[Girona, Spain] There used to be a personal inkling within me, that as a food lover/blogger who keeps writing about “Best Restaurants”, I need to at least try what is widely recognized as “Best Restaurant In The World”. Does it even sound crazy? (Read: World’s 100 Best Restaurants 2015)
It was a dream. It was an ambition. It was a challenge. It was a hope.
My trip would have been to Noma in Copenhagen but my heart (or was it God?) told me Spanish food. So I made my restaurant reservation 9 months in advance, bought my air and train tickets to Girona, at Catalonia Spain. And then El Celler de Can Roca won The World’s Best Restaurant in 2013 and 2015!
It felt ecstatic, as though I had strike jackpot.
My journey to El Celler de Can Roca began. While Girona is about an hour’s train ride from Barcelona, I took the opportunity to do a Barcelona – Valencia – Granada – Seville – Madrid – Girona itinerary, and every part of Spain is a culinary adventure. 3 days in Girona, there was no bad food there.
El Celler de Can Roca was founded by the Roca brothers – the eldest Joan Roca the head chef, Josep Roca the sommelier, and youngest brother Jordi Roca the dessert chef. Their connection as a family simply shines through their presentation.
Walking in the top restaurant in the world was indeed a dream come true. I didn’t know what to expect. When the amuse-bouche came wrapped in a mysterious ‘lantern’, I knew I was in for a joy ride.
Called “Around the World”, the service staff unwrapped a black paper globe like a Christmas gift by untying a ribbon, revealing an wooden holder with five sticks of small bites – representing Mexico, Peru, Korea, Lebanon and Morocco.
Be careful when you are consuming ‘Peru’, it is a white ball an explosive ball of ceviche broth. If you get Thailand, it is frozen spiced fish stock coated in cocoa butter. You know what you are getting into: the food here is out of this world.
The next appetizer was caramelised olives which were hooked on a bonsai tree. So you pluck and eat from the plant. Suddenly eating a meal here felt so exciting yet surreal.
These are some of the dishes from the “Feast Menu”
Vegetable stock with sprouts, flowers, leaves and fruits
Fig Leaf, a combination of different types of figs in one – fig lead cheese, fig leaf terrine, fig ice cream, grilled fig and natural fig.
Pickled mackerel and mullet roe
Salad of sea anemone, razor-clam, royal cucumber and seaweed in escabeche
Charcoal-grilled king prawn, head juice with seaweeds, seawater and sponge cake of pankton
Charcoal-grilled lamb breast fillet and sweetbreads with eggplant, coffee and liquorice.
Every single dish was inventive, fun, exciting, unexpected, imaginative, yet all in a harmonious ensemble. There were so many times where I put something in my mouth, closed my eyes and ended up thinking “Wow, this is the best xxx (insert food) I ever eaten in my life.”
Another stand-out dish was one based on perfume, where this Chai cream with blood orange, vanilla, mango and roses smelled like Shalimar by Guerlain fragrance. Yes, they sold the perfume in bottles too.
A meal at the 45-seater El Celler de Can Roca involves all your senses – from the most obvious sight and taste, to smell and touch.
The magical ride doesn’t end there. The petits fours was served in… a Willy Wonka inspired retro candy-trolley designed by Jordi Roca. Since when has a meal been so enjoyable? (Reminds me of Narisawa’s.)
I been to a few 3 star Michelin restaurants, but none has the level of quality and (can I use the word) fun. The Roca brothers are indeed culinary geniuses.
Total number of mains: 14 (excludes appetisers and desserts). Price: 190 Euros (SGD$331, USD$261), with matching wines 90 Euros extra (SGD$ 157, USD$123).
Waitlist: 11 months. Satisfaction level: Unparalleled
El Celler de Can Roca. Best restaurant meal of my life, nothing else comes close.
Other travel tips: Girona is a beautiful quiet town, probably more populated now due to the fame of this restaurant. Excellent bakeries and restaurants all around, and do pay a visit to Jordi Roca’s ice cream shop Rocambolesc.
El Celler de Can Roca
48 Can Sunyer, Girona 17007 Tel: +34 972 222 157
www.cellercanroca.com Email: email@example.com