Roca’n Roll: the perfect 13 course meal and I ate it all!

It was the first grey Tuesday in quite some time. A tad bit frisky. The alarm clock never rang. And we had just missed our train… These circumstances would normally have the best of me: I’d convince myself that these were signs from above and spend the day in bed. But NOT this time. And oddly enough, my heart was pounding as I stepped out of the taxi and made my way through the wooden gate.

I heard and read countless reviews from foodies, chefs, cooks, locals, and tourists alike, raving about their experience. And it was now my turn to know what it felt like to dine at the second best restaurant in the world.

Welcome to El Celler de Can Roca.

El Celler de Can Roca

When traveling, there is nothing I prefer more than to discover a country (and in this case a province) through its local cuisine, especially when it is combined with a modern, sometimes molecular twist on the classics. And this is exactly what the Roca brothers excel in doing!

We opted for the festival menu, with the wine pairing: a choice I certainly did not regret as Josep Roca’s nose has quite the reputation, as well as the cellar to prove it!

El Celler de Josep Roca

We sat down, and were offered a glass of Cava. I was quite surprised as I saw a mini bonsai tree heading in our direction. They placed it on the table. I then noticed a few caramelized olives hanging from the branches. “Pick them and savor  them,” we were told: very amusing and I absolutely loved these sweet & salty treats!

Olivas Caramelizadas

Next came a ice-cold rince-palate  of pomelo and campari: explosion of freshness, and just enough bitterness to make it oh-so very enjoyable.

Bombon Campari

What more can I say than that I was completely blown away by the presentation of our next dish: anchovy bones and puffed seaweed. The texture was identical to rice cakes, but the flavors had nothing to do with what I’ve tasted in the past!

Espinas de anchoas con tempura de arroz de Pals

And then chicken crackers: the lemon zest and the sweetness of the cracker gave it just enough tang.

Teja de pollo a last

As our appetizers continued to come, we were served a new twist on the russian salad: potato sphere, tuna espuma & vegetable brunoise. Very interesting textures, fresh and tasty!

Ensaladilla rusa

As a kid, I absolutely adored Oreos so you can imagine my excitement when I was served this dish! Two slices of a firm black truffle sandwiched a light and smooth sardine mousse, with a few  droplets of Merlot. I was in heaven and making my boyfriend sooo jealous! Haha! (I am egg-intolerant, usually a real challenge for chefs, but not for these brothers!) Opposite to it: smoked eel, blanched asparagus and truffle oil. It held its own!

Mousse of sardine, Truffle & Merlot Oreo and Smoked Eel with Asparagus

Completely deconstructed: sous-vide cooked calamari, puffed batter and caviar lemon. Love the interpretation! These were served alongside the Truffle Brioche and Pot-au-feu Broth, which I couldn’t eat because of my egg-intolerance, but they both looked very tasty.

Calamares a la romana

Brioche de setas de san Jorge con caldo de escudella

Next came the Escalivada: traditionally a pepper, tomato and eggplant soup. The vegetables had undergone spherification, dehydration and rehydration. The result was surprising: a leathery texture outside but soft inside. Delicious, smoky and beautiful to look at. The dish arrived under a bell filled with smoke which infused the air around me when they lifted it. And the little pieces of anchovy really made my day!

Escalivada al humo de brasa en encina

Escalibada al humo de brasa de encina

The following dish was probably my favorite. This is how foie gras needs to be done ALL THE TIME! An artichoke puree layered with foie gras, crispy artichoke leaves, orange zest and black truffle, and drops of truffle oil. I was in heaven! Yes rich and creamy, but balanced by the bitterness of the orange zest and almost too good to be true.

Alcachofa con naranja y aceite de trufa

We needed something light, fresh and slightly acidulated to cleanse the palate following that heavenly rich dish, and that is exactly what we got! A charcoal-grilled King Prawn with an acidulated mushroom juice, that added just the perfect amount of acidity and earthiness to the dish.

