Heaven in the Land of Food - El Celler de Can Roca and El Bulli in Costa Brava
It was in 1324 when an anonymous author wrote his recipes in a book. By hand. The name of the book is “Libre de Sent Sovi” and it was one of the first cookbooks in another language than Latin. It was written in Catalan.
The Catalan cuisine was always a step ahead. Nowadays when we talk about haute cuisine the whole world is thinking about Costa Brava. Several of the best restaurants in the world are here. And I had the honor to eat in two of them. Yes. In two.
El Celler de Can Roca
Imaging rain on the first summer day morning, you’re walking around barefoot in the grass and suddenly there are soap bubbles. A lot of them. That’s how “Green Colourology” tastes. One of our 14 courses. They all tasted so good that I wished I could keep them in my mouth forever. And ever.
No wonder El Celler de Can Roca is one of the best restaurants in the world. Actually it’s number two. To get a table here and to enjoy the modern cuisine mixed with Catalan traditional roots you have to reserve six months in advance. And it’s totally worth it.
The kitchen looks like a kitchen on the first sight but then you also think you’re in a chemical laboratory and they really do experiment. They don’t think it’s enough to enjoy your meal - they want you to be part of it. How can this happen? They’re now experimenting with images, music, video projections, sound effects and so much more. So all of your 5 senses shall be involved and the meal shall not longer be a simple pleasure but an opera of your senses. When they will start to offer these “Opera-Meals” is not said yet. Right now they’re testing and playing and enjoying.
El Celler de Can Roca is run by the three brother Joan, Josep and Jordi. And if you ask them what it’s like to work together as brothers and if it’s difficult they will answer: Well, we never did experience anything else.
Joan is the oldest brother and he’s the chef, Josep is the sommelier and Jordi is the genius behind the deserts – like the “Green Colourology”. All three of them seem to be cool, calming, collected. They are not the stars in haute cuisine (actually they are) but they don’t behave like this. They don’t want the attention of the world on themselves but more on their passion for food, wine and deserts. And they are so down earth. When Keith Jenkins wrote a tweet that he had the best desert of his life made by Jordi, Jordi answered “oah yea!!!”. And when I asked Josep when he found out that he wanted to be a sommelier, he answered, that he was filling wine bottles at his parent’s restaurant since he was five and he thinks it was just meant to be.
So if you ask me now what you can expect from a visit to El Celler de Can Roca I would say: “You think you gonna meet George Clooney but then it’s Jude Law and he’s naked. “
Same same but different was our visit at El Bulli, last year’s best restaurant in the world. In 2010 they had 2 million reservation requests. And this year? They’re closing. Who’s this man who’s called the best chef in the world and closing now a milliondollarbaby-restaurant? “He’s a really good guy, an amazing person” says Mauricio Rodriguez who’s working with him since four years. HE is Ferran Adriá. And in Ferran we trust.
And so do his 75 employees, serving in the next few months the last guest. 50 each day. Enjoying regularly 45 of the 220 different dishes created in El Bulli. But just because they’re closing they don’t stop to invent new dishes – the last one, created just one day before we’ve been there: lobster with thai sauce, ginger gelatin, coriander and sesame. But to be honest: we weren’t there to eat. Actually. We had the great honor to have a private session with Ferran himself to ask him every questions which burned on our tongues. And maybe this even more did inspire our senses.
He knows that no one really understands why he’s closing El Bulli but, he says: It was time to do a change. And he kind of don’t care about that he’s famous, he has to cook because he wants to cook not to be the best chef in the world. And he wants no monotony. He wants a change. He tells us that work should not be just work but part of your life. And the new part in his life will be the El Bulli Foundation. A kind of workshop for culinary creatives.
And the whole world is watching again Costa Brava to see which new innovations will come from here.
(AND: we DID eat in El Bulli! We had the honor that they served canapés, what they never did before. And we had shrimps in earl grey tea and the smallest baguette in the world and something with peanut butter and some other ingredients I can’t remember – but I still can taste the feeling I had while eating)
Thanks to the Costa Brava Tourist Board for inviting Traveldudes!
As always... All views are our own!
Written and contributed for Traveldudes by JustTravelous