Trip Report: El Celler de Can Roca
I got my reservations for Can Roca before it was awarded the top restaurant in the world by Restaurant Magazine/San Pellegrino. I came here as a solo diner in order to celebrate my birthday. Overall, my impression was that it was delicious but missing something. I feel like the food was best accompanied with some form of wine or drink. I don't drink alcohol, so unfortunately, the only thing that was offered to me was water bottled in a Catalan town that I can't remember. I was expecting for at least a juice, tea or even Coke. A lot of the dishes here also had a good interplay between sweet and savory, mild and intense flavors. I personally prefer intense flavors which probably explains why I wasn't too impressed with the place. There were only a couple of dishes that were just OK but only 2 or 3 out of the 25 that really wowed me. The ones below are the highlights of the night for me:
The first few small bites that were introduced to me represented the most recent travels the brothers have taken. For my amuses, I had a Mexican "burrito", Peruvia ceviche broth, Korean panko fried bread(think pork belly bun), and Moroccan dish that I can't really describe well. All were good except for their version of Chinese"peking duck". It was pickled vegetables with plum cream in a mandarin bun. I was expecting a little bit more sweetness, crispiness and fattiness to the dish which I didn't detect.
Next came the caramelized olive. Actually, there were two of them, each hanging lowly on a little tree. Sweet and salty, they were olives with anchovies caramelized to give it a bit of a crunch. I tried to lift the potted plant up and boy was it heavy! I remarked to my server regarding the weight and she told me that there's another serverware that actually heavier than that!
Truffled bombon: I think this was either foie or liver pate that's coated in something that makes it look like a chocolate truffle. One of many dishes where the theme of dessert meets savory comes together. I really liked this one and it was served in a rock that was actually heavier than the olive bansai plant.
Vegetable stock with sprouts, flowers, leaves and fruits. The soup was cooked at room temperate which I found interesting. The stock itself was a bit thick yet clear, taking on a syrupy or nectar thick consistency rather than your normal clear soup. This won me over with the presence of intense mango bits floating in the soup. Mangoes are one of my favorite fruits.
Chestnuts and smoked eel: this wasn't particulary memorable to me.
White asparagus and truffle viennetta: yummy and creamy
Boletus Edulis cured in salt: This was an "egg" dish in so far that it looked like an egg and actually has a yolk in it. The yolk is actually the mushroom, aka, ceps.
Salad of sea anemone, razor clam, royal cucumber and seaweed in escabeche: This is the first time I could actually taste the sweetness of sea cucumber. The ones I've had before were slimy and really didn't have any taste to it. This dish was served in a bowl with the seafood served in strips like noodles. Underneath it is a "soup" of sea urchin. You are given tweezers which I guess serves as "chopsticks" an you can eat it as if you're eating noodles. Perhaps an inspiration from their trip to Asia.
Grilled king prawn: If I remember correctly, there were two broths/sauces here. One had a mild flavor and the other one had an intense shrimp flavor to it(possibly the juice from the shrimp's head). Loved this one.
Mandala of lamb, artichoke flower: One of three new dishes for the menu. It was good and complex but nothing to write home about.
Pigeon parfait and onion: another hit in my palate. The pigeon was cooked to perfection and was fork tender. I haven't had pigeon in 10 yrs and have actually avoided it when I moved to the US and this dish reminded me why I loved pigeon so much.
Candy apple: apart from the chocolates, this was the standout dessert of the night. This was an apple with cream inside. The apple is made of blown sugar much like glass and breaks just like glass as well when you bite into it. This had some sort of sponge cake and was plated to look like a voodoo mask. I was there at a time when Girona had a weeklong celebration in honor of their patron saint. This was a dish to celebrate the occasion.
Trolley of chocolates and other mignardises: It looked like an all you can eat buffet of sorts here. There were so many choices that I had to ask my server to just pick the chocolates and some fruits out for me. All of them were delicious. I still think about the pineapple I had there sometimes. It tasted like it was "caramelized" or steeped in syrup before it was served.
Forgive me if the pictures aren't clear. This is my first attempt at food porn. From left to right, we have: The World, Chestnuts and smoked eel, White Asparagus and truffle viennetta, Ceps cured in salt with egg yolk, Salad of Sea Anemone, razor clam, royal cucumber and seaweed, Grilled King Prawn with Head Juice, Candy Apple