The World’s Best Restaurant has a 1 Yr Wait, “Dancing” Ice Cream
Josep is in charge of front of house and the wines, he is pictured in the center by his brothers Joan, 49 anni, the head chef, and Jordi, 35 anni, the patissier.
Their family restaurant, owned by their parents, is just around the corner, and all 3 were born and bred in the neighborhood, where they still live.
There’s no sign that the title, which followed the award of a 3rd Michelin Star in Y 2009 has gone to the heads of the brothers. They are shy and speak softly.
The restaurant is a beautiful uncluttered space. There’s a small garden, natural light is at the center of the room, which has wooden floors, large windows looking out onto a shaded street and small spotlights above the tables. It seats 50, and there are about 30 chefs working in the kitchen.
There are 2 menus, with reasonable prices for this level of gastronomy, EUR 140 (US$184) or EUR 175. Matching wines are EUR 55 or 85. The wine list is so large it arrives on a stand, is particularly good value.
Joan worked at El Bulli in Y 1989, which won the World’s Best Restaurant title 5 times. He and Ferran Adria are friends, and Adria’s influence can be seen in Joan’s food. But, be assures El Celler de Can Roca is not another El Bulli.
Chef Roca’s approach to avant-garde gastronomy is to couple his imagination with modern techniques to enhance Catalan gastronomy. His dishes build on expectations as much as they challenge them. He seeks to marry modernity with tradition.
A meal at El Celler de Can Roca may begin with 5 canapes representing Joan’s travels, including a ceviche broth for Peru; guacamole, tomato seed, tomato water and coriander for Mexico; and almond, rose, honey, saffron, ras el hanout spices, goat and yogurt for Morocco.
After that, candied olives stuffed with anchovy are served on a miniature olive tree, then crispy shrimp followed by zucchini omelet and vermouth candy, then Summer-Truffle bonbon and brioche. Finish these nibbles, and you are ready for the meal.
The highlights include a signature dish called Mandala: Slivers of Iberian suckling pig with the crispiest skin are at the center of a plate with artichokes, artichoke flowers, orange, lemon and beetroot. It’s colorful, light and delicate, each flavor distinct and yet part of a harmonious mix.
Razor clams come with 9 kinds of seaweed; grilled king prawn with seawater and a sponge cake of plankton; Amontillado-steamed langoustine with bisque veloute and Jerez caramel; lamb breast and sweetbreads with eggplant, coffee and licorice. Each dish is inventive and enjoyable.
Just when you think nothing can surprise you, the 1st of Jordi’s desserts shows up, ice cream with cocoa pulp, fried lychee and sherry-vinegar meringue. The flavor is complex but the most distinctive fact is that the ice cream moves like a slow motion disco ball above a lump of what looks like sourdough, powered by a motor somewhere underneath.
Those who have dined at El Bulli, and at Noma, which won the World’s 50 Best title for 3 straight years say that El Celler de Can Roca is a match for those 2 top establishments.
If you book now and you can look forward to one of the best meals of your life in late July 2014.
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