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Three Michelin Stars, Girona

Reviewed by Justine Murphy, CEO of mymuybueno – 21st September 2017 

The three Michelin star restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, located in Girona, Spain, is run by the three Roca brothers – Joan, Josep and Jordi. Each brother is a global leader in their field – Joan as a chef, Josep as a sommelier and Jordi as a pâtissier. The restaurant itself is very modern, with glass fronted windows, a triangular dining room built around an inner garden and a very unique wine cellar.

It was a beautiful, blue-skied sunny day when I visited El Celler de Can Roca. I was greeted by Joan Roca and given a tour of the kitchen. I learnt about each station, and during the tour his passion and love for ingredients and cooking was evident. I was then honoured with an invitation to visit the walk-in cellar, with its amazing selection of grapes and regions and different sensory areas. The cellar contains approximately 30,000 bottles, which is just amazing. It was really interesting to learn about the history of El Celler de Can Roca and how the chefs live upstairs in the house, and that their parents’ house, which is where everything used to be, is just around the corner. They serve a simple menú del día there, cooked by the Roca brothers’ mother, and all the staff from the restaurant eat there too. From the very start I could tell that the heart, soul and passion rooted in this family is like no other. In just my first hour of being here, I knew I was in for a treat.

From there, I was taken into the triangular glass-fronted dining room, which is built around an inner garden of poplar trees. This gave the whole room so much light and a real sense of nature and it also evoked a very peaceful vibe. I can just imagine that as the trees change throughout the seasons it gives a new dining experience every time.

The tables had white linen table cloths and a very clean modern set-up. I took my seat and my camera was provided with its own chair and cushion too, which was a nice touch, much like Atera. I chose the Feast Menu and wine pairing.

I started with a glass of Brut, which was from their own sparkling wine and it was crisp, fresh and delicious.

The world, quite literally, arrived in front of me in the form of a globe with different arms holding various appetisers that represented different countries and the traditional flavours pertaining to them. It started with Thailand, with flavours of chicken, coriander, coconut, curry and lime. The sphere reminded me of my dining experience at The Ledbury, but what was inside was completely different and absolutely delicious.

Japan came next, featuring miso with cream dashi and nyinyonyaki tempura. This was sweet, light and sugary with flavours of coconut.

On to Peru, with ‘Causa Limena’ potato that melted in my mouth. It was so unusual – magical, but still natural.

My next mouthful truly embodied Turkey. Slow-cooked lamb with yoghurt, cucumber, onion and mint – it was perfect.

Lastly we came to Korea, featuring panko fried bread with bacon, soy, kimchi and sesame oil. This was a delicious morsel and completed my round the world trip. Or so I thought.

I was then instructed to play a game, aligning the arms at the base with the countries on the globe itself. This opened the globe and presented me with the taste of Russia in a seawater and caviar sphere. This just burst in my mouth and nicely cleaned my palate of all of the flavours I had just experienced.

We then returned to Girona, with a pop-up display of photographs showing each of the three Roca brothers in their youth. The bites presented here were designed as memories of a bar in the suburbs of Girona. Breaded Squid, which was a base of squid topped with crunchy balls. A Patatas Brava one, which was incredible. A Campari Bonbon, which consisted of a sphere of cacao butter that melted in my mouth on impact, releasing the bitter Campari liquid. Montse’s Meat Cannelloni, which paid homage to their mother and her cannelloni dish. Then finally, Pigeon Bonbon, which was beautiful with a sweetness and a subtle liver taste.

‘A Campari Bonbon, which consisted of a sphere of cacao butter that melted in my mouth on impact, releasing the bitter Campari liquid’

Under The Sea. A beautiful coral metal display with two spoons was presented. The first spoon contained Razor Clam with Pesto and the second, Mussels with Albariño Foam. The clams were perfectly cooked, and the Albariño wine complimented the mussels well.

A prawn and seafood starfish was the next thing to grace my plate. This was a work of art – served on a block of wood with a fisherman’s net. The texture was soft and full of flavour and a Campari Bonbon, which consisted of a sphere of cacao butter that melted in my mouth on impact, releasing the bitter Campari liquid

More fun arrived next in the form of an Olive Bonsai tree with frozen olives stuffed with anchovies hanging from its branches. These ‘olives’ were made with the same cacao casing as the Campari Bonbon I had enjoyed before and the anchovy umami worked in harmony with this dish.

Truffle heaven. A cold stone was presented with a bonbon, which looked like a clump of mud, sitting on a bed of moss. This came with another dish featuring a warm truffle brioche with a light, almost bao bun encasing. Both of these were a delight, with strong yet subtle hits of truffle and really were the most delicious truffles that I’ve ever experienced. The truffles were all local, sourced just 10km from Girona.

The bread selection came next – a beautiful array of freshly baked delights. I opted for the Apricot and Walnut Bread and a Tomato Brioche. These were both outstanding, the brioche especially as it was light, buttery and simply perfect.

‘These were both outstanding, the brioche especially as it was light, buttery and simply perfect.’

Consommé Gelée of Red Mullet now. This smelt so fresh and had various elements and textures to it. Alioli, red pepper, kombu seaweed, crispy skin and spheres. This was paired with an organic wine, which really complemented the dish.

An oyster was cut into five parts and each part was presented with a different flavour, Green Apple, Mushroom Foam, Seaweed, Summer Truffle and Lemon Cream. This was an utterly exquisite and well-executed dish. My favourite was the Green Apple with its crisp, sweet, freshness and crunch, which worked so well with the salty, wet and smooth oyster. The oyster itself was meaty and delicious. A perfect dish.

