Ker & Downey’s Nicole Porto recounts her unforgettable dinner at El Celler de Can Roca – the #2 restaurant in the world and the culminating experience on Ker & Downey’s Northern Spain Culinary Tour, a set-departure journey traveling through the Basque and Cataluña regions of Spain in October 2017.
Specifically designed with the foodie in mind, Ker & Downey’s Northern Spain Culinary Tour uses food as a “connecting thread” to infuse travelers with a deep-rooted sense of place, to engage in active adventures in nature, and to genuinely connect them with the many local friends and neighbors they meet along the way.
The cornerstone of this nine-day, food-forward adventure is a highly coveted reservation at El Celler de Can Roca, which has been ranked among the top five restaurants in the world by Restaurant Magazine for the past six years running. In 2013 and 2015, this three Michelin starred restaurant – helmed by the Roca brothers Joan (Master Chef), Josep (Sommelier), and Jordi (Pastry Chef) – earned the number one spot on the list.
For Ker & Downey’s Nicole Porto, the 16+ course dining experience at El Celler de Can Roca was not only about enjoying one of the most avant-garde meals on the planet; it was also a chance to see how culinary traditions tie people, generations, and cultures together in Cataluña.
“In an area already so blessed with abundant seafood, vegetables, and some of the world’s most sought-after ham, it would seem easy to open a restaurant with such aplomb,” Porto states. “The Roca brothers take nothing for granted though, and in fact have an entire building and garden dedicated to their recipe ‘think tank’. Chemists, botanists, and line cooks alike contribute to the multicultural menu, taking inspiration from their travels, imaginations, and the bounty of fresh ingredients available to them.”
The result is an amalgamation of Catalan ingredients, designed to stimulate your senses, and cause you to recall memories and emotions through smells, flavors, and plating.
For Porto, a show stopping amuse bouche was a bonsai olive tree hung with “olives” made out of the purest tasting olive ice cream. Her dinner then continued with a culinary tour of the neighborhood in Girona where the Roca brothers grew up, including a dish titled “Around the World” featuring a mini-burrito (think the size of a fingertip!) and a tiny vine leaf tartlet filled with the flavors of Turkey: goat yoghurt, eggplant, and cucumber. A later favorite featured local sardines floating in a chlorophyll emulsion with “ajoblanco” ice cream, garnished with cloverleaves.
“From start to finish you could taste the passion, history, whimsy, and art that goes into every bite,” says Porto. “And we were lucky enough to meet all three of the Roca brothers, each one contributing his own genius to the experience.”
Indeed, the Roca brothers are a gastronomic trifecta and know a good thing when they see it. Thus they named ethnobotanist/mycologist Evarist March as their dedicated forager to provide them with a manner of new flavors, textures, and colors from their own back yard so to speak. For example, March recently took advantage of the prickly pear cactus overpopulation of Cataluña and helped them gather enough of the sweet/tart red fruit to grace a beautiful dish of red mullet with fresh figs.
Nicole’s once-in-a-lifetime dinner at El Celler de Can Roca was certainly an experience she will not soon forget and one that is available to anyone traveling on Ker & Downey’s Northern Spain Culinary Tour in October. It is our passion to introduce travelers to such passionate personalities as the Roca brothers and Evarist March and one of the many ways we use the “connecting thread” of food to enrich each travelers’ journey through the Basque and Cataluña regions of Spain.
Reserve your spot at the El Celler de Can Roca table by joining the Ker & Downey’s Northern Spain Culinary Tour today.