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


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I like both Concepcio and Santa Caterina. San Antoni is good as well, but super crowded in it's temporary shelter - I can't wait until the renovation is done on the old building. The market in El Born should be finished soon also and that promises to be a real treat - it's going to be a huge space. La Boqueria is good as long as you know where you are going and keep an eye on the prices - the stalls in the front can charge literally double what those in the back do for basic produce. Once you develop a relationship with some of the owners, you get to know what to buy where and on what days.

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Walking around the market, the hams looked so good that Nathan declared: "Let's get 100 grams of a really good ham and eat it outside."

Max quickly took this idea down the slippery slope. He navigated us through the painstaking purchase of three types of ham and a bunch of other stuff: sopressata, idiazabal cheese, three types of almonds, strawberries, wild berries, Diet Coke. Let's eat it down by the water, he suggested.

One of these things is not like the others. :laugh:

Really enjoying your posts. I can hardly wait to hear about the "big event".

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. . . .

1. "Caramelized olive." They bring these out hanging on hooks from little trees.

2. "Campari bonbon." A solid cocktail that you pop in your mouth and it then liquifies.

3. "Anchovy bones."

4. "Chicken cracker."

5. "Ring calamari adaptation."

6. "Vegetable salad." This deconstructed riff on the awful "Russian salad" was, I thought, the best dish of the night.

7. "St. George's mushroom truffled brioche and pot au feu broth."

8. "Manzanilla-steamed oyster, iodine juice and caramelized Sherry essence." Probably my second-favorite non-dessert dish.

9. "Escalivada with anchovies and smoke of ember."

10. "Charcoal-grilled eggplant, pepper onion and tomato."

11. "Charcoal-grilled king prawn with acidulated mushroom juice."

12. "Artichoke flower, foie gras, orange and truffled oil." Come to think of it, maybe this was my favorite dish.

13. "Onion soup, Crespia walnuts and Comte cheese."

14. "Sole, olive oil and Mediterranean flavors."

15. "Baby squids with onion rocks."

16. "Red mullet with Catalan seafood stew and lard."

17. "Steak tartare: spiced tomato, caper compote, pickles and lemon, hazelnut praline, meat bearnaise sauce, Oloroso-Sherry raisin, chives, Sichuan peppercorn, Pimenton de La Vera (D.O.) smoked paprika and curry, small scoops of mustard ice cream and mustard leaves." Okay maybe this was my favorite.

18. "Lamb with mint and peas."

19. "Hare a la royale." The last savory course. I give credit for serving it looking like a dessert, to fool you into thinking you're starting the dessert phase of the meal. But I didn't love the dish.

20. "Green colorology." My other least favorite item.

21. "Sherbert lemon distillate."

22. "Caramelized apricot." Absolutely fantastic, one of the best desserts I've ever had.

23. "Milk dessert."

24. "A goal by Messi." I have some video of this for later.

25 and on. Various bonbons.

. . . .

The images are gorgeous, and a lot of them sound delicious, but what's really impressing me here is how integrated and consistent the aesthetic is.

Any idea of how that caramelized apricot was made? I keep returning to it to stare at it, and if it tastes a good as you said, the recipe would be worth having (or figuring out).

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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In case anyone is waiting with bated breath, Johnny Iuzzini just tweeted that they just passed course 40...

Fast pace! It was only a little past 10PM at that time. I wonder what number they'll finish at?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I should add, Nathan did give the Roca brothers a copy of Modernist Cuisine, which somehow I wound up hauling across the cobblestones into the kitchen.

They were thinking of you - just trying to help you establish that calorific deficit a bit quicker ! :wink:

I hope it was on wheels, otherwise, we should probably schedule your hernia surgery for shortly after your return.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I counted 49, Johnny and Nathan counted 50. Once I review the photographic record we'll know for sure. Somewhere around course 41 when they switched to desserts I was disappointed because I knew that meant the end was near. I wanted it to go on for 100 courses. That's how good it was.

I've just rolled (waddled) into the hotel and will post something shortly, though I doubt I can do a full photo-processing project tonight. I may have to do that on the plane in the morning and post when we land back in New York tomorrow morning.

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 am very happy for you. This might have been the best weekend of your life!

Don't go to extremes to satisfy us here, we will wait in patient salivation until you have time to tell us all!

Charles Milton Ling

Vienna, Austria

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It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime, few-and-far-between, peak experience. Maybe on the second notch after things like the birth of our son. But very high up.

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've been thinking of all the amazing things you ate all day, while I cleaned the garage! Even my husband, who is decidedly NOT a foodie, was speculating on what the meal would be like. And after your pictures, I think our next vacation is definitely going to be Spain...those markets look spectacular!

