***This is part 6 of my “Spain-giving 2014” trip report detailing a recent trip to Barcelona over Thanksgiving weekend***
1. American Express Centurion Lounge at SFO
2. Korean Air Lounge at LAX
3. KLM Business Class Los Angeles to Barcelona, via Amsterdam
4. Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona
5. Exploring Barcelona in a Motorcycle Sidecar
6. Day trip to Girona for Lunch at El Celler De Can Roca
7. Sala VIP Lounge at BCN, KLM Crown Lounge at AMS
8. KLM Business Class Barcelona to San Francisco, via Amsterdam
The day had finally arrived – we were off to Girona to dine at El Celler de Can Roca, the current #2, and former #1, restaurant in the world according to San Pellegrino’s list of World’s Best Restaurants.
But I’d be lying if I told you that eating here was the entire reason we had come to Barcelona. The whole impetus for the trip was to mileage run and retain my Alaska Airlines elite status. I guess we turned the trip into more of a “vacation run” since we ended up spending 2 nights, rather than simply flying there and back.
In fact, we didn’t even have reservations until the day before, when we were luckily called up from the waiting list where we had been anxiously sitting for months. El Celler de Can Roca is located in Girona which is roughly an hour-long train ride from Barcelona. There are varying speeds of trains, and I think ours was somewhere in the middle of all the options – not too fast, not too slow.
The train systems in Europe are great, and it was a comfortable ride that took us through the Spanish countryside.
We had budgeted time before lunch to walk around Old Town Girona, and boy, we’re glad that we did. It was absolutely spectacular, and we loved walking along the fort walls which provided unobstructed views of the entire city.
Throughout the walk along the fort walls, there were staircases which led up to even higher vantage points.
The walk took us all the way to the other end of Old Town to the Girona Cathedral.
We began making our way to the restaurant, and rather than taking a taxi, we decided to walk. We soaked in the beautiful sights and sounds along the way.
We arrived at the restaurant and despite our leisurely pace and multiple cappuccino breaks, we were about a half hour early. We noticed a library across the street, and ducked in. This place ended up having the fastest wifi connection we found during our stay, and we easily passed the time checking email and surfing the interwebs.
Finally, it was time to eat, and we crossed the street back to the restaurant.
We were greeted at the entrance and led to our table and must have been one of the first to arrive, since the restaurant was completely empty. The dining room only has about 10 tables, and they are organized in a triangular pattern around a glass-enclosed atrium. Since this was the end of November, all the leaves had fallen and were strewn across the atrium floor.
There were two tasting menus available, and we opted for the larger “Feast” menu along with the wine pairing.
Then the food started coming, and coming, and coming. While all of the dishes were excellent, there were a few that simply blew us away including veal slow-cooked for 72 hours, Iberian suckling pig, and mackerel cooked in an amazing white wine sauce. Every dish was expertly presented, and some were really fun and inventive, like sourdough ice cream presented on a beating heart. Service was impeccable throughout, and overall the meal simply couldn’t have been better.
Here’s a recap of the entire meal:
4 hours and 23 courses later we were done and could barely move by the time we waddled out of the restaurant. This was certainly one of the most memorable meals we’ve ever had, and we’re extremely fortunate to have gotten reservations on one of the two days that we’d be in town. For those of you that are interested, make sure to sign-up for the wait-list, since we actually had our pick of more than one opening within that 2-day window due to multiple cancellations.