My apologies for the lack of posts over the past couple days. I've been cooking for people for the past two nights and that takes up pretty much all of my time. Anyways, back to the action.3/17/07 part 2
After a brisk walk back to the hotel and a quick change of clothes we were off to Girona to each at El Celler de Can Roca. After about a 1.5 hour ride we found ourseles in Girona and soon obtained a taxi to take us to our final destination. I should note, however, that the amount of graffiti in Spain is substantial. Not just the occasional tag on a bridge or overpass but entire train stations would be covered in it. Strange.
We arrived at the two-starred El Celler de Can Roca
at shortly past 1, a bit early for our 1:30 lunch reservation. The cab ride is less than ten minutes and about €7 each way. Overall it was a very easy, if somewhat time-consuming, expedition from Barcelona. It was strange to find the entire restaurant empty of other guests, save for one older gentleman dining alone. In Paris, arriving at 1 PM was a late seating. In Barcelona, we found ourselves alone for about 30 minutes until the room began to fill up. By the time we left, there was not an empty seat in the restaurant.
There was some sort of gastronomic festival going on. All the better for me, more courses.
€100, or maybe €110. Silly Disciple told me this was a bit more than they usually charge because of the extra courses/special menu for the gastro week.
A glass of complimentary cava was served to start off the meal. A nice touch.
I recall liking these more than those at Abac, though not by much. The lighting is weird in these pictures because we were seated right next to a window that bordered a small pool that lies in the restaurant's courtyard. Lots of overexposure and weird reflections in the images.
Foie gras and chocolate, pigeon mousse, and something else tasty I can't quite recall.
I should note that bread service here was quite good. I wasn't all that impressed with their baguette-style rolls, but their softer breads, esepcially the tomato bread, was unique and delicious.
Oysters and cava
A really texturally interesting dish, if not as delicious as it could be. Lightly cooked, I believe, oysters are served in a vessel that was at one point half of a wine bottle. A server comes by and pours in some cava to act as a yeasty and astringent sauce. The cava is texturized (thickened and made more viscous is a "slippery" sense) with what I think is xanthan gum, since the texture is one I'm very familiar with. I tried to find out but technical names were easily lost in translation.
Sea urchin, seaweed gelee
A dish that encased the true essences of the sea. Not only did this have a ocean water like salinity running through it but also a deeper note thanks to the vegetal quality of the seaweed. I also love sea urchin so this was nice to eat.
Mussels, flavors of reisling
A totally excellent dish. Perfectly sweet and creamy mussels are topped with various purees and sauces incdluing apple, white truffle cream, and a few other delicious items. What totally blew my mind, and was probably the most memorable item of the entire trip was the mussel topped with distilled earth. Totally ridiculous. I believe Doc posted on this technique at the NYC Chef's Congress or some other conference but it was soooo cool. A perfectly clear water tastes just like earth in the best and most subtle way, literally linking suff and turf.
Hot asparagus mousse, smoke
Another cool dish, but not a souffle as the English-version of the menu called it. A hot asparagus foam was piped into a ring of thinly sliced white asparagus. What made this dish cool was how it was presented. Beneath a glass dome, a head of wood smoke enrobes the mousse as it travels from kitchen to table. When the servers remove the domes, a wonderful puff of fragrant smoke rises up into the diner's nose.
This was my least favorite dish of the meal. It was fine, just not all that compelling. I would've liked more passion fruit to cut through the rich fish and somewhat bland pumpkin.
Much, much better than it sounds. A subtle chocolate shell encased a sweet-salty, almost creamy prawn filling. A very interesting but tasty way to end the seafood part of the meal.
Iberian pork "carpaccio"
The server described this to us as carpaccio of Iberico pork. If this was in fact a true carpaccio it marks the first time I've ever eaten an entire dish of raw pork. Sure I've had pork rare or even blue, but this would take it to a whole new level. Anyway, this was delicious and didn't taste cured as a ham would. It was creamy, faintly porky, and went extremely well with the egg custard and potato glass. Very unique in an almost rustic sense.
Piegon, berries, citrus
Seriously, we did our best to fight against Europe's pigeon over-population problem. This was a nice preparation with various types of acidic and sweet fruits to act as foils to the bird's gaminess. The type of dish I would come up with, only executed better.
Baby goat, truffle sauce
This was a very delicate preparation of goat, though it could've done without the light breading that surrounded it. The truffles and green vegetable puree kind of took center stage, but in a good way.
Rose foam, chocolate, pistachio ice cream
The rose foam was extremely delicate and subtle but just assertive enough so that you knew what you were eating. I also really liked the abstract sugar "ramekin" the foam was piped in to. The ice cream and chocolate gave the dish a bit more weight but surprisingly did not overpower the rose component.
At the meal's beginning we had asked them to substitute in one dessert that can highly recommended by Silly Disciple and several others. They graciously accomodated this request.
So I received:
Trip to Havana: Mojito ice, chocolate/tobacco "cigar"
This dish was sooo cool and I'm so glad I've ordered it. It seems modern pastry cooks love messing around with menthol, tobacco, and savory ingrdients in their desserts. While I think that each has its place in the pastry world, this dessert was the best tobacco application I've ever encountered. The tobacco is very assertive and lingers in the mouth, just like a real cigar, but is faintly whisked away by the cooling and refreshing mojito ice.
The g/f got:
Anarchy 2007: All sorts of crazy shit
The modern Spanish plate I was waiting to see. Total craziness on a plate with no real rhyme or reason. This is not a plating style that I would ever subscribe to, but I'm glad I finally got to try something in this vein. All kinds of fruits, gels, crumbles, cakes, sorbets, glasses. Anarchy.
A nice assortment with a cool serving tray, though not quite as cool as Abac's ladder. The offerings, while not all that unique seemed more tasty and easier to eat than others, perhaps because of the smaller (but more numerous) that preceeded it. The raspberry pate de fruit was actually just a raspberry covered in sugar, a nice but simple touch leaning toward the pure as opposed to the processed. The chocolate brittle thing was also really nice.
The g/f and I both agreed that this was our least "filling" meal beacuse of the smaller courses, although it was still one of our longer ones. In this way, the meal further reaffirmed my belief in super small portions, a la Alinea. I'm still at that point in my eating life where I'd rather eat 10+ very small things than 4 more substantial items, even if the four items are of marginally higher average quality that the selection of ten.
I can't quite decide if I liked this meal more than l'Astrance. There were certainly more fresh and "Ah-ha!" moments (the mussels, the pork, the cigar) here but it was not as technically refined and consistently fundamentally delicious. Both were excellent experiences, nevertheless.
With but one more significant meal left, my time in Europe would soon be drawing to a close. Coming up are Cinc Sentits and Sunday morning tapas at Cerveceria Catalana.
Edited by BryanZ, 01 April 2007 - 09:50 PM.