Chalk this one up to pure luck. Some things are just meant to be. The food gods were smiling on us when we were told there was no room at El Celler de Can Roca and when our backup booking at Massana was stuffed up and we were moved to NU. We tried to book Massana through el Tenedor (Spanish Open Table) and was given a confirmation email and SMS (SMS!) that our booking was accepted for our night in Girona. Thing is, Massana is closed for August holidays and their last closed night was our night in the city. Lucky for us the Massana team jumped on the case and gave us a spot at NU.
We spent a third of what we would have spent at El Celler and we wouldn't trade the experience for the world. One of the top meals of the trip!
If you ever get a chance to eat here a) do it, b) ask for a table at the long bar. The chef prepares a number of the dishes right there in front of you and the decision to ask to be moved from a standard table to the bar is what transformed our night.
Things started with crunchy cassava and “Espinaler” sauce. These were beautiful little chips and the sauce was incredibly tasty. We were pretty hungry from a day around town so these really hit the spot while we waited for the main dishes.
Next up was diced vegetable salad with smoked eel and mayonnaise. I am convinced now that I must pick up a iSI whipper as the lightness and texture of the mayo was amazing. And we loved the presentation in the little jars. When we saw the chef put these together we realised that this was going to be a great experience.
Chef wandered a bit into molecular gastronomy with cod bonbon, tomato caviar and virgin olive oil. The burst of the bonbon was so pleasing and flavourful. I'd like to have a go at making this one day.
Yep, you can definitely see a trend starting. Me so lost in a food-coma that I started forgetting to take photos before eating each dish! This was semi-cured mackerel with sweet and sour seaweed and citrus and it was magnificent! The flavour combinations were great - it was obvious that Chef Massana has spent some time in Asia. Wonderful.
We loved the simple king prawns tempura with curry mayonnaise. Why can't restaurants do things like this consistently? It's not that hard - just use good ingredients and a little skill.
My favourite of the night was ravioli filled with black sausage with pumpkin cream and apple. Yes, black sausage presented like this is outstanding. I'd eat a whole dish of these. They weren't heavy or overpowering, just perfect.
Here I go again. Half way into salmon tataki, fruit chop suey and fresh wild mushrooms I remember to snap a picture. I reckon this was #2 from the night.
Razor clams with sesame followed next. I've said it before, I'm dying to make some razor clams but I just can't find them anywhere, including Sydney Seafood Markets. Anyone have a source? These were great and I'd like to recreate them.
Now, come on! This is just mind-blowing good. Wagyu burger on baghir, vegetables and poached egg. Look at that egg!
We started to drift into dessert territory with home-made “xuixo” cream-filled pastry with star anise.
Seriously, how gorgeous is this?? Red fruits tartare, soup and its sphere of vineyard peaches. And it tasted better than it looks, if that's possible. When can we return?!
It turned out to be such an amazing experience. The chef realised how much fun we were having and started mixing it up. He sliced a simple beefsteak tomato and dressed it with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sardine. It was perfect! And then we started to talk to him in Spanglish and he really lit up! He asked if we could take a picture - the restaurant was full of people wondering why we were so famous! Awesome fun.
And we finished up with a taste of Ratafia Russet. Apparently you can only get the stuff in Girona. It was chef's little present to us at the end of a top-notch night. Thanks, guys!