Can Roca (Girona, Spain) – The Master Revealed
Our second meal at Can Roca (the very next day) was sublime. On paper, it sounds the same as the previous meal but there was something more the second time; perhaps, it was a better understanding of the food. This meal was our 2nd best of Spain (El Bulli was 1st) and one of the better meals of our entire trip.
1. Amuses – We were served a plate of 3 amuses:
a – Crustacian Cream w/ Caviar & Fennel – the essence of seawater, if not a bit too salty; no wow, but solid. Good.
b – Melon-stuffed Foie Gras – the foie was of excellent quality & taste with the melon “lightening” the dish up. Very Good.
c – Cherry Soup w/ Ginger Ice Cream – the soup had the right tartness & sweetness, the ginger ice cream was refreshingly mellow. Excellent.
2. Oyster w/ “Earth” Distalletes sauce
This dish was remarkable. The earth distallates sauce tasted like the earth; granted, this sounds strange on paper but it’s a deep taste that could be used in countless other dishes (think a stronger coffee type taste.) The oyster was of much higher quality than the previous night. The taste profile was very interesting – the sea from the oyster engulfing your mouth followed abruptly by a taste of earth with a long finish. Excellent.
3. Appled-wrapped Foie Gras w/ Vanilla Oil & Apple/Vanilla sauce
The foie was a tad veiny but the flavor combination was serene – the richness of the foie followed by a mellow vanilla that lasted for a bit on the tongue. Can Roca is a master of the lingering taste. Very Good.
4. Asparagus Mousse
The essence of asparagus with its taste slowly fading. Very Good.
5. Prawns w/ Seaweed & Garlic sauce
The prawns were of high quality and cooked well, the seaweed a touch too salty, but it’s unclear if everything went well together. If nothing else, it was missing the smoothness of the previous dishes. Good.
6. Calamari w/ Potato/Onion
Notes say extremely aromatic, food ok, but again, unclear how the flavors were supposed to integrate. Good.
7. Royale Mushroom w/ Peanuts & Licorice
Similar dish to the previous night – an initial peanut burst that quickly fades to the ephemeral mushroom royale, and then, slowly, the licorice taste builds in your mouth for 30-45 seconds. Excellent.
8. Red Mullet w/ “Risotto” & Cream of Bone
The fish was perfect – crispy skin & cooked perfectly though-out. The rice was very rich with hints of orange confit. Very Good.
9. Baby Lamb w/ Morels, Lamb Trotters, & Sweetbreads
Last dish, we thought, they’re trying to fill us up. However, the dish was serene – the flavors blended effortlessly together. The morels and sweetbreads were of decent quality but the lamb was some of the best of our trip (though not quite to level of the Paulliac lamb at Lameloise.) Nonetheless, the story of this dish was just how perfectly the flavors blended together – effortless. Very Good.
10. Foie Gras w/ Bourbon, Corn, & Coconut
The foie was overcooked and i didn’t quite understand the whole corn/coconut business. Not Good.
11. Poison Perfume
Again, another dessert that tasted like the perfume smells. This one tasted more like the perfume than last night’s Gucci envy; however, it probably wasn’t quite as enjoyable a dessert. Good.
12. Trip to Havana
No trip to Can Roca is complete without a Trip to Havana. Excellent.
13. Orange Compote
Carrots, oranges, and egg yolk ice cream – extremely rich but the “bright” carrot cuts right through it. The effect was similar to any variation of French Laundry’s “Peas and Carrots” where the carrot is used as a counterbalance to the natural sweetness of lobster. Very Good.
Overall, this was a superior meal to the previous night. If you read both reviews, it sounds puzzling since there are just as many good and bad dishes in each meal. And if pressed, I would probably remember 2-3 dishes from the first meal as “defining Can Roca” for me; alas, sometimes these things can’t be explained. Regardless, I am now a big fan of the “visiting a restaurant two times in a row” approach as a way to better understand the cuisine and convincing the staff you mean business.
Can Roca is a must-visit restaurant for those in the Barcelona area.
Gastroville has written an excellent comparison of Can Roca vs El Bulli and how two experimental restaurants can diverge in their results. (Note: Nearly a year later, despite my earlier comments in this post, this Can Roca meal reigns supreme as my memorable Spanish meal.)