All posts tagged “Spanish

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Michelin Guide London (2014 Results)

The most controversial yet?

2 stars – Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and Greenhouse.

1 star – HKK, Angler (South Place Hotel), Outlaw’s at the Capital, Story, Ametsa with Arzak Instruction (seriously!?), Brasserie Chavot, Bo London, Lima, Social Eating House.

One Leicester Street retains its star after the transition. Yeah!!!!

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elBulli: Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food

I went to 5 Guys and Shake Shack..

..but I decided to write down thoughts on the elBulli exhibition instead.

Currently, Somerset House plays an amazing host to a mixed media exhibition elBulli: Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food. The exhibition, occupying two floors of Embankment Gallery West, is an insight into the universe of once “world’s best restaurant” elBulli. There are, however, two parts to this story. The first is an emotional narrative about the German couple Dr Hans Schilling and his wife Marketta who settled at this little spot in Costa Brava in 1965 and opened a restaurant (and a golf course) that would become the world’s gastronomic destination a few decades later. The term “Bullis”, as the exhibition unfolds, is the nickname that Marketta gave to her troop of French bulldogs.

The second part belongs to Ferran Adrià. It commences from the start of his career as elBulli as head chef in 1984, his years of innovative sparks and consolidation of creativity, to the gratification in forms of Le Clé d’Or from Gault Millau and 3 Michelin stars. The exhibition does not end on 30 July 2011 when elBulli closed doors but continues with a sculptural brief on elBullifoundation.

This is neither an art exhibition nor a rigid and indoctrinating documentary about the restaurant or Ferran Adrià. It is a heart-felt piece of culinary history retold creatively through various platforms of media (e.g. moving images, audio recording, compilation of memorabilia and artifacts). The context of European gastronomy, especially on the inauguration of Gault Millau and “nouvelle cuisine”, is also provided but does not divert the attention away from the main story that is elBulli.

In short – yes – I enjoyed my time there very much.

Two thoughts

Two irrelevant thoughts (or stupid questions?) – not directly related to elBulli – sprang from my head.

(1) the importance of having a concept in Western VS Eastern cuisine(s)

At the exhibition one striking analogy to explain the importance of conceptualizing cuisine is made through a comparison to the invention vis-à-via the popularization of miniskirts. (I don’t want to go into detail about this as it might spoil your excitement to the exhibition). Let’s say, in Ferran’s opinion, conceptualizing (or deconstruction and reconstruction of what that has already existed) is important. Gastronomic creation is as much a creation of new taste as a creation of the “concepts and techniques that would be capable of making diners ‘live’ an experience”. In other words, through concepts, cuisine will therefore become a new language that signifies more than just the act of and the pleasure that derives from eating. (Think “techno-emotional”, or using techs to boost emotional interaction). The exhibition seems to suggest that Ferran thought cuisine up to that point was void of a language. There was no vessel to contain it, and that’s what elBulli came right in and hit it bull’s eye (pun intended). This, if I construe it correctly, will posit Western gastronomy in direct opposition to Eastern gastronomy. (Eastern/Western = very bad generalization of cultures but never mind). I feel the cuisine(s) of the East, especially the Far East, already has a vessel that contains itself. This vessel is often led by philosophical or religious development. Say, Zen Buddhism that transpires wabi-sabi in Japanese cuisine and culture. (Check out an excellent piece of writing about Miyamasou in Fool #3, which tackles the Zen philosophy in Japanese haute cuisine). As I am not from the West, my biggest question is whether, in the West and before Ferran spoke of the importance of having a concept, did a concept (or a school of philosophy) that governs the act of eating exist as such? (If you know, please answer).

