July 27, 2012

Behind the scenes of El Celler de Can Roca

The Roca brothers' passion for cooking was initially kindled in Can Roca, the establishment their parents manage in Taialà, a neighbourhood lying on the outskirts of Girona.  It is where they grew up, amid the hubbub of dishes, pots and pans and clients. The bar was their living room, their playground, where they did their homework, watched television... whence the aroma of the stews generously, simply and honestly prepared by their mother, wafted in.

If the best thing was tasting the scrumptious food at the El Celler de Can Roca, the second best thing was being able to take a look behind the scenes: the kitchen. Where dishes are concocted and desserts are presented like gems. Where the three brothers Juan, Josep and Jordi work in a creative chaos while welcoming visitors with a handshake.

The first stop: the patio

Slowly moving on: the entrance

Internal Patio conveying a contemporary atmosphere

View from the lady's room (just in case you were wondering)

Entering into the holy halls - the kitchen

A cook's most important accessory

Perfectly cleaned kitchen

The Roca's chemistry laboratory

My favourite item: Roca's inspiration board

It might be in Catalan but "Gol de Messi" is inspiration in any language

The end result of the inspiration board: a phenomenal menu

The Roca brothers discussing their next menu

An unforgettable experience

July 24, 2012

Dining delight at El Celler de Can Roca

When a friend invites you to dinner you accept with pleasure ..... even if it means driving 700 km across the country .... right? Of course, what a question? So, when my dear friend La Mami Cubana told me she had reserved a table in the world's second best restaurant (according to The World's 50 Best Restaurant magazine), I did not think twice and accepted the invitation.

Given that the dinner reservation was on a Thursday, I decided to make the most of it and plan a long weekend at the beach. I trekked across Spain with my kids in tow who were less than thrilled having to spend 6 hours in the car each way. They did enjoy the company of the other ten kids once we arrived and ... would you complain if you could stay up until 3am in the morning ... every day!?!

Now I am no foodie. I like my food and looove to eat. I am happy in a bistro, a coffe bar or a restaurant as long as the food tastes good, but the El Celler de Can Roca did blow me away. Situated outside the city of Girona, the restaurant is a benchmark of the Spanish cuisine. The three Michelin Stars attest for it.

First off, I need to say that I don't believe in all this marketing hype neither in presentation nor in service. You either deliver or you don't. I'll admit upfront, the three Roca brothers clearly delivered.

They had me from the word "GO" when they presented us with a Bonsai olive tree as an appetizer on the romantic patio surrounded by olive trees. Green caramelized olives had been attached to hooks which were holding them in place like Christmas balls on a tree.

Many more appetizers followed - such as Campari Bonbons which resembled miniature water balloons, unleashing a flood of zesty orange liquid - before we finally sat down at our table and were presented with another mind-boggling entrée, the "5 continent amuse-bouche" hidden inside a paper lantern. The explosion of flavors as well as textures and the stunning presentation of the dish were well worthy of applause.

My smile kept getting bigger and bigger as my curiosity kept increasing exponentially of what was to come. A display of creativity and serious seduction with Oysters drowned in Agustí Torelló cava, apple compote, ginger, pineapple, candied lemon and spices was my favourite.

Timbale of apple and duck liver with vanilla oil

European lobster parmentier with black trumpet mushrooms

Another spectacular dish was the sole, olive oil, and Mediterranean flavors. The flaky fillet was paired with five olive oil emulsions including (starting from the top) green olive, pinenuts, orange, bergamont, and fennel. It was like having five different dishes in one.

The Iberian suckling pig roasted to perfection for hours with grilled onions, melon and beet was my hubby's favourite (oh, Monsieur had taken a day off - YEAH - and flown in for the weekend).

Cod pot-au-feu, potato gnocchi, cabbage and brandade terrine, cod tripe

Lemon cloud

Milk desserts
(Milk caramel, sheep’s milk ice cream, sheep’s milk curd-cheese foam, sheep’s milk yoghurt and milk cloud)

Dessert buffet cart


Mini ice-cream

The matching wines were selected by Josep Roca in persona!
Need I say more?

The World's 50 Best Restaurant magazine descibes the experience perfectly: "Clever techniques complement simple flavour combinations designed to titillate the palate and the memory rather than confuse the mind. It’s clever stuff – but thankfully it is also utterly delicious." I could not agree more.

July 23, 2012

A little village called Blanes

Blanes is a coastal town which is home to 40,000 inhabitants, situated within the 'La Selva' region of the province of Girona. Located right on the stunning coastline of the Costa Brava in Catalunya, Blanes is the first town you'll stumble across after leaving the province of Barcelona.

This is where I have been hiding out for the past couple of days, relishing in some rest and relaxation with a stunning view over the ocean. Good company and exquisit culinary adventures topped my journey to the rugged coast of northeastern Catalunya.

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