Be it Copenhagen, Girona or San Sebastián, Europe Plays Host to an A-list of Culinary Stars
If eating well is a non-negotiable pre-requisite when making holiday plans, why not consider a city break or multi-centre holiday incorporating one, or indeed more, of the world’s finest restaurants? There’s certainly no shortage of outstanding, not to mention award-winning, eateries across Europe where your dining experience is as likely to leave as lasting as an impression as the destination itself. Taking a look at the world’s 50 best restaurants in 2014, as voted for by an influential group of almost 1,000 leaders from around the world within the restaurant industry comprising food critics, restaurateurs, chefs and respected gastronomes, here’s a handful of Europe’s epicurean establishments par excellence.
Awarded the title of the world’s best restaurant for the fourth time in 2014 (it narrowly missed out on the top spot in 2013), not to mention two Michelin stars, Copenhagen’s noma occupies a stripped back warehouse in a harbourside setting in Christianshavn and is nowadays as much a tick-box essential as the Little Mermaid, Tivoli, the Amalienborg Palace and picturesque Nyhavn. Specialising in ‘mould-breaking’ Scandinavian fare with the freshest seasonal produce shipped in from Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, the chef-owner, René Redzepi, offers an eclectic, experimental yet experienced balance of flavours and ingredients that reflect their natural, Nordic origins. Be it reindeer moss and cep mushrooms, pumpkin, kelp and beechnuts, sloe berries and aromatic herbs, sea urchin and duck or beef tartar and ants, this is likely to be one menu you’ll remember! With only 45 seats, be sure to book your table early.
To Spain next and just a stone’s throw from Barcelona – 38 minutes by train to be precise – is El Celler de Can Roca in Girona. A family-owned and run restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca is the brainchild of Catalan brothers, Joan and Josep Roca, head chef and wine connoisseur respectively, who along with the pastry prowess of their third brother, Jordi, have secured global renown for their outstanding gastronomic inventiveness, a veritable “gastronomic holy trinity”. Rich in locally-sourced Catalan ingredients cooked with flair and precision, the 14-course ‘epicurean experience’ boasts a balance of both elaborate and more simplistic dishes, offering a literal culinary feast for all the senses. Couple that with the historical richness of Girona itself and you have all the makings for a fabulous day trip from the Catalan capital.
Passing through the restaurants in positions three, four and five (located in Modena, New York and London respectively), San Sebastián boasts two eating establishments in the top echelons of the world’s 50 best restaurants. In sixth place is Mugaritz, so named after the tree that grows in the hills inland from the city, where chef, Andoni Luis Aduriz, seeks to invoke both nostalgia and intrigue, striving “to transcend the customs that curtail our freedom”. With no set menu, diners are offered an unpredictable, personalised series of 24 different dishes, some creatively juxtaposing texture, aroma and flavour, some telling a sensory story whilst others are clever culinary tricks of the eye. Aduriz’s edible stones – potatoes designed to look like stones – have been copied the world over.
Not far behind in 8th position is Arzak, the father-and-daughter combination whose aim is to pay homage to the rich traditions of Basque cuisine, all the while using the best local ingredients and the latest cutting-edge techniques. Indeed, Juan Mari Arzak is said to be one of the world’s first chefs to have championed a scientific and experimental approach to cooking, showcasing techniques such as dehydration, distillation and freeze-drying. Daughter, Elena Arzak Espina, meanwhile perfected her craft at the prestigious El Bullí and the revered Swiss School of Hotel Management.
So whether it’s a culinary Copenhagen city break that whets your whistle or you fancy a more leisurely journey across the gastronomic hotspots of northern Spain, be prepared to have your taste buds tantalised like never before! For the complete list, visit http://www.theworlds50best.com/list/1-50-winners.