Girona has the best restaurant in the world. It may be an easy phrase to say, but it's a fact that's been difficult to achieve. Just ask the three Roca brothers who, since 1986, have been working non-stop to create a restaurant that is so exceptional and excellent that trying to find a really appropriate adjective runs the risk of falling far short. If you're one of those people for who good food and the sensations that you can enjoy while eating at a restaurant table create complete happiness, then Joan in the kichen, Josep in the dining-room and wine cellar, and Jordi in charge of desserts, are your fairy godfathers who can bring you maximum happiness. Their daily objective is to excite their customers, enabling them to live a magical experience from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave. To make it possible, around 70 professionals and the best local and international ingredients are at the service of around barely 50 diners. But the equation isn't complete without a third variable that involves culinary tradition, the avant-garde, research and the Rocas' own way of being and thinking. Without ever losing their origins in Catalan cooking, which they learnt from their mother and the family restaurant of Can Roca, located a few metres from El Celler (and where the staff go for lunch each day), the three brothers have conquered the global gastronomy scene. They've even created new cooking techniques that have become trends which other restaurants around the world
Les Cols is the traditional country house ('masia') in Olot where the chef Fina Puigdevall was born and where, since 1990, she's created her own particular and renowned gastronomy. The setting is nothing less than a declaration of intent, because capturing the landscape and essence of the Garrotxa area is the starting-point for Puigdevall's experimental cuisine. The dishes she creates constantly evolve and change, depending on the season and her imagination, but they also use the same local ingredients that never disappear from the menu. In fact, sometimes they're so local they come from the restaurant's own kitchen garden, based on the traditional vegetable gardens of the county. Food items inextricably connected to this area include buckwheat, turnip, Santa Pau white beans, and truffles, which are all omnipresent. Another key part of her cooking is the fact of looking for the essence of each idea on the plate, stripping it back to say a lot with very little. And there's also space for playing games, which are always incoporated into the menus. For example, there's an egg dish that changes each season: it's made with truffle in the winter, with spelt in the autumn and with tuna in the summer. Puigdevall also likes to play with ingredients that, at first glance, are not suited for particular kinds of dishes. And in honour of the restaurant name, there is always a dish that contains cabbage ('col').
Even though Casamar has a long history as a rural hotel-restaurant set on the bay of Llafranc in the Costa Brava, it wasn't until the year 2000 that it started to gain gastronomic momentum that carried it, in 2011, to win its first Michelin star. This was down in no small part to Quim Casellas, grandson of the founder and the chef. Without having shown any particular previous interest in cooking (although he did help out with the family business from a young age), the moment came that he started to take advantage of the time that Casamar was closed during the winter to undertake intensive training periods with experts such as Jean Luc Figueres, Joan Bosch, Carles Gaig, Joan Roca and Fermí Puig, to absorb as much of their wisdom as he could. As such, and without excessive aspirations, he started to construct a new style of Empordà cooking, which rather than avant-garde is an updating, with the concept of slow food forming his day-to-day philosophy. The menu is changed three times a year to adapt it to seasonal products, and, for the most part, they come from sources that are no more than 5km away from the restaurant. As such, if it's artichokes time, you might be able to sample sautéed artichokes with duck gizzards and poached quail's eggs. And if you're lucky enough to find them on the menu, you should definitely try the subtle and revivalist warm cannelloni of leek with langoustines and Parmesan. Special mention has to be made of the wine list, with almost 400 varieties,