The world’s best restaurant is located in Spain – again! At this year’s Top 50 ranking of the prestigious “Restaurant Magazine” in London, “El Celler de Can Roca” from Girona was selected to the first place. The restaurant, which has also been awarded with three Michelin stars, was opened in 1986 by Joan and Josep Roca as a typical Catalan restaurant near their parent’s bar. Today it is run by three brothers -Joan (chef), Josep (sommelier) and Jordi (pastry) – and well known for the combinations of Catalan cuisine, innovative techniques and the passionate service of its owners. Since 2011, the restaurant of the Roca brothers had been on the second place of the global ranking.
Cuisine as an artistic creation to delight the senses – this is the way gastronomy is seen in Spain. A range of five-star culinary attractions offering a world of tastes, presentation, aroma, textures, colour… Dishes by chefs such as Adrià, Arzak, Berasategui, Ruscalleda, Santamaría, Subijana and Roca have placed Spain at the forefront of international haute cuisine.The new Spanish chefs are artists in the kitchen, as is amply manifested by their enormous international renown. The hallmark of the work of these new culinary artists is its originality and innovation, combining the traditional Mediterranean cuisine with original and creative ideas. The importance of this new cuisine in Spanish culture is such that the chef José Andrés was awarded the Spanish Order of Arts and Letters in 2010.
International prestige – there are many restaurants in Spain which have been distinguished for their outstanding quality and creativity. Throughout the country there are around 150 Michelin-starred establishments, seven of which have been awarded the maximum distinction: one in the Region of Valencia, two in Catalonia, and four in the Basque Country.In Catalonia diners can enjoy the restaurants of “Celler Can Roca” and “Sant Pau”, in the province of Girona.
In the first, located in the city of Girona, the Roca brothers use their culinary creativity to convey a range of emotions. Carme Ruscalleda, on the other hand, offers a modern take on traditional Catalan gastronomy in her restaurant “Sant Pau”, with views over the sea and located in Sant Pol de Mar. There are many other restaurants that have attracted international attention. They include “Enoteca”, “Moments”, “Lasarte” and “Àbac” in Barcelona; “Can Fabes” in Sant Celoni (province of Barcelona); “Les Cols” in Olot, and “Miramar” in Llança (province of Girona).
The El Bulli of the future – Ferrán Adrià has for many years been the standard-bearer of Spanish haute cuisine, and his restaurant, El Bulli, has been considered by many to be the best in the world. However, in July 2011 he closed down the restaurant to take on a new and ambitious project: the “El Bulli Foundation”.The aim is to create a centre for gastronomic creativity in order to spark new ideas in the kitchen and to share them at the international level.
There are plenty of culinary highlights at the Costa Brava and in the surrounding areas with tapas, anchovies and Cava only representing a very small fraction of the infinite possibilities indeed.Small fishing villages turn out to be a source of culinary delicacies, dreamy towns tucked away in the mountains are known for their Mediterranean treats prepared in the traditional stone ovens, and where the oceans kiss the mountains internationally renown wines and Cava are grown.
The kiss of the mountains and the sea, or Mar i muntanya, is a common topic in Catalan dishes. Chicken and giant prawns for example, or Catalan Paella, a dish of meat and seafood. They also like to combine the sweet and the spicy, as in “pork and peach”. A people prone to experiment with tastes and textures the Spanish are thus not easy to surprise. The chefs in Catalan hotels and restaurants are constantly performing a balancing act between the old and the new, between tradition and modern ideas. In a big number of restaurants, the guests are offered unique dishes and innovative menus known as “Cocina de Autor”.
The dishes are as diverse as they are unique and entertaining. Ranging from simple Tapas, there is ample scope for more daring dishes, such as “Mar i muntanya”. There are no limits to what is possible – just think of Ferran Adriá and his famous molecular gastronomy.The Guide Michelin has known this all along. For many years, the Costa Brava has been featuring a very high number of Michelin stars as well as an equally high number of young, keen chefs. Joan Roca in Girona was awarded his third star 2009, and there were plenty of other chefs in the back country work magic using the region’s freshest and most tasty products. They also aim for internationality: traditional dishes are combined with eastern notes, while the most well known Mediterranean dishes also are given new aspects.
Cooking has been considered a beautiful art in Catalonia for a long time. Indeed, the first cookbook published in a Roman language has been around much longer than Ferran Adría and much longer still than his participation at the Documenta. Said cookbook was published in Catalonia in the 14th century: “El Llibre de Sent Soví”.If you ever spot steaks and giant prawn in dark chocolate on the menu – do not be too surprised; this is just a tribute to the master of surrealism, Salvador Dalí.
His appetite is almost proverbial in Catalonia and even made it into a book: “Salvador Dalí – delightful Catalonian dishes”. At the age of six, little Dalí already claimed he wanted to be a cook when he grew up. Later, as the genius became an artist, and a mastermind of marketing who knew very well how sell himself, he also become known for his love of good food. Rumour has it that he used to say, “you can go without eating, but you cannot go without eating well.” One of his favourite meals used to be giant prawns in dark chocolate!!
Gourmets visiting the Costa Brava well get their money’s worth. Firstly, the upscale restaurants with their world famous chefs and extraordinary service are comparatively inexpensive and secondly, some of the less well-known restaurants tucked away in a corner of the countryside offer just as many culinary treats. The region’s excellent wines are also good value for money. Most restaurants offer a three course lunch throughout the week, water and wine included, for about 9 to 19 Euro. In the evenings and on weekends, there is more to choose from on the menu, but dishes are also more expansive and drinks are not included. After supper, there are plenty of pubs and Chilinguitas to go to. It is summer after all!
Travels including cuisine, sports and culture are all the rage these days. The Costa Brava offers all of this and more. Accomodations are easy to find and just as eclectic as the rest of the country. There are Masia- Hotels in the back – country, lovingly restored to their former beauty. They invite the guests to stay and relax in the spa. Luxury hotels near the sea are more international, offering high-quality service and stunning views onto the ocean. On the other hand, there are cosy, family-run houses. Those are very friendly places with a convincingly personal service.
The families are always happy to provide detailed information on excursions and day-trips. Furthermore, the Costa Brava is also known for its well-kept golfing areas. You can find more information about the Costa Brava, restaurants, hotels and the back counrty on our webpage.