The Rafael catboat drops anchor in the bay of Tamariu and her captain pulls the Zodiac dinghy alongside to transfer her passengers to land.
As the dinghy speeds towards the shoreline, a gentle cove of white sand emerges, kissed by translucent turquoise waters and framed by weeping olive trees. I step out onto the sand and follow the stone path that climbs to the back of the beach until I emerge at a second cove. Completely enclosed by the cliffs, a small white beach narrows from the shoreline to a stone, white fishermen’s hut with wooden doors.
Inside the barrel-shaped interior, a gallery platform overlooks a long wooden trestle table which is set for lunch, its length dotted with bowls of fresh salad leaves, plates of anchovy fillets, six different types of sausages and the traditional vegetables of the Empordà region – cauliflower, aubergine and sweet peppers.
I’m pretty sure the setting and atmosphere are beginning to distort my senses, or perhaps it was the motion of the sea as the Rafael sailed out of Palamós along the beautiful coastline of Costa Brava, providing maritime vistas of secluded coves and Roman ruins while its captain regaled his guests with tales of piracy, conquest and the literary heritage of Palamós.
“That is where Truman Capote wrote his acclaimed In Cold Blood”, explained the captain, a finger pointing to a secluded villa perched above the rocky coastline. Whatever the cause, the food appears to still hold the Mediterranean sun, infused with the flavour of the wild herbs that carry on the breeze.
The sound of sizzling behind my back draws me from my plate and I turn to see two large pans of smoky Palamós prawns being sautéed over high flames by Chef Tony Izquierdo who is sprinkling them in oil and gently tossing them until the coats pale from blood red to sunset pink. Fished at depths of between 300 and 600 metres below sea level, the Palamós prawns feed on plankton-rich waters which give them a unique flavour and a high price tag.
I pull the head from a hot prawn and suck the contents into my mouth. A salty rush of the Mediterranean sweeps over my tongue and morphs into a dark meaty sweetness. Pulling the tough shell from the body, the meat has all the sweetness of the head but without the seawater accompaniment. I opt to eat only the bodies, instantly gaining friendship points from the diners around me who gorge on my discarded heads, which is not a sentence I ever thought I would hear myself say.
As the shell debris on my plate builds to embarrassing proportions, the dishes are cleared away. In an unexpected move, the diners who had shared my prawns take to the centre of the room where, it turns out, they are actually L’Empordanet Havaneres – a traditional folk group.
And there, in the middle of a fisherman’s hut, in the white sand cove of Cala dels Lliris, while the sun dances on the Mediterranean, beautiful voices soar to the accompaniment of acoustic guitars. They sing of their homeland and of their ancestors who left their loved ones to find their fortunes in the New World from which many would never return. As they sing, their voices carry through the open door and drift over the sand and olive trees.
Maybe it’s the wine, or the Palamós prawns, or the melodies that are causing the lump in my throat. Whatever it is, Tamariu has carved a place in my heart where it will forever remain.
Buzztrips was a guest of Visit Costa Brava during this trip
Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+