On 2nd March 2018, we were excited to secure our table at El Celler de Can Roca, Girona to celebrate Valentine’s Day 2019. Been wanting to eat here since 2016 when we last visited Barcelona – was on the waitlist that didn’t’ clear… This reservation was the anchor of our winter holiday that resulted in us planning a trip to Barcelona.
Took an early train from Barcelona to Girona and took time to explore the town centre in the morning and work up an appetite for lunch. We arrived pretty early (& hungry) and even waited at a nearby park until 5 mins before our 12 noon slot before entering the compound.
Nonetheless we were led to wait at the lounge as the staff and crew were not ready yet. We rewarded ourselves for waking up early and making our way to Girona ahead of scheduled lunch time with a glass of Albet i Noya El Celler Brut Rva D.O. Classic Penedes.
While waiting for our table, we were offered to browse the menu. There are two options available: the smaller Tasting of our classic menu (7-course) and the bigger Feast menu (15-course). The choice was clear for us…given this almost once-in-a-lifetime experience, we had to try as much food as possible.
Before commencing on the proper courses, we were treated to a series of snacks~
Starting with Memories of a bar in the suburbs of Girona: squids, kidneys with Sherry, gentian and orange bonbon, Montse’s meat cannelloni, Cod brandade Love the way the small bites were placed over the pop-up stand with photos of the 3 brothers when they were young.
The presentation continued to impress us with Coral: Cockles à la royal with lemon and fermented pepper air and Tuna belly with ginger. We enjoyed every bit of the fresh seafood featured.
Next is probably one of the signature dishes of the restaurant Green olive’s ice cream and black olive tempura. Can you spot the 2 olives hanging on the plant?
While we were enjoying the snacks that continued to wow us, we can’t help but had our eyes glued on an elaborated globe which made its way to other tables that started their meal later than us. What about us? Had they forgotten to serve us that snack? Or is that not included in our menu?
Our anxiety piled as FOMO hit us….we heaved a sigh of relief when the stunning globe was finally brought to our table!
The snacks were created based on the Roca’s travels around the world, which apparently changes regularly. Head over to my instagram or hashtag: #yummydelightsg_roca to see the video of this incredible globe.
For our meal, it featured 3 Asian countries (but not Singapore though from others’ post I read that they showcased our country’s famous chilli crab).
The World (clockwise from top-right)
- Turquia: lamb, yourt, cucumber, onions with mint
- Peru: “Causa limeña”
- Korea: panco fried bread, bacon with soya sauce, kimchi and sesame oil
- Thailand: Thai, chicken, coriander, coconut, curry and lime
After finishing the first 4 snacks, we had to move the lever to match the correct country that inspired the last snack. The answer was pretty straightforward as the last snack was
- Japan: miso cram with nyinyonyaki
After shifting the lever, the globe opens up for the final surprise snack – Sphere of edible seawater. We certainly appreciated the fun factor behind the thoughts and presentation of the snacks. This was the 2nd most interactive dining experience we had, 1st being our visit to Azurmendi.
The last snack was Bean leaves with baby bean tartar, “calçot”, lemon albedo and Black mole Truffled brioche picured with Gonzalez Byass Palo Cortado 1986 Para El Celler De Can Roca. This final snack featured a dish incorporating mole which is a traditional sauce originally used in Mexican cuisine, highlighting the diversity of food showcased in the repertoire of amuse bouche presented.
Bread was offered before we commence the meal proper. Bearing in mind that we would be having a 15-course menu, I had to exercise self-control to limit the amount of bread that I pick though everything look so enticing.
Kicked off our meal proper with the visually stunning Red Salad: beetroot vinaigrette, charcoal-grilled red pepper, red sisho jelly, red onion, celery and cilantro. Honestly, we are not veg people but we polished off everything in a snap. The refreshing and appetizing starter got us ready for the epic courses ahead.
Compared to the earlier dish which exudes passion from the vibrant red colour, the next dish was a picture of calm and serenity. To me, it looked like a Japanese painting – with gold alps rising above the misty clouds and a pair of birds soaring above. Here is the Golden gilt-head bream with rice and sake milk, tender almond tofu and pickled lychee.
Although this was not the first time we visit Barcelona, we hadn’t got the chance to try the celebrated Catalan spring onion. Happy to taste “Calçot” with black sesame ash and dark “romesco” sauce, although it was not served in its traditional form. The traditional way of eating this require guests to eat this with their hand by first peeling off the charred outer layer and dipping the stem part into a sauce; before tilting your head back and lowering it into your mouth (test of your coordination skills). Guess they try to avoid having guests make a mess at this fine dining place hence we got to eat this elegantly with our fork and knife.
Next we had the Langoustine with sagebrush, vanilla oil and toasted butter. By itself it’s a nice dish, but after tasting the awesome langoustine served at Maaemo a few days ago this was comparatively less memorable.
Perhaps I should cover the wine pairing for the dishes so far: (Top row) Gramona Celler Batlle 04 D.O. Cava, Cosmic Encarinyades 17 Agullana and Sake Katsuyama Den Junmai Daiginjo.
(Bottom row) Chateau des Rontets Les Birbettes 15 A.O.C Pouilly-Fuisse, Gran Caus 04 D.O. Penedes and 3 Miradas La Vina de Antonin 17 D.O. Montilla Moriles.
