Now ranked at number 1 by the World's 50 Best Restaurants 2015 (rising from number 2 in 2014), El Celler de Can Roca is Spain’s most lauded 3 Michelin-starred restaurant. Picking up the Catalan culinary baton from Ferran Adrià’s elBulli are the three Roca brothers: Joan (Head Chef), Josep (Sommelier) and Jordi (Pastry Chef). In their own words, the restaurant is ‘avant-garde, but still faithful to the memory of different generations of the family's ancestors dedicated to feeding people’ - and this evident from the moment you arrive.
To secure a coveted table at El Celler de Can Roca, you’ll need to book 11 months in advance – and so on the third time of trying, I finally managed to get a reservation (I actually found easier to get into the Fat Duck). I arranged a trip to Barcelona around the date of the reservation, and after a few days of eating my way through the city’s tapas (and doubling the weight of my suitcase with food and wine), it was time to catch the train to Girona.
The restaurant has an understated beauty, with the centrepiece being a tree-filled open air triangle. There were two tasting menus on offer – either the 7 course Classic menu or the 14 course Feast menu and we chose the latter with paired wines (it was unlikely we’d be here again, after all). The meal began with a series of amuse bouche – with ‘The World’ first up. Revealed from underneath a Chinese lantern style cover were 5 expressions of national dishes. From left to right – China: pickled vegetables with plum cream; Morocco: almond, rose, honey, saffron, ras el hanout, goat yoghurt; Turkey: tartlet of vine leaf with lentil purée, eggplant and spices, goat yoghurt and raw cucumber; Korea: panko fried bread, bacon with soy sauce, kimchi and sesame oil; Mexico: ‘burrito’ with mole poblano and guacamole. This dish really set the tone of the meal to come – lots of theatre, with a series of flavour explosions and surprises.