Monday, 1 July 2013


Girona is a much under-rated city, known more, perhaps, as a Ryanair hub and stag-do venue (and yes, it has at least one Irish-themed pub) than a destination in its own right.  Many visitors go straight from arrivals to Barcelona rather than venturing into Girona itself to discover the quiet streets of the picturesque mediaeval old town, complete with its cathedral, university and an impressive market laden with fresh produce.
The elevation of the Roca Brothers' restaurant El Celler de Can Roca to the world number one slot may well change all that, of course. The Rocas weave together magical dishes that celebrate and re-invent simple, iconic local ingredients such as olive, artichoke and prawn.  Each dish is as remarkable for the imagination at work as for its technical expertise, a masterly combination of the arts and sciences of cooking, with a sprinkle of fun thrown in for good measure (eg: white asparagus and truffle viennetta).

Amuse bouche - flavours of the world

Prawn with head juice, seawater, seaweeds and plankton

Sole with garlic, parsley and lemon
However, if you don't feel like frittering away your complete life savings on one, long, magical sitting, Jordi Roca's side enterprise gives a flavour of the Roca approach. The Rocambolesc Gelateria is a Willy Wonka style, fantasy ice-cream "factory" just over the bridge from the old town with pipes, dials, buttons and gadgets everywhere, and bright red and white spirals flying off in all directions. Even adults regress into excitable kids when they enter this brightly lit store. 

Rocambolesc is a bit like an old-fashioned ice-cream cart (the original idea was for just such a cart trundling through the city) which has been transformed into a quirky store.  Jordi has developed a wide range of ice creams and sorbets, made only from natural ingredients; six are always freshly churned and on tap. The colours and flavours are intense, and there's a selection of whacky toppings (fresh fruit, popping candy) to add as the whim takes you.

There's also a real old-fashioned candy floss machine ready to whirl into action if the rich, creamy gelati aren't enough of a sweetness hit to get you through siesta time.  To rediscover your inner Roald Dahl, head for Girona now.

50, Carrer de Santa Clara,


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