El Celler de Can Roca, Girona
El Celler de Can Roca is the culmination of years of collaboration between three absurdly talented brothers of the Clan Roca. Joan, Josep and Jordi have formed a food triumvirate which are the undisputed champions of the world culinary scene.
Joan is a master chef who has been cooking since the tender age of eight, Jordi is a patisserie prodigy who makes every effort to use the latest and greatest technology in pursuit of the perfect dessert, and Josep is a revered wine connoisseur and superb maître’d. Together, they are the Roca brothers; siblings who it seems since birth have been destined to become a culinary force to be reckoned with.
On to the actual food then. Upon first looking at the menu, it seems there’s plenty placed there which would not be out of place on the menu of a beachfront Greek Taverna…until you taste them.
Charcoal-grilled king prawn, pigeon, hake and pig trotters are all there to be sampled. Not that the dessert menu follow suit – a special dish of Jordi’s called Anarchy features 37 snippets of flavours on a single plate, ranging from gourmet sorbet to futuristic cheesecake.
Noma is indebted to the landscape of Denmark. So much so, that all of the food served there is prepared only with ingredients which have been locally sourced and foraged. What this means is that the restaurant is truly an authentic Danish dining experience which defies expectations time and time again.
The head chef, and owner, Rene Redzepi, manages to take ordinary sounding dishes and turn them into essential, not to mention extraordinary dining experiences.
The dishes vary in both size and flavour wildly, with blackcurrant berry and roses sitting alongside Nordic coconut on the menu. If there’s any constant at the restaurant, it’s the impeccable seafood selection – squid and fennel, monkfish liver and milk, and sea urchins are amongst the favourites of the regulars.
Osteria Francescana, Modena
The most traditional of Italian dishes and the most modern of cooking techniques collide at this seminal restaurant, which is as well known for its theatricality as it is its fine food. Menu entries such as An eel swimming up the Po River and All the Tongues of the World might seem dubious, but in the hands of head chef Massimo Bottura, they become almost akin to theatrical art pieces.
A particular favourite is Camouflage – a thin layer of foie gras which is delicately decorated with powders of hare blood, chestnut and fine herbs. It borders on the eccentric, but the food is known for its flavour as well as its bizarre presentation.
Eleven Madison Park, New York
This New York eatery has become a sensation in the past few years, and then some. It managed to win over the most curmudgeonly of East Coast food critics… then shock, horror, actually changed its menu from arch gourmet ingredient grids to New York favourites in an attempt to attract the average diner.
Peerless ingredients and world class cooking combine to create dishes which are fine dining interpretations of New York staples like the everything bagel, and craft a dining venue where a waiter is just as likely to bring a meat grinder to your table as they are to pour you wine.
Nova Scotia lobster, Pan Roasted Cod, and foie gras imbued with sesame seeds sit readily on the same menu. Not to mention the tasting menus which will have you sampling dark chocolate lollipops beside deli meats prepared to perfection.
D.O.M, Sao Paulo
Known as the best restaurant in South America, D.O.M has a fearsome reputation which it somehow manages to live up to. Like the staff at Noma, head chef Alex Atala is obsessed with using locally sourced ingredients in order to create a transcendent dining experience. Just to illustrate, a signature dish of the restaurant is a Fresh heart of palm with scallops and coral sauce – not something you’ll find at your local gastro pub.
In order to craft a uniquely Brazilian experience, everything in D.O.M is dependent upon distinctive ingredients which can only be found in South America. Cambuca fruit, manioc root, and tucupi juice are as necessary in the kitchen as any of the equipment in tailoring the flavours of the food – not to mention the rare ingredients which come from the very heart of the Amazon rainforest.