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


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Simply speechless. How long did the dinner last? Was there one ethereal moment of the night?

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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Was the "Thrush" actually the small bird known as the thrush? Did they de-bone the little creature?

It was indeed the thrush. Partly deboned (the main leg bone was still in).

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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Simply speechless. How long did the dinner last? Was there one ethereal moment of the night?

It was about 5 hours. The caviar/hazelnut course was probably the peak moment for me.

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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Besides Nathanm, had anyone else dined at elBulli or in Barcelona (you infered that Johnny was familiar with the city)?

Johnny posted on his site earlier in the week that he's dined at El Cellar de Can Roca once before and at El bulli in 2009 and 2010.

Edit: Overlooked the "FG" part of the post, shouldn't have answered for him. Sorry about that.

Edited by Tri2Cook (log)

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Looks like a wonderful meal, Steven. And the company must have helped, with insights from Nathan and Chris on 'how did they do that?'.

Your comments on service and timing confirm the experience we had in 2009 was unusual - very cold with big gaps. It tainted the experience (30th wedding anniversary), but we still think fondly of the setting of the restaurant, the first few courses on the terrace and several standout dishes (one of which was Prawn Two Firings, which seems to have split into two courses - we had spoonsful of a prawn-head liquor as part of the dish). And unfondly of something called 'Water Lily' which tasted the way two-week-old water in a flower vase smells! It wasn't the best restaurant in the world that night, unfortunately.

Somebody's misled you about the truffles - they were certainly there two years ago. Tasteless, but there in big slices on a pumpkin foam 'sandwich'.

Welcome back - now get some sleep!

Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

eGullet Ethics Code signatory

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A million thanks for documenting the trip in such amazing detail. I have to say I'm feeling a bit torn between awe and sorrow because I know I'll never experience the wonders of elBulli personally. The markets alone look like they're worth the trip to Spain, utterly amazing.


I have simple tastes. I am always satisfied with the best - Oscar Wilde

The Easy Bohemian

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JB: Half of the group had been to elBulli before, half had not. Nathan M. had been many times, Johnny had been three times, and Max had been once. Ted, Thierry and I were first timers. I guess we were all last timers.

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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Absolutely fantastic FG, I'm completely jealous. I had a very enjoyable meal there in 2006 but to be honest this seems to be streets ahead. Your meal appears to have had far more "substance" than I experienced, and I would have loved something like those prawn and game dishes.

I know that mixture of euphoria and sorrow you're talking about, in truth I'm feeling a touch of it right now just looking at those photos.

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We also had these wines with our meal at elBulli. The Terreus Pago de Cueva Baja, in particular, was exceptional.

Celler Battle Brut Gran Reserva 2000

Gramona @ Cava-Penedes (D.O.)

Do Ferreiro Cepas Vellas 2009

Gerardo Mendez Lazaro @ Rias Baixas (D.O.)

AN Son Negre 2004

AN Negra Viticultors @ Illes Balears (Vi de la Terra)

Terreus Pago de Cueva Baja 2001

Bodegas Mauro @ Castilla y Leon (Vino de la Tierra)

Manuel Raventos Brut Nature Gran Reserva Personal 2002

Raventos i Blanc @ Cava-Penedes (D.O.)

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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The creativity at elBulli really is mind boggling... there's not a single element that was on our menu in 2006. So many things I'd love to try, although I have very fond memories of our meal. It really is hard to believe that elBulli is closing, I had always hoped that I would get back some day.

Enjoyed the comment about Adria channelling Santamaria on one of the dishes... and no one else agreeing :laugh:. And on the wine tour in Can Rocca, I'm with you on that one, I wasn't mad about the music element either. BTW, do you know what lens Nathan uses... looks seriously impressive (no surprises there).

Fantastic report FG, thank you so much.

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Nathan was actually rolling with a couple of different L-series Canon lenses. I never checked which.

