Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Designer gelato in Girona
Indulging in Costa Brava's finest gelato
“That looks like unicorn poop!”
This is what my one of my social media followers said when I asked the gang to describe a picture of the frozen treat in a cone in my hand. No, it wasn’t exactly the response I was hoping for, but was pretty accurate nonetheless. Lavender colored swirls were adorned with bright star-shaped sprinkles, fresh strawberries, sponge toffee, and then topped with sparkly purple marshmallows.
It wasn’t unicorn poop, but instead was a magical masterpiece by one of the best gelaterias not only in Girona, but the world.
The title of “World’s Best” should not be taken lightly. While there’s no such official gelato award in the culinary sphere (yet!), this particular gelateria is the brainchild of Jordi Roca. As in, the youngest of the three Roca brothers and the acclaimed pastry chef of their family restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca (also located in Girona). The same eatery that just reclaimed the title of World’s Best Restaurant. Throw in El Celler de Can Roca’s handsome collection of Michelin stars (three, in case you’re wondering), and it’s easy to see how scoring a table there could take a person months, if not years.
The good news is that you won’t need to wait until 2020 to sample a creation from one of the Roca brothers. Chef Jordi blessed the rest of the world with his culinary prowess by opening Rocambolesc in 2012. This gelateria offers a gracious smattering of his creative treats, all served atop a creamy helping of gelato.
Viewfinder Tip: If a cone isn’t doing it for you, opt to have your gelato served in a soft, warm bun. (Yes, really.)
Unlike traditional scooped Italian gelato, the rich ice cream that’s served at Rocambolesc resembles more of an American soft-serve. With a rotating cast of flavors, you’ll never know what will greet you upon entering. Ranging from traditional (Tahitian vanilla) to unconventional (carrot, anyone?), the flavors set the scene while the real showstoppers are the accoutrements.
On my first visit to Rocambolesc I was completely overwhelmed. The Willy Wonka-themed decor had me searching for a chocolate river to dive into. I was distracted by the whimsical clouds of freshly spun cotton candy that was precariously perched atop the gelato of the patrons in front of us. I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into, but I liked it.
I set my sights upon the baked apple gelato. Rocambolesc offers more than 30 different toppings, so I asked the woman behind the counter to choose the perfect ones to suit the flavor profile of my afternoon treat. I watched with wide eyes are she carefully plucked shortbread squares from the bin and placed them upon my gelato swirls. Toffee bits, caramelized apple chunks, and caramel sauce completed my edible work of art. It was almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.
My most recent trip to Spain found me with less than a day to spend in Girona and you better believe my first stop was back at Rocambolesc. As a seasoned patron, this time I chose the toppings all by myself. Ultimately I went with coconut violet gelato, and might have gone a little overboard on the decorations. It looked as if my cone fell face first onto a second grader’s birthday party and I loved it.
Before I indulged in my creation, I did what any seasoned travel blogger would have done: I took a picture and posted it on Instagram. And while one commenter referred to it as unicorn excrement, it tasted like pure magic.
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Chris and Tawny have had articles and videos published on USA TODAY TRAVEL, BBC Travel, Matador Network, as well as appeared as guest stars on TLC Asia's Fun Taiwan television series. When not on the road, you can find Chris and Tawny nestled in their home in Tacoma, Washington fueling up on coffee and cat cuddles while planning their future adventures. You can follow their travels on their blog, Instagram, and YouTube