and ceremony.

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Our Day Trip to Palamos

Fishing Boats in Palamos Spain

Just 46 minutes from Girona, coastal town Palamos feels further away with its active harbor and bustling seafood trade. Though relatively small in population and square footage, Palamos is a fishing powerhouse with some of the world’s best seafood.

We arrived in Palamos enthusiastic to learn about the port city in Costa Brava Spain and its vibrant fishing culture. Already familiar with Gamba de Palamos, the area’s intensely red prawns (pictured at the top), we were curious to learn about the city’s history beyond its famous shrimp. Most of all, we wanted to eat as much fresh seafood as possible. Luckily, our knowledgeable guide Maria Àngels Soler taught us about Palamos’ unique marine biology and fishing culture. We also ate well – very well indeed.

Interactive Cooking Demonstration at Espai del Peix

Cooking with Chef Ramon Baquera in Palamos Spain

Chef Ramon Baquera teaches Daryl the authentic way to make Catalan aioli.

Within moments of welcoming us to Palamos, Soler and assistant Olga Mias whisked us to Espai del Peix (i.e. Fish Space in English), a sunlit modern space with wide picture windows and a large, open kitchen. Though the space is usually utilized for large cooking workshops and shows, Soler confided that we were about to experience a private cooking demonstration with Chef Ramon Boquera.

Boquera, a skilled but unpretentious chef, greeted us with a warm smile and the 2foodtrippers tagline (We eat, we travel…) A fisherman for 25 years, Boquera honed his kitchen chops while cooking for Palamos’ daily fishing boat crews. Not a classically trained, but rather, a chef trained by real life, he put away his rod five years ago to join the culinary team at Espai del Peix.

Pan con Tomate in Palamos Spain

Pan con Tomate with Two Kinds of Anchovies.

Before we knew it, we exchanged our jackets for aprons and were cooking alongside the chef. Okay, Daryl was mostly cooking and Mindi was mostly shooting video. Regardless, it was great fun as we assisted Boquera in cooking classic Catalan dishes like Pan con Tomate (Tomato Bread) with Anchovies, Suquet de Peix (Fisherman Stew) with Bonita Tuna and Fideus Rossejats (Catalan Vermicelli – think rice-a-roni). Like at our Tauts a Taula cooking class in Girona, Daryl prepared an aioli (mortared garlic paste) and Mindi assembled the Pan con Tomate, reinforcing the preparation process of these two classics.

While we cooked, Boquera shared fishing stories and cooking tips. We learned that we should always use a lot of olive oil and that it’s key to listen for a smacking sound when making aioli. We also learned that cooking for a hungry crew on a moving boat is challenging work. All of this was well and good, but how was the food?

Lunch at Espai del Peix

Espai del Peix in Palamos Spain

Lunch is always more fun when we help cook the food. It’s even better with Empordà wine.

We assumed that our lunch at Espai del Peix would be good based on Palamos’ reputation as a seafood hub. However, everything that we ate exceeded our high expectations.

The Pan con Tomate burst with flavor thanks to the addition of two types of anchovies – one cured in vinegar for two hours and the other cured in salt for a full year. The Suquet de Peix, or Fisherman Stew, had deep flavors from its mortared, picata base, a blend of garlic, parsley, nuts, fried bread, and sweet paprika. Plus, Daryl’s handmade aioli added a zesty zing to the Fedeus Rossejats. We didn’t help bake the almond tart, but it provided a sweet end to the meal. And, of course, we drank glasses of local Empordà wine with gusto.

Tour of  Museu de la Pesca

Maria Àngels Soler in Palamos Spain

Maria Àngels Soler shared her Palamos passion with us as she skillfully guided us through the Museu de la Pesca. This museum provides a comprehensive overview of the Palamos fishing culture and history.

Eating is just half of the Palamos seafood story, which means that a visit to the Museu de la Pesca (i.e. Fish Museum in English) is a must. We started our visit with an educational yet entertaining video before we entered the main part of the museum. Soler provided a quick lesson on the 532 species indigenous to the area – fish and crustaceans like bluefish, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, monkfish, hake, rockfish, lobsters and the famed gambas (red shrimp). As we walked around the museum, we learned about Palamos’ rich fishing history from the perspective of the generations of fishermen (no women included!) who have fished the waters along with their families on shore who supported them. Soler was a perfect guide, and her insight into the region’s unique marine biology ecosystem was enlightening.

