Can Xapa -chocolate making at it's finest
Can Xapa is a very well kept secret since it is well hidden in the old part of Bordils, a town that most people pass through on their way from Girona to the Costa Brava without even noticing. If you do venture into the old part of town however there are several surprises in store, one of which is the beautiful church and the other which is Can Xapa. The pastry and chocolate making here has been passed down through the generations to the current owners Esteve Fabregas and his wife but there is an issue of what will happen when they retire since they have no children and it does require many years aprenticeship. I was given a tour around the medieval fortified farmhouse which has been the shop and workplace for hundreds of years, all beautifully restored with old materials but not easy to combine the modern equipment needed with low ceilings and narrow corridors. The day I visited they were preparing one of the standard ingredients in many of their famous recipes-roasted almonds covered in caramel and sugar. This base configuration will turn into slabs of dark chocolate, individual decorated chocolates, catanies and other delicacies. The catanies are sugar coated almonds which are then rolled in cacao powder and are very typical in Catalonia and given as a gift. The process is to use local almonds, which have more oil and hence flavour, than foreign varieties and roast them in the oven. Meanwhile it is time to get the caramel prepared in the special heated bowl into which the roasted almonds are added. Once thoroughly mixed the sticky almonds are poured onto a bed of sugar and mixed so that the sugar granules stick to the caramel and this means that we now have individual almonds covered in sugar which can be handled easily. The next process depends on what the ultimate product will be but in the case of catanies each sugar coated almond is further rolled in cacao powder to take on the traditional colour. It is a wonderful place to wander around admiring the cakes, chocolates of many types as well as the savoury dishes they also prepare for taking away. So, the next time you pass through Bordils, make a short detour and you will not be sorry!
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