| MADRID, April 30
MADRID, April 30 An avante-garde restaurant run
by three brothers in north-east Spain hopes that being crowned
the world's best restaurant will boost food tourism in
El Celler de Can Roca in Girona scooped the prestigious
prize from Britain's Restaurant magazine on Monday, making
Spain's coastal region north of Barcelona the top place in the
world to eat once again.
The restaurant ended Danish experimental eatery Noma's
three-year run in the No. 1 slot. Noma took the title from
Catalan chef Ferran Adria's El Bulli, which is 30 miles (48 kms)
from El Celler, and held the crown for four years.
El Celler, which the Roca brothers opened in 1986 and boasts
three Michelin stars, favours Catalan ingredients such as fresh
seafood and playful presentation, serving caramelised olives on
bonsai trees to diners.
Dishes at the avant-garde restaurant include desserts based
on perfume ingredients, including Calvin Klein's Eternity, ice
cream that tastes like smoke from Cuban cigars, and "Dublin Bay
prawns with curry smoke".
"The prize means we can strengthen our brand and in terms of
promoting our country it's extremely important," sommelier Josep
Roca told radio station Cadena Ser on Tuesday.
"We have to take advantage of this to show off our country,
philosophy, way of being, living, eating and in some way use it
to our advantage in terms of tourism."
Josep and his brothers Joan and Jordi run the restaurant
after learning the trade at their parents' Can Roca restaurant,
also in Girona.
Joan, who spent one season under Adria at the now closed El
Bulli, is head chef, while Jordi takes care of desserts.
The eatery, which has been ranked among the world's top five
restaurants for the last five years, offers two tasting menus
featuring over 20 dishes for 135 euros ($180) and 165 euros.
"The Roca brothers have managed to reach an extraordinary
level based on dialogue, between the sweet, the savoury and
wine, in a way no other restaurant in the world has managed,"
said Adria, who cried when the award was announced on Monday.
Two restaurants in Spain's northern Basque Country, Mugaritz
and Arzak, came in at No. 4 and No. 8 on the list, making Spain
the world's top ranking gastronomic destination with three of
the top 10 slots.
Elena Arzak, named the best chef in the world two years ago,
told Reuters she also thought the rankings could help lift
Spain's depressed economy.
Tourism is one of the only bright spots in Spain's economy,
which has shrunk for seven consecutive quarters with record
unemployment of 27 percent.
"Getting on the list has a major international impact
because it encourages food tourism and generates excitement
among people who like fine dining," Arzak said.
"People come from all over the world ... recently we've been
seeing lots of visitors from Australia, New Zealand, the
Philippines and Canada. It's like you get to travel all over the
world without leaving the restaurant, just talking to the people
who come in."
($1 = 0.7634 euros)
(Writing by Clare Kane, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)