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Posts posted by AlexForbes

  1. As for a name for the movement, did he ever actually suggest one? One that has been bandied about here and I have started using is "hypermodern". Other possibilities, especially with the manifesto could include "Ferranism" or Adriism".

    I myself have been calling it Ferranism for a couple of years, which I think is the term that best describes the movement. But to answer your question, I will once again quote Ferran: "Manifesto in hand, we contacted some friends that have followed our work for a longe time (Bob Noto, Toni Massanés, Jaume Coll, Pau Arenós among others), and each suggested names that, at this time, can serve to start up a debate: postmodern cuisine, transvanguardista cuisine, reformist cuisine, logical cuisine, evolutionist cuisine, etc. In the other hand, there are those who sugget that the most appropriate name is the one coined by the New York Times in 2003 when it published its 14-page story on Spanish gastronomy: "New nouvelle cuisine".

    I still prefer Ferranism. :)

  2. I just got back from the Madrid Fusión. Many of the greatest were there. The Americans Thomas Keller and Charlie Trotter and the Spanish Juan Mari Arzak and Martin Berasateguí, among many other star chefs, gathered in Madrid last week to talk food. But the biggest star of all at the fourth annual Madrid Fusión, widely regarded as the world’s most important gastronomic forum, was Ferrán Adrià, chef-owner of El Bulli restaurant, who has done for haute cuisine what the iPod did for music fans: nothing short of triggering a revolution. Adrià’s signature (and now ubiquitous) savoury foams are only one of numerous inventions (think liquid ravioli, powdered foie gras, edibles “papers” and “airs”), many copied all over the foodie world, which have changed the way we look at haute cuisine. Today, a many years after he began whipping potato foam out of pressurized canisters, his followers have spread his gospel of science-inspired, defiant, playful food, from New York to São Paulo, from Chicago to Lima.

    The breadth and ever-growing relevance of Adrià-style inventive cuisine, typically a succession of small servings of interestingly textured concoctions, some kookier than others, has snowballed in recent years, achieving the status of a true revolution. Some of today’s best chefs, like England’s Heston Blumenthal and the American Grant Achatz, are not only converts, but are actually pushing the style in their own different directions. Yet this movement still has no name. The American specialized press recently started calling it “molecular gastronomy”, a term coined in the eighties by Nicholas Kurti, a gastro-scientist at Oxford University. But alas, the name hasn’t stuck.

    In his opening-day presentation at the Madrid Fusión, Adrià challenged the crowd to come up with a term for the food revolution which he personifies and leads. In the audience, Trotter, Keller and Homaru Cantu (a Chicago-based prodigy), among many other chefs, listened attentively.

    Adrià scoffed at the term “molecular gastronomy”: “Not only does that make food sound unnapetizing, but it only refers to one aspect of what we are doing at El Bulli today”. He then unveiled a 23-point manifesto defining more clearly what this movement is about (or rather, what El Bulli’s food is about). He conceded that “… the collaboration with experts from different fields, (like) industrial design and science, is primordial”, but refused having himself or his followers pigeonholed as “mad scientists of the kitchen”.

    To demonstrate that Ferranism goes much beyond experiments in a lab, he stated, for instance, that “cooking is a language through which one can express harmony, creativity, happiness, beauty, poetry, complexity, magic, humour, provocation”. The manifesto also underlined the importance of team work in dish creation, the predominance of fish and vegetables over red meat, small over large portions, fast versus slow cooking times and new flavours of milks (of nuts) and distillations (of earth or fruits) over classical broths.

    Here are all 23 points of Ferran's manifesto:

    1- Cooking is a language through which one can express harmony, creativity, happiness, beauty, poetry, complexity, magic, humour, provocation.

    2- One may assume that only top-quality products will be used and that the techniques used to prepare dishes will be well-mastered.

    3- All products have the same gastronomic worth, regardless of price.

    4- We prefer to cook with vegetables and seafood. Dairy also predominates, as well as dried fruits and other products that amount to a light cuisine. We rarely cook large cuts of red meat or whole birds.

    5- Even if the characteristics of products are changed (temperature, texture, shape, etc.), the goal is to preserve its original flavour, except when slow-cooking or when searching for the matrix resulting from reactions such as Maillard’s.

    6- Cooking methods, both classical and modern, are a heritage that the cook must utilize to the maximum extent.

    7- As happened throughout the past in other fields of human knowledge, new technologies support the progress of gastronomy.

    8- The family of fonds is expanding, and alongside the classic ones we use lighter broths (flavoured waters, consimmés, clarified vegetable juices, milks of dried fruits or nuts) in similar ways.

    9- The information that is on a plate is enjoyed through all senses, and also through reflexion.

    10- The stimuli of the senses are not only taste-related: we can also play with the senses of touch (contrast of temperatures and textures), smell, sight (colours, shapes, illusionisms, etc), so that the senses become one of our points of reference when we create dishes.

    11- The techno-conceptual search is one of the cornerstones of the creative pyramid.

