Tales of Table and Bed
The Fonda Europa in Granollers is the oldest hotel establishment in the country. The Parellada family set up on the old road to France where it passed through Granollers in 1771. Since then, over time, it has been distilling the essence of its own style in the world of hospitality.
Escaping the vines, a discovery
It all began when Cecília, the Parellada widow, a farmer from Palou who was utterly ruined by a run of bad harvests, decided to take everything she owned – two barrels of wine – and settle in Granollers. There she set up a stall to serve her wine. The farmer’s excitement at this multiplying miracle of selling wine by pouring it into glasses is both inspiring and prosaic. Without knowing it she had laid the foundations of Fonda Europa. The people of Granollers filled the place. The glasses of wine on the counter came accompanied by platillos of offal. The mistress had a way with tripe. Soon, under the name Cala Sila, this humble tavern became popular. The warm welcome, the touch of refinement in the dishes and the abundance and quality of the local produce led to demand for lodging for people passing through, above all travellers drawn by the food at Cala Sila.
Fonda or Hostel
This is how the first fondes (inns) were set up in Catalonia, essentially as eating houses that also had beds, as distinct from hostels, which were establishments that primarily provided lodging.
More than 7 generations
Bonaventura Parellada, the Sila heir, married the pubilla (first-born daughter) of Can Fidel, Margarita Vinyamata. The fusion of these two hotelier families led to the move to Can Fidel, otherwise known as Hostal del Vallès, and in 1910 the establishment’s growth also led the name to grow, which, after Vallès, went on to be called Espanya, before finally ending up as Fonda Europa.
The son of this marriage, Isidre Parellada Vinyamata, became the first famous cook in the family line. Among others, his best-known contribution was the Paella Parellada, which his son Paco later popularised at the 7 Portes restaurant in Barcelona in 1942.
Yearning for the Vine
In homage to his predecessors, the grandson of Paco of the Fonda returned to the Born area of Barcelona in 1983 with Senyor Parellada and to this urban fonda on Argenteria Street he added the Banys Orientals, a great small hotel for people of the world. At the same time he planted a vine in front of Santa Maria del Mar church, La Vinya del Senyor, a small wine tavern like a vestry, where the most damnable treasures that can be tasted in glasses are kept beneath the counter.
A light that never goes out
Every day we light our ovens thanks to your warmth. Thus we cook with the pleasure of showing together that the world, when well-fed, is a much better place. In this spirit, this year we are celebrating 245 years serving the country.
"Hotel Europa goes way back, as far as 1714, when it was perhaps the only fortunate thing to happen in an especially bad year for Catalonia. In 1877, comes the meeting between the Hotel Europa and a family of restauranteurs called to play their part in the restaurant history of Granollers. The Hostal de la Sila in carrer Barcelona, a former Royal Road. In 1848, Buenaventura Parellada is forced by the diversion of the road to close the Hostal de la Sila and he opens Fonda España. As with royal dynasties, the marriage between Buenaventura Parellada and Margarita Viñamata, the pubilla (first-born daughter) of the Hotel Europa brought about the fusion of two kingdoms and, as the Spanish saying goes, they lived happily ever after “y comieron perdices” (“and ate partridges”), in this case accompanied by farcellets de col (stuffed cabbage leaves).
Even back then, the Parellada-Viñamata restaurants turned out solid, honest Catalan cuisine that enthused the stallholders on market day and the legend of the Fonda Europa, as it was always popularly known, spread by word of mouth across the whole of Catalonia. But Don Buenaventura was preparing for the future and sent his son Isidro to see what was cooking on the stoves of Barcelona under the wing of the great chef, Blancher, at the French restaurant, Can Justin. And when Blancher was named head chef of the Royal Palace in Madrid, he took Isidro Parellada as his sous chef. Isidro went on to be considered one of Spain’s finest cooks and when he had finished educating the palates of the Bourbons, he returned to Barcelona and founded now historic restaurants like Café de las Delicias, the Principal Palace and Restaurante del Liceo. Like a salmon, Isidro returned to the Granollers of his birth to die there, but not before giving new impetus to Fonda de España and Hotel de Europa, which still belonged to him.
The dynasty did not end there. In 1912, Isidro handed the reins of the Europa over to his son Francisco, in whose hands it achieved fame beyond Catalonia, from its position as top regional restaurant in the principality. Parellada consolidated a restaurant empire through the acquisition in Barcelona of the restaurant at the Hotel Ruzafa and 7 Portes, which came to be considered a leading restaurant in times of stiff competition.
From 1947 to 1988, Fonda Europa continued holding on to its status of great regional restaurant in the hands of Francisco Perellada Novellas until, a few years ago, his son Ramon Parellada, without doubt one of the most interesting restauranteurs of the new generation, took it on. Ramon Parellada took responsibility for this centuries-old legacy following the experience of his outstanding success in charge of Senyor Parellada in Barcelona's carrer Argenteria, in a premises that had been occupied and deserted without notable successes until Ramon made it a great value restaurant, and in this sense it is perhaps the most well-balanced restaurant in Barcelona in terms of quality/price ratio. It has shown that this balance can be achieved without forsaking imagination and even a level of research cooking, somewhere between fantasy and personal homage. Ramon Parellada has adapted the traditional Fonda Europa to modernity without losing flavour, and I don't mean the flavour given by the atmosphere, which is preserved in its evocative rooms, but a much more fundamental flavour in an old restaurant, where the memory of its old dishes deserves to be preserved and handed down to the new generations.
If you're passing through Granollers, don't forget to eat at Europa.”
Date at Europa
Manuel Vázquez Montalbán