Fish Auction

Palamos Fish Auction in Palamos Spain

The fish auction is a modern event. Agents and brokers bid electronically on the fresh catch of the day.

A visit to Museu de la Pesca would be incomplete without experiencing the daily auction. Not a show for tourists, this auction is the mechanism for fishermen to sell their daily catch to brokers and agents representing retail customers in Costa Brava and throughout Spain. We found the auction to be fascinating both for the quality of the seafood offerings and its cutting auction system. At this auction, buyers bid electronically and silently. Though visitors aren’t typically allowed on the floor, they are privy to a front-row view of the auction through glass windows strategically placed above the auction room.

Fish Market

Palamos Fish Market in Palamos Spain

The Palamos fish market has some of the world’s best seafood for sale.

Did you catch that the auction is closed to consumers and tourists? No worries – the museum complex also includes a busy fish market with some of the day’s fresh catch for sale to retail customers. Open at 5:00 pm after the boats return to the dock, the quality and selection for sale at the market is outstanding. This market is open to the public. Whether you’re shopping for dinner or just taking photos, this market is a must visit in Palamos.

Sunset

Palamos Spain Sunset

Sunset falls on the Palamos harbor.

Our tour ended just in time for us to view a stunning sunset. Though we later heard that we could have witnessed an even better sunset from atop the local lighthouse, we were satisfied to watch night fall over the harbor from the dock. Surrounded by fishermen and their gear, it was an appropriate ending to our fish-tastic day.

Museu de la Pesca is located at Zona Portuària, Calle del Muelle, s/n, 17230 Palamós, Girona, Spain.
Espai del Peix is located at Muelle Pesquero, s/n, 17230 Palamós, Girona, Spain.


Hungry for more great food in Costa Brava? Check out our Girona Food Guide for great food and drink options in and around Girona Spain.


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We thank Patronat de Turisme Costa Brava Girona for supporting our visit to Costa Brava. We also thank the teams at Museu de la Pesca and  Espai del Peix for their generous hospitality.

Palamos Spain has a vibrant fishing culture and amazing seafood. See what it's like to visit Palamos on the scenic Costa Brava coast.

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Comments

  1. I loved that cooking demonstration with the chef, that was pretty cool. I had no idea of Costa Brava so thanks for putting it on my radar. I work on commercial fishing vessels as a biologist and it is neat to see the outside perspective especially in different countries!

    1. Author

      You would love Costa Brava and especially the fish museum in Palamos. The quality and quantity of marine life is amazing.

  2. Wow, it doesn’t get much fresher than fish from the fish market. It looks like you had some incredibly delicious looking meals. I need to add Costa Brava to my list!

  3. 532 species! That’s a whole lot of seafood! I’d be in heaven. As for Daryl’s incident, I hadn’t ever seen a porron before watching your video, but it seems a little tricky to drink wine from a stream you are pouring into your mouth. I don’t know why a glass shattering always elicits such a reaction, but even watching from my laptop I gasped and then laughed at the glass breaking. I guess some things are pretty universal. 😉

    1. Author

      Once Chef Ramon laughed, we knew it would be okay. We can laugh about it now. Let us know when/if you try a porron and how it goes. Hopefully you won’t break anything on your first try!

  4. The fisherman stew, the aioli and the almond tart for dessert sound like the perfect meal! I would love to do something like this. I’m not sure if I’d like drinking wine from the porron but I guess it would be fun to try it once!

    1. Author

      Drinking from a porron is fun – even if you have a fiasco. If the opportunity arises, you should give it a try.

  5. Fun memories. We did a long term home exchange and lived in Palamos in 2012. I do miss the seafood. We went to that fish market regularly, and of course visited the museum and watched the auction. However, we never had a cooking experience like yours. How wonderful.

    1. Author

      It must have been an amazing experience to live in Palamos like locals and cook all that great seafood in your own kitchen. That, and the natural beauty and friendly people.

  6. I love the idea of going to buy fish fresh like this. When we lived in Marennes in France we could literally go down to the waters edge and by oysters, mussels and prawns freshly caught from the fishermen. We also saw many locals going across to the local island each weekend, baskets in hand, to farm their own fresh clams. It was brilliant to watch and the food tasted so much better because of its freshness.

    1. Author

      Living in France like this is a dream for us. The seafood is surely some of the best in the world.

  7. This is really resourceful. A good read before going to Palamos — I really love seafood!

    1. Author

      Hopefully you’re visiting Palamos soon. It’s such an awesome destination.

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