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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I woke up this morning thinking omigosh I'm going to Spain tomorrow. It all seems so surreal, which I guess is appropriate for a visit to Adria in the land of Dali.

Well that is what I think shall be a quote that will live on-"Adria in the land of Dali." Wonderful.

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It was more than a culinary weekend and less than the creation of a life. Somewhere in between those things. As I mentioned when I started this topic, I had made peace with never making it to elBulli. Now that I've been, I realize that I shouldn't have made peace with it. Saying that elBulli is the best restaurant I've been to fails to capture the order of magnitude that separates it from every other restaurant I've experienced.

For example, last night we dined at Can Roca, which is among the best restaurants in the world. I think the various ranking systems mostly put it in the top dozen or so. It has three Michelin stars. Those San Pellegrino/Restaurant Magazine people (actually I have been part of that process) say it's something like number four in the world. And I'll say for sure it's an absolutely first-rate Michelin three-star restaurant serving exquisite, creative, artful food in a gorgeous setting with impeccable service. Yet elBulli is so categorically better it's not even worth making comparisons. I'll try not to unload too many superlatives or say sui generis too many times, but elBulli is that and more.

For me personally, having put about a decade of my life into eGullet, with much effort being devoted to tracking the development of what we're now calling modernist cuisine (we have designated our decennial year our year of modernist cuisine), visiting elBulli represented the logical conclusion of a journey, or at least an important juncture. Visiting with Nathan M. added another dimension to the experience, since his relationship with eGullet was an important input for the development of the Modernist Cuisine treatise, which is sure to be one of the most important happenings in culinary modernism for the coming decade. He's also good company and he paid.

This is what it looks like when you drive over the mountain separating the town of Roses from the beach where elBulli is located.

P1020167.JPG

We arrived early so walked around on the beach a bit. A couple of our group waded into the Mediterranean. I did not.

P1020175.JPG

Here's our group in the obligatory pose in front of the elBulli sign. The sixth member of our group, by the way -- the guy with the hat -- was Thierry Rautureau. He's the chef from Luc and Rover's in Seattle under whom Nathan M. apprenticed back in the day.

P1020177.JPG

We started with a tour of the kitchen and a brief chat with Adria. (He is so frenetic that it was foolish to try to photograph him without flash.)

P1020179.JPG

We had our first bunch of courses on the terrace -- the weather was ideal for it -- then we had the main part of our meal at the elBulli kitchen table, then we finished back out on the terrace. There are a lot of photos to deal with here, because so many courses came in phases that required more than one shot to capture. It's also going to take time to type up the dish descriptions and make a few comments. I'll attend to it all tomorrow.

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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FG

That photo of you and the group in front of the elBulli sign should be your photo next to your posts. The smile says it all and you look like a man who enjoys what he is doing! Go ahead and use it from now on!

"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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JB, trouble is when you shrink a group shot down to eG-avatar size the details are not clear enough. Ellen has been telling me for a while that I need a new avatar photo, and has agreed to take said photo, but we were waiting for me to get a haircut. So maybe we'll attend to that soon.

I'm in the process of preparing for departure now. I'm going to meet Johnny in the lobby in about an hour and we'll travel together to the airport. If I get through check-in and security in a timely manner, and there's a wifi connection, I'll start posting elBulli dinner material.

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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Well, last night I had the pleasure of meeting Tim Ryan, Johnny, Max and Thierry. They came by my bar at closing (3am) and some of us ended up staying until 7am. Man, those guys can drink. I'm feeling it today! All raved about the food, saying basically the same thing as you Steve, that it's impossible to even compare it with any other restaurant. Let me say that it's been a while since I met a group of such genuinely nice and friendly people. Steve, it's a shame you couldn't make it, but I'm sure you feel better for it!

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Well, last night I had the pleasure of meeting Tim Ryan, Johnny, Max and Thierry. They came by my bar at closing (3am) and some of us ended up staying until 7am.

So let us in on the secre, confier, what's your balled called?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Shameless plug mode on. My bar is called Tres Flores, it's located at Correu Vell 10 in El Barrio Gotico, Barcelona, behind the post office. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 8pm. Best mojitos in town. OK, shameless plug mode off.

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JB, trouble is when you shrink a group shot down to eG-avatar size the details are not clear enough. Ellen has been telling me for a while that I need a new avatar photo, and has agreed to take said photo, but we were waiting for me to get a haircut. So maybe we'll attend to that soon.

I'm in the process of preparing for departure now. I'm going to meet Johnny in the lobby in about an hour and we'll travel together to the airport. If I get through check-in and security in a timely manner, and there's a wifi connection, I'll start posting elBulli dinner material.

Agreed on getting a new photo. The current one always reminds me of a Judy Garland album cover.

Not that you look like her, just the pose. :biggrin:

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