(2) the taste

The only thing left undiscussed at the exhibition is taste. Taste, to me, seems more temporal than concept/philosophy. Or, is it not? The techno-emotional school of cooking, which epitomizes contemporary Spanish gastronomy, puts concept ahead of taste. You’d leave, presumably, remembering the *experience* of dining rather than the actual construction of taste. This is not to say that the food doesn’t taste very good but it is played up and blitzed to become something memorable but not. This brings me to my own experience. I did not have a chance to eat at elBulli but when I ate at 41 Grados I remembered the laughter-filled experience of hopping around the world across 41 dishes to be bloody incredible. The taste was also bloody incredible. But, I couldn’t single out a taste that I can vividly recall. The same could be said about my thoughtfully orchestrated meals at Mugaritz and Arzak a couple of months back. (The experience was highly memorable). Or… the way we remember an experience is different from the way we remember a taste? Whatever that is, this techno-emotional approach makes Spain one of the most unique regions for dining.

That’s it X

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elBulli: Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food

5th July – 29th September 2013

Embankment Gallery West, South Wing
Somerset House
London
WC2R 1LA

www.somersethouse.org.uk

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41° Experience, Barcelona

41° Experience

There is so much brilliance I can recall about this meal, but I have decided not to put all into writing. Lazy blogger, no. Necessity, yes. The “elements of surprise” are crucial, according to FAQ. When it was first launched, 41° Experience (or 41 Grados) by El Bulli-famed Ferran and Albert Adria was meant to be just a cocktail bar for the annexed Tickets. But it has morphed.. into a 16-seat, tasting-menu-only restaurant, most recently alleged as one of the most difficult to get reservations in the world.

Briefly. There is no reservation line. The booking is made via their website and partially requires payment. There are some drinks included in the €200-per-head tasting menu. You can order a separate alcoholic pairing at €45. Blah. Blah. The venue is a decent-sized bar space, dimmed and dark. There were more FOHs than diners. Above me was a nebula of eclectic images – a kind of modern pop art featuring disparate cultural items around the world – being played in slow motion. And soothing trance-like music..

Not so briefly. The fun at 41° Experience kicked off with a stubbornly square, neatly crafted “41°” ice cube which chilled a smoky liquid substance. Along came a jar containing drops of green olive, preserved in oil. Just your typical jar of olive – but the molecularised EL BULLI style. The liquid olive essence was entrapped in a gelatinous skin. Fragile, it rolled for an escape on the tongue and burst into a taste of what would have been like if I stuffed my mouth with 10 olives in one go. I have never made enough effort to be at El Bulli and I am – or was – never convinced by molecular gastronomy. BUT. That was some alchemy that I highly recommend.

Through my first 3-4 courses, I departed from Barcelona – the 41° latitude as the name of the restaurant portends- wandered through Italy, France, Russia, Asia and many more. Ferran and Albert Adria not only know so much about cuisines but also cultures, wherein lies humourous anecdotes and stereotypes. All these are re-interpreted into all the 41 dishes served at 41° Experience. Some were more successful than others. Some got me to physically interact and/or contemplate intellectually; others made me LAUGH OUT LOUD. (Something about France, of course. And Rene Redzepi might be on the menu). That said, as the concept of the menu relies very heavily on the elements of surprise, of not knowing what comes next and which country where you will end up, it is best not to do so much telling (or display any sharp and clear images). The cooking was exquisite but a complement to the concept. SO.. if you are a global character, know a lot about cuisines and cultures, you will be having a very good time at 41° Experience. If you are averse to internationalism, there is a high risk that you might not get the “jokes”, which are the best part of the meal.

Life-changing? No. But this meal reversed my eagerness in life and I felt happy, giggly.. as if I became a child again :-D

 

(Sorry. Can’t help not telling you of my most favourite dish – a re-constructed Peruvian “causa”. A thick slice of super fresh and

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firm yellowtail/hamachi marinated in lime, chilli and garlic was served nigiri-style on a velvety ball of spiced-infused mashed potatoes. The dish paid homage to the Japanese influences in Peruvian culinary tradition and taste-wise it was a bomb of citric umami).

PS Don’t hate me for doing this >_<

 

 

RATING: 5/5

41° EXPERIENCE

Avinguda Paral-lel, 164
08015, Barcelona
Spain

www.41grados.es