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My last -- and anyone's best -- shot at elBulli


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"want to go to elbulli ?"

That was the subject line of his email.

A couple of days ago, Nathan Myhrvold, the author of Modernist Cuisine who is known in these parts as "nathanm," invited me to dinner. In Spain. At elBulli. This weekend.

The proposition: if I can get to Barcelona by noon on Friday he's got a van waiting to take us (there are some other folks coming too, and I'll get to them in a subsequent post) to El Celler de can Roca on Friday night and elBulli on Saturday night.

Well, sure I want to go, but I can't. We've been renovating an apartment in Harlem and living in a temporary situation slowly losing our minds for almost a year, and our move-in date is Friday. I politely declined.

"What are you crazy?" My wife, Ellen, said when I told her about the exchange. She immediately got on the computer and emailed Nathan: My husband is not thinking straight. Let me talk to him about this and he'll get back to you in half an hour.

We can move after the weekend, she told me. You don't say no to this kind of offer.

What can I say? I have the world's greatest wife.

I got on Expedia and booked a ticket to Barcelona. I leave JFK this Thursday at 6pm and will be in Barcelona on Friday morning.

I had given up on ever getting to elBulli. This is the restaurant's final season -- soon it will end its run and be reimagined as some sort of culinary foundation (I've read several accounts, like this one and heard Ferran Adria talk about it, but I still need to clarify exactly what's happening there). Reservations are absurdly difficult to get (the number I've heard is 2 million reservation requests for 8,000 seats per year), and the one time someone I know offered me a seat a couple of years ago I just couldn't make the travel arrangements work. But thanks to the eleventh-hour intervention of Dr. Myhrvold, I'll be celebrating our Year of Modernist Cuisine in style.

Now I just need to remember where my passport is.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I had to give up my lone reservation several years ago

You are the unnamed friend who offered me the opportunity. I've been kicking myself about it for years.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Don't forget to pack your camera!

I'm planning to pack two cameras -- the one I'm going to use and one for backup. I guess there's also a third camera on my phone, which I might use for some tweeting. I only wish I didn't suck so badly as a photographer.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Forget Can Roca, go to Can Fabes.

Unfortunately, Santi Santamaria passed away not long ago. That's another experience I kick myself for missing out on. But this particular itinerary emphasizes modernism, which is not really part of the proffer at Can Fabes.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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It's nearly 12 years since I was there and I hadn't yet developed the habit of photographing the food, but here are a couple of the kitchen...

ElBulli1.JPG

ElBulli2.JPG

ElBulli3.JPG

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Cheers,

Peter.

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Will you be spending any more time in Barcelona?

My itinerary is as follows:

April 7

Depart 6:00PM New York (JFK)

Arrive 7:55AM +1 day Barcelona (BCN)

Delta Flight 94 7 Hr 55 Min (+1 day)

April 8 – 9P dinner at El Celler de can Roca

6:30P Meet in front of Hotel Palace. Driver’s name is Saskia

6:45 Depart Barcelona – drive through old town Girona

9:00 Dinner

April 9 – 7:30P dinner at El Bulli

4:45P Meet Saskia in front of Hotel Palace

5:00 Depart Barcelona

7:30 Dinner

April 10

Depart 11:20AM Barcelona (BCN)

Arrive 1:59PM New York (JFK)

Delta Flight 95 8 Hr 39 Min

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I mentioned that there will be some other people on this expedition. Out of respect for their privacy I won't release any names until I give each person the opportunity to opt out of the coverage.

One guy consented immediately, though: Johnny Iuzzini.

Johnny is executive pastry chef of Jean Georges and Nougatine here in New York City. He's also the author of the book Dessert Fourplay, so named because his desserts at Jean Georges usually arrive on four plates containing four variations on a theme (at some point I'll make Johnny tell the group the story of the aprium tasting). He's often on television, in part because he's easy on the eyes and in part because he's so talented. I don't really go in for declaring a favorite restaurant, but Jean Georges is in the core group of great restaurants I love the most. I think it provides the best value of all the NYT four-star restaurants, especially at lunch, and Johnny's desserts always leave me wanting to come back. (As an aside, the more casual dining area, Nougatine, serves the best breakfast in New York City). Johnny's website is http://johnnyiuzzini.com/ and on twitter he's http://twitter.com/johnny_iuzzini .

We're on the same flight out of JFK so I hope at least to get his feedback on the airline meal.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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God, now I'm really jealous.

You get to go with Johnny Iuzzini.

I would have done the same thing that your wife did - you get a chance like this, you take it and I am glad you are going and going to report about it.

You also need to bring something very, VERY nice back as a present for her :biggrin:

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