    12- We create as a team.

    13- The boundary separating savoury and sweet is blurred. There’s a rise in the importance of savoury ice creams and cold food in general.

    14- The classical structure of dishes is being ruptured. There is a revolution in the appetizers and desserts, in the sense that they have become symbiotic, while the appetizer - main course – dessert hierarchy is broken.

    15- A new way of presenting food is gaining strength.

    16- A chef’s cooking style is linked to his feelings towards his surroundings.

    17- The products and preparations from other countries are submitted to our cuisine’s own criteria.

    18- There are two main ways to reach harmony between products and flavours: through memory (deconstructing, links to the autonomous cook, adaptation, previous modern recipes), or through new combinations.

    19- Our food is connected to the world and the language of the arts.

    20- Recipes are conceived to be served in small portions.

    21- Taking a dish out of context, or using irony, performance or spectacle is perfectly acceptable, as long as this is not done in a superficial way, and so that there is a link with gastronomic reflexion.

    22- The tasting menu is how we express our avant-garde cuisine. Its structure is alive, and is subject to change. We are betting on concepts such as snacks, tapas, morphings, etc.

    23- The knowledge and/or the collaboration with experts from different fields (gastronomic culture, history, industrial design, science) is primordial in our evolution.

  3. Couldn't agree with you more, Tom - Toque would never get a Michelin star.

    Hate the new business-loungey room, and the snooty waiters, and

    the Startrek uniforms. The stark table settings seem chilling to me -

    how about some flowers and a cover plate?

    But above all, I find the food irregular and


    Yes, Masa's better. So is Per Se, and Bernardin, and Jean-georges,

    and sooo many of the great NY restaurants. We just don't have anything

    at that level in Mtl or Toronto.

    As for my favourite near the CN Tower, I must say it's Canoe. Sweeping

    views, outstanding service, beautiful, colourful presentations,

    fresh Canadian-inspired dishes, never too inventive.

    Went to The Fifth last week and was sorely disappointed. Place was so

    dark I couldn't see what I was eating. Waiter mistakingly said the fish

    of the day came from Saskatchewan (!!!). Palate cleanser was a

    guava sorbet - talk about a non-palate cleanser! Tasty as dessert,

    but not between apps and mains.

    Amouse bouche was made with tough, overcooked beef.

    Nice atmosphere, though... ;)

  4. I just got back from Paris. Had dinner at Senderens one night, then lunch another day, then a second lunch at its upstairs bar.

    Food and wine pairings are impeccable. I did not mind portion sizes, and was impressed by the delicate and elaborate presentations, with a drizzle of foamy sauce here, two tiny chervil leaves there, either on large round plates with leather-textured edges or black rectangular ones. One high point was the tiny calamari (chipirons) done on the grill, its tentacles deep-fried to a crisp, the flesh lustrous and tender, arranged as a colourful canvas, with small pieces of artichoke hearts and tomatoes confit. It went beautifully well with the Manzanilla El Rocio sherry that the menu suggested as pairing.

    Also loved the silky veal tartare with 3 small parmesan shavings, and surrounded by pleasantly slippery rice vermicelli. Unusual yet delicious pairing, made even more interesting by the Pouilly Fuissée Les Crays it was served with.

    Chocolate coulant was close to pure melted chocolate, and served with dark pieces of cherry - an odd pairing, and a bit heavy. I preferred the more classic vanilla milles-feuilles, served with a luscious Muscat de Rivesaltes from Domaine Cazes.

    The upstairs bar has a small menu of assorted "sushi and sashimi" - not at all sushi and sashimi, but good - and tapas (small, but interesting). No need to reserve to go there. Excellent barman, excellent service throughout. When I lunched there, chef Senderens came in an out several times - I think his office is adjacent to the bar, in fact.

    If I knew how, I'd post some of my pics....

  5. Well, I had dinner there on Saturday and loved it. Veal tongue in superthin slices, mounted like a terrine, then served as a tall slice, with lentils and drizzle of creamy horseradish sauce. Splendid tête de veau with boiled potatoes and chopped hard-boiled eggs, pleasantly tart, also great. Gigantic chocolate mousse, more than enough for two, dense and classic-tasting. Tarte tatin, ruby coloured on top but not quite caramelized, served in big wedges with cream (or ice cream if you ask). Fourteen choices on the cheese board, matured to perfection.

    Mr. Ducasse has kept everything almost the same, but now they have a well-groomed and polished maitre'd that came from a Relais&Chateaux in Champagne. American couple dining next to me complained that they used to wheel out samples of all appetizers and give regulars little tastes, but that doesn't happen anymore. Still, if you ask, they will gladly show you the paté en croute and some of the other apps.

    Not much to complain about...

  6. I am a Brazilian food writer and I am off to Paris on Wednesday to write a feature story on l'Ami Louis, coincidently. In fact, I am trying to find out more about its history, owners and chefs, and any help would be greatly appreciated.


    Alexandra Forbes


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