Elderflower liqueur

Interview with Chef Iolanda Bustos

Today is my last day on the Costa Brava blogger trip with Charming Villas Catalonia. I can’t believe how fast time has passed!

After spending three days in Cadaques, we arrived in Sant Mori yesterday and are staying at an 11th-century castle that has stunning views of the surrounding region.

Sant Mori is very close to the city of Girona, where we had lunch earlier today. We ate at La Calendula, a restaurant run by Iolanda Bustos (the chef) and specialized in dishes made with edible flowers and foraged herbs.

I asked Iolanda a few questions about her and her work. Here are her answers, as well as pictures of the veggie dishes I ordered from the menu she prepared for us today.

Marigold flower tempura

Marigold flower tempura

Where are you originally from?
I am from Baix Empordà, Catalonia, but my parents are from Andalusia.

When did you open your restaurant?
Four years ago.

White asparagus salad with an egg-free flower mayonnaise

White asparagus salad with an egg-free flower mayonnaise

What do you love most about this region?
I love its diverse landscape. Beaches, mountains, rivers, meadows, etc. give me a great variety of wild ingredients. Nature is the most important supplier I have and I need her for my botanic cooking.

In which other countries would you like to open a restaurant?
Although I never think about it, I know for sure that I would only open another restaurant in a country that cares about ecological and sustainability issues.

Mint risotto with fresh beans

Mint risotto with fresh beans

What types of dishes do you most often cook?
My cuisine mirrors the diverse landscape of Catalonia. Meat and fish are like the fortress protecting the wild flowers and vegetables I pick up every day.

What is your most popular dish among clients?
All dishes prepared with wild borage. People are always amazed at how a harsh-looking plant can be used to make pretty-looking dishes.

What is your personal favorite dish?
Any dish with truffles and mushrooms takes me to the forest. I love that feeling.

Elderflower sorbet

Elderflower sorbet

Your most memorable meal at a restaurant?
I love the tasting menu of Ca la Maria in Llagostera. The chef, Martí, grows his own vegetables and also goes to the forest to pick up mushrooms. All the ingredients he cooks with are ecological.

What countries are on your food travel wish list?
Brazil, Peru, Thailand, Japan…

Iolanda Bustos, chef of La Calendula, Girona, Spain

Iolanda Bustos, chef of La Calendula, Girona, Spain

For more on La Calendula:

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Travel tip: To get to Costa Brava from Zurich, you can fly to Barcelona Airport. Vueling connects Zurich with Barcelona twice every day. Tickets are available from 55 euros and can be purchased on www.Vueling.com.