El Celler de Can Roca ***, Girona
3 Michelin Star
San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant : #2 (2011) , #4 (2010), #5 (2009) …
(In 2009, we had the opportunity to taste the dishes of this highly-acclaimed restaurant in Girona, through the cooking of Jordi Roca who’s actually the pastry chef but representing his brothers at the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. Our memories of the meal were excellent , accounting for some of the ‘jet-lag’ syndrome guest-chefs usually have, we had several memorable dishes including one of the best desserts we’ve ever had – White, lactic, sheep, ripoll. (combination of sheep milk and guava with cotton candy))
Flash forward to 2011, a few weeks before it was awarded #2 in the San Pellegrino World’s Best 50 Restaurants Award 2011, we finally visited the actual place in Girona, an old-town approx 1 hour drive from Barcelona. It was one of the most highly anticipated meals of the trip and quite unfortunately we left slightly , just slightly, disappointed. Not because it wasn’t great, because it undoubtedly WAS ; we just thought it COULD be the best restaurant in the world, and it sadly wasn’t. Still, this was one of the most incredible meals we’ve ever had, climaxed with the greatest dessert ‘performance’ by Jordi Roca.
Continuing with superlatives, this could well be the coolest restaurants (design-wise) we’ve ever been. Stepping into the triangular-compound, i bet each and everyone had the same thought – ” DAMN, i wished i own this place!” The pictures here just don’t do it justice (sorry!) but each table has its own ‘space’ , not far but separate from adjacent tables, which is even so appropriate considering one of the essence of the restaurant is the ‘surprise’ factor. More often than not, restaurants try to ‘WOW’ you and yes you’re WOWED – not by the dish in front of you but by the one at the next table which you’ll be having next! It’s frustrating but just almost ‘inevitable’. Fortunately, not at El Celler de Can Roca.
The following pictures from the 15-course meal almost tell their own magical story – here’s some highlights:
The famous ‘olive tree’ which you literally pluck from a tree…
the oyster smoked by sea-water vapor (at the table)…
signature SOLE with 5 different Mediterranean sauces (dill, bergamot, orange, pine nut and olive) …
Juan Roca’s signature Beef-Tartar :
(yet another) signature Iberian Pork which, for us, was the most disappointing dish of the meal :
finally ending with a ‘grand dessert theatrical performance’ by the great Jordi Roca:
“Green Colourology’ – eucalyptus, shiso, green Chartreuse, lime, avocado
Calvin Klein ‘Eternity’ Perfume – Roca’s genius perfume-mimicking dessert …a sample of the real perfume is presented for comparison:
Back in Feb’11 , we were one of the first group of diners to be served the ‘MESSI’ dessert – a dessert inspired by chef’s favorite Barcelona Football Club and world’s greatest player – Lionel Messi. THis was , for the lack of a better word, a ‘crazy idea’ . Presented in a soccer-bowl, decorated with football turf accompanied by an ipod playing a ‘live commentary’ of a Messi goal in the background, we were instructed to ‘score’ by throwing the football (chocolate) into the ‘goal’ (the actual ‘goal-like’ dessert). Now, ‘crazy’ seems like an understatement!
Another Jordi Roca’s creative dessert is the CUBAN CIGAR ;
All in all, a truly magical experience from the start to the finish with just that occasional ‘mishit’ with some ‘weird-tasting’ (over-salty) savory courses.