Dinner at El Bulli was like a dream come true and I am not exaggerating. How did I manage to get a reservation when there are only 8000 places available per year versus to one million ( or two million according to some sources) requests? Well, I didn’t. I’ve never been lucky in lotteries. One day I got an email from a friend who said she had a reservation and we finally went to El Bulli together. That day I started believing in Santa Claus again. You don’t get invitations to go to Ferran Adrià’s restaurant every day, do you?
Even if I call the dinner at El Bulli “a dinner”, it was not really a dinner but an experience of new textures, forms, structures and tastes. Adrià is pushing the boundaries of cooking using innovative techniques and creating surprising mixtures of surprising products. Not everything was tasting good (some dishes were even strange) and maybe only half (or one third to be fair)of the nearly 40 dishes were really exciting, but the overall experience was something I will remember all my life. What Ferran Adrià and his team are doing is unique and I am sure one day he will be remembered among the biggest artists of the 21st century.
Here are all the dishes that night. My apologies if I can’t describe all of them – 38 is a lot to remember…
1.The very first amuse bouche was a frozen ( and I am sure it was deconstructed) strawberry, but I didn’t take its picture.
2. Mojito and apple flute. Looks like a sandwich, but tastes like a mojito. Adrià is a master of illusion.
3. Almond fizz with amarena. This time the cocktail had a conventional form. Milky almond liquid was fizzy and sour. Can’t say that it was my favourite discovery of a new taste.
4. Nori seaweed with lemon. Crispy seaweed chips with lemon inside. Something very new and amazing at the same time.
5. Gorgonzola globe and cherry umeboshi. Umeboshi is a Japanese pickled fruit. You had to break the gorgonzola globe with fingers and eat it with the cherries umeboshi. The globe looked spectacular but tasted exactly like gorgonzola cheese.
After 12 pm. This is how the world’s most wanted tables look like.
6. Can’t remember exactly what was in this picture.
7. Spherical olives. The classics of El Bulli. They are created using a spherification technique that is a process of shaping liquids into spherical forms. No need to say that the olives tasted like real olives.
8. Mimetic peanuts. I think they were created using the same technique as for the olives. Really loved them.
9. Shrimps omelette. It was served in two servings.
10. Sugar cane
11. Coconut sponge- cake. It had a mild coconut milk taste, I loved the texture.
12. Tea biscuit. It was frozen. The pure green tea taste was very strong and maybe too pure for me.
13. Roses with ham won- ton and melon water. Chinese ravioli made of roses and warm ham jelly. It was delicious.
14. Ham and ginger canapée. Absolutely loved it .
My friend is vegetarian and she had a truffle sandwich instead. I was a little jealous 😉
15.Oysters and bone marrow tartar. Very good.
16. Caviar cream with hazelnut caviar. Real beluga caviar versus fake hazelnut caviar. Exceptional.
17. Boiled shrimps. No magic here- it was just a slightly cooked shrimp. It was good to chew something though. When almost all the dinner is made of liquid ( even if it is often “spherificated”), creamy or melting things, you do realize the pleasure of chewing your food.
18. Prawn two firings.
19. Parmegiano ice cream with modena, basil and strawberry.
20. Pine nuts shabu- shabu. The whole interest of the dish was in its form and the presentation.
21. Soy ” flan”. Delicate cream with soy sauce.
22. Marrow and belly of tuna sushi. For me, it was the most regrettable dish as the fatty tuna was served hot. Because of the heat, it lost its wonderful taste.
A piece of dried (? ) tuna. It looked like wood. It was brought to the table and then taken away. I am sure there was some hidden idea behind all this that i obviously didn’t get.
23. Tiramisu . Again, Japanese inspired.
24. Miso soup. The white snow on the right was made of sake.
25. Clams “ceviche” and kalanchoe cactus.
26. “Ceviche” and clams cocktail.
27. Oaxaca “taco”
28. Anemone cold omelette. Anemone is a sea animal, I didn’t like its taste at all.
27. “Gazpacho” and “ajo blanco” . A deconstruction of “ajo blanco”, classical Spanish cold soup made of almonds and garlic. One of my favorite dishes that evening.
28. Abalone with Iberian ham fat. Interesting presentation but didn’t find it very exciting taste wise.
29. Pork nem- Thai. It was very good.
30. Hot strawberries with hare soup and fame meet canapée. The only dish that I didn’t try as I don’t eat hares ( and their cousins rabbits) or game. I found the concept of the dish very ironic and even shocking. The idea of cute fluffy hare ending up in a beautiful wild strawberries soup made me think of how we treat our food in general.
31. Parmegiano “macaron”. The cheese part of the dinner.
32. Gorgonzola bonbon with fresh walnuts canapée. Another “cheese” dish.The gorgonzola bonbon was very bitter.
33. Pond. As beautiful as delicious.
34. Sugar cube with tea and lime. You had to put the liquid from the dropper on a “sugar” cube.
35. Mile-feuilles of pineapple.
36. Apple rose. Pretty and refreshing.
37. Molluscs. They were filled with chocolate cream.
38. Box. Box with various forms and colors chocolate.