• Girona’s Gastronomic Greatness

    by  • June 3, 2015 • Architecture, Barcelona, City Breaks, Food & Drink, Girona

    El Celler de Can Roca reclaims the coveted crown in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

    If you’re putting together your travel plans for the coming months and fine food factors high on the list of essential holiday ingredients, you’ll most certainly be more than a little interested in the results of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2015. And for those wanting to eat at the very best of the best, Spain, and the city of Girona in particular, will be a must-visit destination for the ultimate dining experience.

    Girona

    As of Monday, 1st June, Girona’s El Celler de Can Roca reclaimed the ultimate title of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants from last year’s winner, Noma in Copenhagen, which slipped into third place after Modena’s Osteria Francescana. Just 38 minutes by train from Barcelona is El Celler de Can Roca, a family-owned and run 55-seat contemporary Catalan restaurant and 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 accompanied by expertly selected wine pairings.

    Yet it is not just the simple process of creating and delivering dishes that elevates El Celler de Can Roca high above its contemporaries. Back in 2013, the Roca trio created El Somni, “a theatrical multi-sensory production that explored the interaction between food, music and art”. And whilst the brothers are not wowing the United States and Latin America with their culinary genius, the restaurant is heavily involved in a ‘gastro-botanical’ research project entitled Terra Animada, where rare wild species are recorded with the ultimate aim of reintroducing them into the food system. In their own words “defending the dialogue between the countryside and science”.

    Classed as a ‘freestyle’ restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca boasts to being “committed to the avant-garde but still faithful to the memory of different generations of the family’s ancestors dedicated to feeding people”. Rich in locally-sourced Catalan ingredients cooked with flair and precision, the menu boasts a balance of both comforting and gastronomically challenging dishes reflecting both traditional and technical prowess. Couple that with the historical richness of Girona itself and you have all the makings for a delectable day trip from the Catalan capital.

    Set at the confluence of four rivers and overlooked by an imposing hilltop castle, Girona (Gerona in Castilian Spanish) effortlessly combines a multitude of historical riches with a vibrant present-day pulse thanks to its large university community. Built onto the side of a mountain, the Old Quarter (Força Vella) is an absolutely fascinating place to explore, its labyrinthine, steep and narrow cobblestone streets lined with arcaded medieval buildings. Today the Old Quarter is home to chic boutiques, buzzing cafes and contemporary art galleries, not to mention the soaring Santa Maria Cathedral, set 86 steps up from the Plaça de la Catedral. In fact the main street running through the Old Quarter, the Carrer de la Força follows the Via Augusta, once connecting Rome with Cadiz.

    Girona

    In addition to impressive 12th-century Arab baths, an ancient Benedictine monastery and the only Cinema Museum– Museu del Cinema – to be found across Spain, Girona also plays host to one of Europe’s best preserved Jewish communities – El Call – dating all the way back to the Middle Ages. And whilst in Girona, be sure to visit another city landmark, the Eiffel Bridge, spanning the Riu Onyar. Constructed by Gustave Eiffel prior to his eponymous Parisian tower, the bridge – Pont de les Peixateries Velles in Catalan – the bridge links nicely to the Carrer de Santa where you’ll find Rocambolesc, a Willy Wonka-esque gelateria specialising in handcrafted ice-creams and delicious desserts as inspired and created by Jordi Roca in El Celler itself.

    Of course, whilst Girona lends itself perfectly as an easy day excursion from Barcelona, the city has much to offer as a short break destination in its own right, gastronomic superstardom aside. And given the number of direct flights from across the UK, it’s a destination worth serious consideration!

    About

    With a French grandmother, childhood holidays on the continent and a degree in French and Spanish, a love of languages and travel has always been in my blood. Fresh from university with an unfettered enthusiasm to show off my linguistic ability and first-hand knowledge of the world beyond the UK, I entered the travel industry and, 16 years on, I’m still there! With several years spent in the luxury sector planning escorted holidays across Europe for the American market, followed by an even longer tenure designing short breaks with a difference in the must-see cities of Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, Madrid, Prague, Florence, Brussels, Venice, Salzburg, Milan, Krakow and Berlin (to name but a few), it’s fair to say that Europe is my passion! Today my travels have taken me far beyond the boundaries of Europe with so many destinations still to discover, yet the continent abounds in such a wealth of treasures – historical and architectural, cultural and musical, gastronomic, artistic and linguistic – that its appeal, for me, will be eternal.