Posted from my handheld using the Tapatalk app. Want to use eG Forums on your iPhone, Android or Blackberry? Get started at http://egullet.org/tapatalk

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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People not meeting that criteria is very --even by elBulli's terms-- unlikely that would have gotten a table this last season. Usual meals at elBulli --I know that's a contradiction-- fare in the high thirties, low forties. But this being their farewell season Adria's stated goal is that everyone who makes it there leaves with the feeling "this is my best/uniquest elBulli's meal ever". And they manage to achieve it.

PS: I kind of remember the hare blood not having blood at all but some sort of elaborate hibiscus juice. I may be wrong.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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28. “Germinated pine nuts.” In other words the hearts of pine nuts. To say this must be a labor-intensive dish seems like an understatement. They also presented a couple of in-progress specimens to illustrate.

P1020308.JPG

P1020310.JPG

I just cannot stop thinking how crazy it is to make this dish! To pick through each pine nut and "peel" it must've been mind numbing. How was the end result? Were those marinated in something? You had 50 courses in that amazing meal and I cannot stop thinking of pinenuts...

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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OK, so now I have to keep FG honest by relating two of his classic comments during the meal.

We were all mesmerized by the black truffle series. After the braised/raw endive dish (which arrive in transparent packages "en papillote"), there was a pause in the conversation. FG broke the silence with a profound observation "I think that the black truffle really helped that dish".

Reallly? The endive wasn't enough by itself? The rest of us didn't know whether to laugh, or quietly tell the server to stop pouring him wine.

But the classic of the whole evening is when we went back out on the terrace to have petit fours. Thierry Rataureau turnes to FG and says "So, Steven what do you think?" It was Thierry's first time at elBulli and he was contemplating the meal.

FG, who had noticed how little light there was on the terrace turned and said "I think I'm going to need flash".

That's the kind of deep culinary insight that we've all come to expect from him :smile:

A great time was had by all of it - it was a great group, and a great meal. It is also the end of a era, which made us all a bit sad, but also happy that we had been there to partake in it.

Edited by nathanm (log)

Nathan

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A great time was had by all of it - it was a great group, and a great meal. It is also the end of a era, which made us all a bit sad, but also happy that we had been there to partake in it.

Doubly sad for those of us who never made it there. I found eGullet about eight years ago doing a Google search for "el bulli". I always dreamed of going there, but now I'll have to dream of something else in its place...

This has been a bittersweet "trip" for me, enjoying the dinner vicariously. I'm looking forward to seeing more photos and comments from you and from Johnny, who promised to upload pics to his blog.

Thanks for sharing the experience!

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Thanks for sharing the experience!

That sums it up for me.

This sortie feels like the culinary equivalent of catching the Beatles together for the last time ever, on that 1970 London studio rooftop.

Thank you.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Last night, just before I went to bed, I thought "I can't believe that, yesterday, I was in Spain." I had a very long day. We closed on our new apartment and did the majority of our packing. We also cleaned the new place in preparation for today's move, and for good measure we drove the minivan over to our friend Shelley's place to pick up her former (and our new) dining-room table. So if I was a little scarce around here yesterday, and if I am for the next couple of days, it's because I'm in moving mode and a bit preoccupied.

As I waited to be picked up at JFK, I felt I might need to do the culinary equivalent of "never washing this hand again" after meeting some great figure. Surely anything I were to eat after that meal at elBulli would defile my body. For that reason I skipped the four-cheese pizza served on the plane.

Since never eating again wasn't a serious option, I decided to go for something totally off-axis from what I'd experienced in Spain: dinner at Sripraphai, a Thai restaurant in Queens. The drunken noodles really hit the spot, and somehow the timing worked out such that we got a parking space afterward.

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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Hmmm, the night after el Bulli I ate at a restaurant in Roses, had some bad clams, and spent a couple of days with the worst food poisoning of my life. Drunken noodles would have been a much better choice!

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