A castle on top of a hill. Medieval defense towers standing amidst the narrow, winding streets. Bars on every corner proudly advertising mojitos on their chalkboard menus. This is Begur, Spain, a quiet medieval village of just 4,000 that explodes to a population of 40,000 come summertime.
In the 19th century, many of Begur’s residents left Spain for the Pearl of the Caribbean, otherwise known as Cuba. Upon returning to Begur, those emigrants whose businesses had prospered while in Cuba, built ostentatious colonial houses that still decorate the medieval streets today. Most of the colonial houses are privately owned, but I got a special visit to see the inside of one of these colonial homes peppered with Cuban flare. And if you’re in the market for a house in Begur, this one is up for sale for a cool three million dollars.
After our uber exclusive visit to the colonial home, we circled up the cobbled streets to the 11th century ruined castle on the hill. I was met with sweeping views stretching from the Aiguablava bay back to L’Estartit and the Medes Islands.
Onward bound our group went to the Aigua Blava Hotel, family owned and operated since 1934 in the bay of Aigua Blava, though the family are now third and fourth generation. Welcomed like we were family ourselves by director Esther Puig, our one-night stay began with a lesson on how to make Cuban mojitos.
A third generation employee of the hotel, Josep, who I like to refer to as the Magic Mojito Maker has been making mojitos since he was sixteen years old. With a recipe handed down through the generations from a family member that once emigrated to Cuba and then returned to Begur, these were indeed the best mojitos I’d ever had. They were so good, I had two: a traditional mojito and a strawberry mojito. Unlike grandma’s secret sauce or her killer chocolate chip cookie recipe kept under lock and key, Josep did share his mojito recipe with us. And now I pass it along to you.
Aigua Blava’s Cuban Mojito
Start by placing 2 teaspoons of brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of sugar into a highball glass. Add fresh lemon juice and freshly torn mint leaves. Use a pestle to crush it all together, releasing the mint oils. Fill the glass with crushed ice and then pour Havana Rum (imported straight from Cuba) over the ice. Top off the glass with soda water. Stir and garnish with mint leaves.
Not only did Aigua Blava make amazing mojitos, they were followed with six-course meal by Chef Lluís Ferresat, who has been with the hotel restaurant for fourteen years. Having had a few mojitos, I committed a cardinal sin of travel blogging. I forgot to take pictures of most of my food. But I can tell you that the meal was amazing! My favorite courses were the fresh fig (clearly I like figs since I also told you how incredible the figs with foie gras were at the castle party I attended) with the roasted banana lasagna with mini cut of duck liver, the lobster bisque, and the mojito ice cream that literally came served in a pineapple!
That night I cracked my beachfront patio door and drifted off listening to the waves lap against the shore. I could have spent days at this fabulous hotel on the bay, just enjoying the sandy beaches, clear blue water, and the warm hospitality of everyone at the Aigua Blava Hotel.
Know Before You Go
- The Fira d’Indians festival takes place in Begur the first weekend of September each year. Enjoy a market with Cuban products such as coffee, rum, cocoa, herbs and spices. Demonstrations of Cuban mojito making and how to appreciate Cuban cigars as well as chocolate tasting sweeten the three day long celebration.
- Double room with terrace at Aigua Blava Hotel runs from €182 – €273 per night depending on the season. The hotel is closed from November until March.
Thank you to the Costa Brava Girona Tourism Board and Hotel Aigua Blava for hosting me. As always, all opinions are entirely my own.