Before you read this, let me confess. I’ve never eaten at the best restaurant in the world. I’ve had awesome food all over the globe, but I’ve never sat down in the best restaurant in the world or even had a reservation there. Years ago I started thinking about my bucket list and began to wonder if I could eat anywhere, where would it be? That’s a tough question. Think about it. If you could have a meal anyplace on this planet, where would you eat? I don’t think most people can answer that question (and no, mom’s meatloaf doesn’t count as an option) given the infinite number of choices and the enormity of Earth. When you can’t decide what choices to make, do what I do. Let someone else decide for you.
It’s an easy google search to find the best restaurant on the planet. It seems that the international foodies have doing this contest for quite some time and each year the top 50 restaurants on the planet are selected, numbered in ascending order and put online for all to see. The first time I looked to see who was first place, El Bulli was the victor. It was a restaurant in northern Spain that took reservations one day after Christmas, and was immediately full all year. If you could get in, then you booked your flight around your reservation. Chances were that you wouldn’t get a reservation because everyone wants to eat at the best restaurant in the world. El Bulli is now out of business. You might ask yourself how the number one eatery in the world ends up calling it quits. El Bulli was never really about feeding people; It was about scientific food experiments: take normal ingredients and break down their molecular structure to make them look different and serve them in unorthodox ways. The creative force behind El Bulli has probably made a lot more money selling his coffee table size recipe books than making dinner for his customers.
Once El Bulli closed, the mantle was passed to Noma. Noma is the polar opposite, focusing on market-to-table, and using local ingredients with a twist. Live ants and sea urchin pie have been some of the most popular items. Apparently Danish ants taste better than other ants, but I wouldn’t know. I never got to try one. All this brings to me to the reason for my ramblings. As I’m planning a trip for my birthday in March, I pulled up Noma’s calendar to see if I could get a spot. I mean really, it’s not every day that I turn 40 for the 15th time! How busy can March be in Denmark? To my chagrin, I discovered that Noma is relocating to Australia for half the year. I guess my original statement is correct: How busy can March be in Denmark? Not busy enough apparently. It can be pretty busy in Australia though, which has one of the best currency conversion rates in the world at the moment. Plus, once you start mixing in giant termites, Vegemite, and kangaroo, the whole game could change.However, I’m not going to go to Australia to eat dinner. Sorry. My birthday is important, but it’s not that important. So, what to do? Go for number 2? No one wants to eat number 2. I don’t mean that just in the bathroom sense, but how excited are you to brag that you ate at the second best place in the world? That’s like saying you’re friends with Oates from Hall and Oates or the dark haired guy from Wham. My apologies if either of the two of you are reading this… I’m just illustrating my point.
Well, guess what? I’m not the foodie I thought I was because somehow I never got the memo about the shake-up in July of 2015 when Noma got bumped. Not to number 2, but to number 3. Maybe somebody got a bad ant, maybe someone got tired of eating sustainable foods…..who knows? So, another restaurant is now topping the list for 2015. Coincidentally enough, it’s been on the top 50 for a few years. Even odder, it is based in the same exact town as El Bulli was. Maybe the neighbors got a copy of the El Bulli book and decided to cash in on the ideas. The name is El Celler De Can Roca, which I hope does not translate to “the cellar with a can of rocks”. It”s in Giron, Spain about an hour north of Barcelona.
By this time, you’re saying to yourself….”Hey Traveling Wizard! Why does this matter?” Well let me tell you….It turns out coincidentally enough that I’ll be in Barcelona in two weeks! Yes, lucky me. All I have to do is book my table, drive an hour up the coast, check in on Facebook, eat some weird Spanish food, take some pictures and then I can cross it off my list. All that’s required is to make a reservation. Do you know what the biggest issue with trying to get a table at “The World’s Top Restaurant”? Apparently everyone else in the world that likes nice restaurants has internet and paid attention in July when the memo came out. The place is sold out. No available dates anywhere on their year calendar. There’s not one table or chair available for an entire year. There’s no messing around and making reservations like you do on Open Table. You give a credit card in advance, assuming you can find a day that’s not completely booked. As I said, there’s not a spot. So, what’s option two? Send them an email and tell them what a famous travel blogger I am and hope that someone cancels. Rest assured that they’ve entertained the most famous food critics in the world, so even exaggerating my blog traffic times 100 doesn’t impress them. In the end, all you get is a letter in Spanish asking you to book on the website. It’s a Catch 22.
So, when I arrive in Barcelona, I’m renting a car, driving up the coast and I’m going to try to figure out a way to get in this damn restaurant. I’m going to post begging and pleadings on Twitter, tell the restaurant hostess I only have a week to live, or when all else fails, I’m going to try to place an order to go. Maybe they’ll let me sit at the bar. I can apply for a job in the kitchen, sift through the leftovers in the dumpster, or just absorb the food through osmosis… I suppose once they tell me no, I’ll probably just leave and eat at their other dessert restaurant and spin the story that i was at the best restaurant in the world’s “other restaurant”. Either way, it’s going to be an adventure.