Photo credit: phoenixphotographers.net
Thank you BBVA for making it possible for people like myself to experience the tastes of the Roca brothers. It’s not very often that you would find me traveling the world and even if I could, with two small children, I would not be able to dine at a restaurant of this caliber. A million thanks to my new friend Al Ortiz and all the wonderful people I met last week for thinking to include me in this journey. For most people attending the event, including myself, this was a rare opportunity to get a taste of what the best restaurant in the world would be like. The three Roca brothers own a restaurant together in Spain called El Celler de Can Roca. Not only have they been named the best restaurant in the world twice but they have been one of the three top restaurants in the world since 2011. Talent, passion, workmanship, creation, and perseverance are the daily ingredients that explain why the work of Joan, Josep and Jordi, has been recognized all over the world. Back in 2014 BBVA came up with a genius idea to put these three masterminds on tour around the world. This year the tour makes 5 stops, they do a few events at each location, during each event they host 100 gracious guests that get to partake in a 20 course meal with about 200 ingredients. This year they’re making pit stops in London, Hong Kong, Phoenix, San Francisco and Santiago de Chile. This is quite a feat for anyone and while the Roca brothers are on tour, they shut down their restaurant and bring their workers along for the ride to help keep service consistent. Let’s get on with the food! Each course is thoughtfully prepared using creative techniques and when possible, incorporating local ingredients. The three-night event was held at the Four Season Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, where Chef Mel Mecinas usually holds down the fort. Talavera was closed for those nights and Chef Mecinas was there to help the brothers out. An experience he says he’ll not soon forget.
I pull up to the valet at the Four Seasons, hop out of my car and am greeted in the lobby by Al. I’ve come by myself and it’s a tad bit intimidating walking into a cocktail party of that degree and not knowing anyone. I clung to my BBVA friends, made small chat with them and enjoyed some Iberico ham and suckling pig and barbecue brioche. Once we are welcomed into the dining room, we seated at our tables and waited eagerly for the food to arrive. How do you get a spot at the table? I got lucky, really lucky but if you happen to be a customer or a potential customer of BBVA, then you might get one of these coveted spots. My tablemates were kind souls that have done some pretty amazing things around town and in business. It was quite a pleasure getting to know them all during our three and a half hour dinner. Introductions were made, drinks were poured and then the staff in perfect unison and with such grace, placed our first course in front of us. The World On Our Tour was a tour for our taste buds. Each bite paid homage to the different locations they have traveled to, with their own twist on some known dishes at those locations. London featured a scotch egg with salmon roe and the favorite at our table was the pino empanada with merken from Santiago de Chile.
The room filled with chatter as our second course, memories of a neighborhood bar, appeared at our table. A visual journey to their restaurant, with the three brothers, in their younger years, perched on the display and the tapas nestled atop a few stands in the front. A grapefruit and Campari bonbon took center stage for our table as well as the crunchy cod with brandade, oloroso sherry, spinach and pine nuts.
As we began to get a taste for what these Chefs had to offer, our journey through 6 entrees began. Each one more gorgeous than the last and some almost too pretty to eat. Vegetable consomme came out as a tiny garden securley planted in the bowl and the consomme was poured tableside. A delightful oyster topped with champignon mushroom foam and apple was topped with iodine sauce tableside as well. The shrimp paramentier with mole of shrimp, phytoplankton sponge cake and crunchy legs came to us on top of a sealed bowl, where the smoke of spices down below filled our nostrils. A nice flaky portion of halibut was served with an array of sauces, that gave life and color to the mild fish. It is hard to pick favorites with this food, as it was truly all spectacular in one way or another. However, call me a meat girl but I was head over heels for the next two dishes. The crunch suckling pig and sweet and sour pork rib with king oyster mushrooms, avocado puree with truffles and sauteed mushrooms, may have been inhaled in a few seconds. And although the knuckle of veal was the last entree served, I still had room to consume it with no hesitation. The meat was cooked to perfection and plated with peppers stuffed with quinoa, blueberries, chili threads and cocoa.
To end our night we were given two desserts (thank you!). A gorgeous plate full of avocado, lime, cucumber and nopal, gave us an experience of textures, flavors and temperatures, in fact, both desserts did. I mean truly the entire meal did. When people ask me about the event, it’s not that the food was magical, it’s that the entire experience from the service, to the presentation was out of this world. Every single detail in play, worked and worked well. The last dessert was for us Phoenicians a desert experience. And what an experience it was.