Gamba de Palamos a la brasa con jugo acidulado de setas

Being very familiar with snowy and long winters, one of my favorite meals during that time of the year is onion soup…But the next dish puts to shame every single one I’ve ever tasted. A layer of onion caramel coats the plate. Blanched onion and shallot, a Comté cheese sponge and walnuts are gently placed over it. The waiter then pours a Comté cream over the onion caramel and the result is incredible!

Sopa de cebolla y nueces de Crespia con Comté. Bizcocho de nueces

Sopa de cebolla y nueces de Crespia con Comté. Bizcocho de nueces

Next came the probably most talked-about dish. And what I loved most about the grilled Sole with mediterranean flavors was its intellectual aspect. The learning experience suggested by this dish blew me away. Every bite I took evoked a different sensation and each flavor was enhanced by the previous: dill, bergamot, orange, pine nuts, green olive. Sometimes, less is more, and this dish proved it!

Llenguado con aceite de oliva y sabores del Mediterraneo: Hinojo, bergamota, naranja, pinones y olivas verdes

We were then serve a small bowl of the ocean. The very tender baby squid were swimming in a sweet seafood broth. In the centre of the plate, a rock: an onion sponge tinted with squid ink . Not my favorite, but still very very good.

Calamares con roca de cebolla

Shameful I’ll admit, but the only time I have ever tried bouillabaisse was at Paul Bocuse’s Bistro “Le Sud” in Lyon last November. Surprise, surprise: the Spanish can cook up a damn good bouillabaisse as well! Red mullet (the only problem I had with the dish was that the skin was missing on parts of my fish…but other than that, so tender); the Spanish seafood stew, spectacular; and the herb and potato gnocchi, fresh.

Salmonetes con suquet y manteca

The skin!!! So crispy, and the pig suckling meat, slowly braised to perfection until incredibly tender. Just a touch of acidity with the candied orange and its reduction. Once more, I was blown away!

Sierra Mayor Iberian cochinillo con verduras

My Moroccan boyfriend was a huge fan of the next dish, and as was I. Lamb, mint and green peas is a classic, but there was absolutely nothing ordinary about this dish!

Cordero con guisantes y menta

Eucalyptus ice cream, green shiso leaves, candied green Chartreuse, and lime and avocado jelly. All the green goodness reunited on one dish to properly cleanse the palate and wake up those taste buds for the desserts!

Cromatismo verde

Another first… I’ve eaten beets as appetizers, but this was the first time I’ve had them served to me as a part of a dessert. Clearly justified by their natural sweetness, and to serve a variation of the beet alongside a concoction of blood orange to me seemed like pure genius!

Sorbete de naranja sanguina y remolacha

Dulce de leche… I don’t have a sweet tooth, therefore not a big fan of cream or toffee, but I must say “Wow!” The cotton candied leche and apricot jelly, flavors that were all too familiar to my childhood… and that cookie!!!! A great finale to probably one of the best meals and experiences of my life.

Dulce de leche

And just as a treat while we were sipping our coffee….

Praline dorado de avellanas, Palet dOro, Esfera de Yuzu, Mont Blanc, Frambuesa

To say exquisite is simply an understatement: the brothers rocked it!  Their complementarity, their passion and their dedication to follow the family tradition blew me away.

Bring your wallet, and arm yourself with patience (because it is difficult to get a reservation)… but if you love to experience something new and different with ever dish, to take your palate on a journey and to bask in sometimes forgotten memories, the Roca brothers’ restaurant should definitely be on your bucket list.

Just for kicks, here are a few photos of the wines selected by Josep Roca to accompany our meal. I must reiterate: Bravo! for the perfect wine pairing!

Chablis Premier Cru, Regnard Fourchaume, 1995

ARBOIS Traminer, Savagnin, 2007

El Rocallis, Can Rafols dels Caus, 2006

Nelin, René Barbier, 2008

Viña Tondonia Rosado Gran Reserva, 2000

Vouvray Moelleux, Fovreau

4 Comments

  1. kaelo says:

    this menu its amazing…….what i would like to read its what you feel about your meals with each wine…..cause it gives you a complete impact of all your dish……hope to write in a correct form lol

    was a good post =)

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