Langoustine on a sauce bed made of mushrooms and sage topped with toasted butter foam and vanilla. This was paired with a Chardonnay and the whole balance of flavours was incredible. A beautiful dish.

Mackerel with Tempeh of ‘Ganxet’ Beans. Instructed to eat from left to right, the mackerel was served with fermented beans in order of intensity – one week, two week and four week fermentations. This was a very clever dish and I loved the pairing with three different sherries. The final fermentation certainly packed a punch.

‘The final fermentation certainly packed a punch.’

Prawn Marinated with Rice Vinegar, with a prawn head sauce, crispy prawn legs and seaweed velouté. This was a great dish – the crispy prawn legs were just delicious.

Squid Stuffed with Sake Lees with a Black Rice Sauce and a Sake Jelly. This was paired with an incredible premium sake in a glass made from the base of another bottle, which they had recycled to create. This was a charming dish.

Roasted Turbot with Pil Pil Sauce, which is a classic Basque dish topped with pickled vegetables. I found this quite sharp and bitter, with the pickled vegetable selection almost overpowering the soft delicate flavour of the fish, which was a real shame.

Next came the Smoked Duck, which had been thinly sliced and served with two different textures of corn – a smooth purée and crunchy grilled sweetcorn. Both of these worked and were comforting to the palate. Foie and fresh fig added richness and sweetness to the plate in a different way to the sweetcorn.

The next dish was Iberian Suckling Pig, which had been cooked for twenty-four hours, with a grilled crispy skin top, a sauce of shiso and tamarind and a salad of green papaya, Thai grapefruit, apple, coriander, chilli pepper, lime and cashew. This was married with a peanut foam and was just a genius dish. I loved this – it tasted like Spain meets Asia. The pork was perfect – if I could use a word that defined perfect more, I would. I didn’t want this dish to end and had I been in a more private surrounding, I would have happily licked my plate.

‘I loved this – it tasted like Spain meets Asia.’

Next up was Trio of Lamb cooked in different ways, using different parts of the lamb. Chargrilled lamb consommé, which had an incredible depth of flavour; tripe, which I had never eaten before but was very good; brains served with a yoghurt, which had a Moroccan feel and was very good and then finally, tongue, which was exceptional and very buttery. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this dish.

Squab Civet and its Parfait were next. This was a gamey dish with depth of flavour, beautifully presented with the sauce design on the plate like birds in the sky.

The Plant from Roots to Flowers. This was a palate cleanser with fresh, clean, sharp and sweet flavours inspired by a flower garden. It was served in a half wine bottle plate, with orange blossom, violet, melon, red fruits, cucumber, tomato leaf, liquorice and Chartreuse. This was very good.

Representation of the Pine Tree dessert with ice cream made with pine nuts and honey and flavours of thyme, rosemary and oregano with crumbs and spice. This was served with unusual heavy silver cutlery, and was an interesting dish.

Layers of Puff Pastry with Rice Paper Sheets. These were printed with text to resemble pages torn from an old book and were piped with cream enhanced with Darjeeling tea. This was a dish inspired by a writer in Paris, who wrote in his book about eating cookies and drinking tea with his grandmother. The concept was nice and it was a pretty dish but it failed to deliver as a proper dessert to finish. However, the petit fours trolley more than made up for this.

This was a Willy Wonka trolley of goodness, full of delicious chocolates, madeleines, cookies, jellies and marshmallows. Each and every one was a sweet delight and really showcased the pastry section’s skills.

Wine:

  • Albet i Noya El Cellar Brut Rva D.O. Classic Penedès
  • La Rumbera 16 Alella
  • Pazo Señorans Selección d’Añada 09 D.O. Rias Baixas
  • Regnard Grand Cru Les Preuses 01 A.O.C. Chablis
  • Corta y Raspa 16 Las 40 Sanlúcar de Barrameda/ Bodegas Alonso Manzanilla
  • Velo Flor D.O. Sanlúcar de Barrameda / Palo Cortado Marginal Jerez
  • Heymann – Löwenstein Uhlen B 14 VDP Mosel
  • Sake Katsuyama Den
  • Mas Jullien 13 Vin du Pays de l’Hérault
  • Cosmic Passió 16 Penedès
  • Finca Valdeolmos 10 D.O. Ribera del Duero
  • Viña Bosconia Rva 05 D.O.Qa. Rioja
  • Dempeus Selecció 10 D.O.Qa. Priorat
  • Maximin Grünhauser Spätlese Abtsberg 12 VDP Mosel
  • Vino de Retsina Tsantali y Casta Diva 13 D.O. Alicante
  • Matusalem VORS 30 años D.O. Jerez

 

Favourite dish: The suckling pig dish with Thai flavours.

Napkin Fold: Yes.

Menu to take home: Yes.

Meal for two, including with drinks and service:  £570.

Final Thought: Just incredible. The ingredients, the love, the passion, the skill and the environment all combined to create one utterly beautiful dining experience. I adored most of the dishes, the knowledge, the service, I loved everything. Will I be back? Absolutely.

El Celler De Can Roca
Address: Can Sunyer, 48, Girona, 17007, Spain.
Telephone: +34 972 222 157
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 1.00pm – 12.00am. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Websitewww.cellercanroca.com