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2007/03/06

El Bulli at My Fingertips

Ferran Adria
For those that don't know, El Bulli is considered one of the top restaurants in the world. The restaurant, which is closed from October to March, is almost impossible to get into and a dinner there is very expensive. To get a reservation, you must call in mid October for the following year, except if you don't call on the first day or two, you'll be out of luck. The man in the photo above is head chef Ferran Adria, who is credited with the creation of "molecular gastronomy," though it seems he wishes that term would go away.

He has published 5 huge books that are called "general catalogues" and document all the dishes the restaurant had on its menu over a certain period of time. It's not a cookbook as no home kitchen has all the tools needed to prepare his dishes and even if you did, you still couldn't make them. It's more to offer inspiration and get one thinking more about food. These books are insanely expensive (well over US$200) and, thanks to a great library, I finally have my hands on one (at least for a brief period), the 1998-2002 edition. So I'm very, very excited now!

While I've never been lucky enough to sample Adria's food, I did have the opportunity to eat at one of his discpile's restaurants in Washington, DC. Jose Andres has 3 VERY popular restaurants in DC, Zaytinya, Jaleo, and Cafe Atlantico. These places serve simple, true to their respective region cuisine, but the main attraction of the Andres empire is the restaurant within a restaurant, Jose's Minibar inside Cafe Atlantico. The Minibar is where Andres shows off the influence of Adria with an abundance (around 35) of delicious small courses. It's not the kind of food you'd want to eat every night and its not for everyone, but for those interested in something new and totally rethinking what food is, its well worth checking out. My meal at the Minibar is one of the most memorable meals I've ever had in the United States.

And the pictures, as usual. This is food as artwork just as much as it is food as food:

chefs at workThe chefs at work

foie gras cotton candythe famous foie gras cotton candy

meat and potatoesmeat and potatoes: thin slices of top quality steak served on top of a potato foam with a truffle (heavily) scented napkin

lobster americaine Lobster Americaine: You eat the lobster bite off the syringeand then squeeze the soup into your mouth.

2 comments:

nancy said...

looks really delicate, how much did you spend,, were you full? i know that the most expensive restaurant is at Japan, the most expensive dish at that restaurant is 松本牛排~~ wanna go with me one day?

b. cheng said...

when I went it was even less than it is now, but even now its less than US$100. The most common question I get asked is about being full after, it is a lot of courses (over 30), but with all of them being so little, can you get full? The answer is yes. The courses are small, but they are constant and its over such a long period of time (over 3 hours), it is nice to eat, talk, and enjoy. Hehe, good for those who need some portion control.

North American restaurant prices pale in comparison to what you see in Europe were there are many places you can go and spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Japanese Kobe beef is very famous and tastes unbelievable, I'd be very happy to eat it with you one day!