Yet another traditional Spanish ingredient was featured, this time round it’s rabbit meat – Cuttlefish “alla brutesca” with roasted rabbit sauce. Rabbit meat is a somewhat exotic protein that is pretty rare to find in Singapore. I’m not exactly sure but it seemed like “alla brutesca” mean pan-roasted? The last time we had a taste of rabbit meat was at Osteria Francescana where it was served as a filling of a tiny macaron snack. Hence this is the first time we are tasting the meat as a proper dish on its own.
After cutting a small piece off the bone, I placed it gingerly in my mouth expecting the gamey flavour to hit my palate (somehow I had the impression that it would be gamey…). To my surprise, there was none of it and the meat was tender and chewy. It tasted like frog meat.
Next we had the Semi cured hake, juice of its bones, asparagus and rocket pesto, and grilled piparras and rocket oil. Followed by Steamed fresh-caught whole fish market, stuffed with seaweeds and sea anemones. Both fish dish were incredibly fresh and tasty. They had differing textures, former being firm and flaky while the latter had tender and delicate meat.
A third fish dish was served, this time round – Dried eel from Delta de l’Ebre with a foam of garlic and red pepper, charcoal-grilled eel, stir-fry dried potato and saffron oil rounding up our exploration of the harvests from the ocean.
We were delighted to have the Iberico suckling pig blanquette, with fermented cabbage and spiced meatball “pilota” as main. The suckling pig, is a quintessential Spanish dish which we first tried while in Sevogia (Restaurante Villena). The crackling skin with tender meat was unforgettable. Here the dish is plated with acidic sides to balance the richness of the meat.
Wine pairing (Top row): Domaine Vacheron Les Romains 16 A.O.C Sancerre, Partida Pedrer 16 D.O. Qa. Priorat, Mas d’en Compte 07 D.O. QQa. Priorat
(Bottom row) Pradio 16 Ribeira Sacra, Anayon 1967 Carinena, Domaine Verset 10 A.O.C. Cornas
Other than the vintage 1967 wine that left an impression on us, the other wine which I remember fondly was the Vina Real Gran Reserva 75 D.O. Rioja for its vibrant colour and taste. Head over to my instagram to see a video of it’s colour when we twirled it in the glass, the diffracted lights looked like a dancing fire #yummydelightsg_roca
Although France has traditionally been known as the main producer of black truffles, the “diamond of the kitchen” is also produced in Spain. And they are one of the countries with the biggest black truffle production. Happy to try this during the truffle harvest season – Truffle soufflé Truffle oil, truffle parmentier, veal oyster blade, truffle foam.
I even found an interesting story behind the creation of this dish (here). It was said that the truffle soufflé was inspired by the iconic roof of Casa Mila (I visited this impressive building in 2016 – see the shot of roof).
As Joan Roca’s chef explains: “Inspired by the organic faceted shapes of Gaudi’s architecture, the truffle slices contain an ethereal truffle soufflé, and in its core, a portion of veal oyster blade cooked at low temperature, of 50º degrees for 70 hours“.
The second meat dish was Smoked duck magret with orange. This dish seemed like a modern twist to the classic French dish of Duck à l’Orange.
Finally the last main course arrived and its Hare à la royal Beetroot purée, black garlic purée, cocoa dust, distilled earth – another famous French dish. The intensely flavoured hare meat (very gamey compared to rabbit although we typically think that they belonged to the same family?) is served with a rich earthy sauce made with mushrooms, truffle etc. The portion was just right for us to appreciate the dish without feeling overwhelmed by its intense flavours.
For desserts we started with Petrichor Distilled earth, pine syrup ice cream, carob cookie, fir dust, cocoa biscuit. Petrichor refers to the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. Hence this dessert was made to look like soil covered with dried leaves sitting in a puddle of water. It certainly look like we were served soil~
It’s just my guess that they served this dessert – Whiskey cake, as it was supposedly a very popular cake in the 80’s (at least in Spain). Perhaps this serves as a reminder to the brothers’ childhood memories?
The brothers seemed to have immense love for chocolate and it’s not surprising to see Jordi create this dessert From cocoa to chocolate Pantone gradient of cocoa pulp, lychee, vinegar and manzanilla wine, almond milk, raisin, PX and chocolate. Brownie, chocolate sorbet, crispy chocolate made in our bakery workroom and cocoa nib. He even launched a book titled ‘Casa Cacao’ (‘Cocoa House’), a cookbook full of creations where chocolate plays the leading role.
Wine pairing for desserts include: Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Spatlese 03 VDP Mosel, Ars Natura Liqquida Whisky a la tarta, Perez Barqquero La Canada PX D.O. Montilla Moriles and Cafe V60 Fina la Esmeralda Panama Geisha.
Our guilty pleasure didn’t end with the final dessert, instead we were soon greeted by this grand trolley filled with mignardises.
That’s not all…We were eagerly waiting for the sci-fi looking trolley to be pushed to us~ Head over to my IG to see it in action: #yummydelightsg_roca
At this point, I must highlight the subtle but interesting shadows cast by the trees in the courtyard as the sun passes by slowly. A wonderful idea that brings guest closer to nature while dining in the comfort of the hall.
It was already 4pm by the time we finished our lunch, we have only a few hours left to explore the rest of Girona before catching the train back to Barcelona. I must say this day trip to dine at El Celler de Can Roca was totally worth it.
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