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Adrià on Fast-food


pedro
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Wow! This could be earth-shattering!

Adrià is truly a great man and his tastebuds - and attitude - should be cloned. I'd read about this dream of his but I never thought he would follow through - and so rapidly.

This is the opposite of selling out, imo. There's none of that Rick Bayliss/Burger King ambiguity. It's like sharing. Humility is truly the sign of greatness. Besides, only genuinely creative and original chefs can imagine and rustle something wonderful from commonly available and cheap ingredients. Antoine Westermann told me this once and now I understand the import of what he said.

Thanks, Pedro, once again. :)

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This is very exciting. I completely agree--this is the opposite of the cynical elitism and egomania that is so rampant in the American culinary scene.

And with the low cost and availability of quality ingredients in Spain, it makes a lot of sense. Can't wait to check it out.

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I gather that he plans to open more than one of these "Fast Good" establishments? My Spanish is fairly abysmal, but that's what I was able to discern. The Fish wasn't much help.

the oil of the freidora changes to newspaper and the Macedonian gives itself with the separate syrup to preserve the texture and the flavor of the fruits during the dwell time in the exhibitor. But we go to the grain: how one eats in a Fast Good?

:laugh:

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I gather that he plans to open more than one of these "Fast Good" establishments? My Spanish is fairly abysmal, but that's what I was able to discern. The Fish wasn't much help.
the oil of the freidora changes to newspaper and the Macedonian gives itself with the separate syrup to preserve the texture and the flavor of the fruits during the dwell time in the exhibitor. But we go to the grain: how one eats in a Fast Good?

:laugh:

could someone please translate/paraphrase for the spanish-challenged?

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I'll gladly translate the article, but I believe there're some copyright issues.

Specifically, the sentence you're referring to explains that the olive oil used to fry is changed daily, and the fruit salad (Macedonia) is kept apart from the syrup until you get them, to preserve fruits' taste and flavour.

The goal that Adrià pursues is to make the same dishes that you could get in any other chain (i.e. burgers, sandwiches, salads, ...) but "better, healthier and tastier". Nice work if he can get it.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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I'll gladly translate the article, but I believe there're some copyright issues.

Specifically, the sentence you're referring to explains that the olive oil used to fry is changed daily, and the fruit salad (Macedonia) is kept apart from the syrup until you get them, to preserve fruits' taste and flavour.

The goal that Adrià pursues is to make the same dishes that you could get in any other chain (i.e. burgers, sandwiches, salads, ...) but "better, healthier and tastier". Nice work if he can get it.

Thanks, Pedro. I guessed that macedonia must be something like that - we sometimes use the French term macedoine for fruit-in-syrup. I actually quoted the babelfish translation of that portion of the article because it illustrates just how difficult machine translation can be.

I found a press release on the nh-hoteles web site - search for "Fast Good". It appears that they do indeed plan to roll out more than one of these. Unfortunately, NH doesn't have any properties in the U.S. I'd love to see first-hand Adrià's notion of good fast food.

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Ferran is full of good ideas, but they don't always pan out. With less fanfare, he's been running another experiment at another NH hotel in Madrid - Nhubes, a restaurant-reading room-TV room serving very simple Spanish cuisine (with such things as fried eggs with french fries, in olive oil) made with good ingredients. It didn't enthuse me.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Interesting name as well. To a non-anglophone the name "Fast Good" must seem like a clever riff on "Fast Food". But "food" and "good" don't rhyme, so it's not so much clever as awkward. But few of the clients will be anglophone, so no worries.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Adria is nothing if not incredibly busy. He's like the Michel Rolland of the Spanish food world (in a good way). He even took time out of his myriad projects to co-host a communal paella fundraiser for a school in Honduras last sunday at La Boqueria, which I'll write up and post photos when I have a moment - but suffice to say, of the 500+ people there, very few were foodies - and even fewer knew who he was. Most were just people walking down the Ramblas who were attracted by the prospect of all you could eat for 7 euros.

Edited by magnolia (log)
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I'll gladly translate the article, but I believe there're some copyright issues.

Specifically, the sentence you're referring to explains that the olive oil used to fry is changed daily, and the fruit salad (Macedonia) is kept apart from the syrup until you get them, to preserve fruits' taste and flavour.

The goal that Adrià pursues is to make the same dishes that you could get in any other chain (i.e. burgers, sandwiches, salads, ...) but "better, healthier and tastier". Nice work if he can get it.

pedro,

i don't believe there's any copyright issues involved if you merely paraphrase or summarize the article for us in english.

mongo

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I always thought macedoine (French) and macedonia (Italian and Spanish) meant simply fruit salad. It has to have syrup?

It's not that it has to have syrup, but when it does, it will taste fresher and less like cooked or canned fruit salad when the syrup is added at the last minute. Many fruits are not that sweet and a bit of sugar syrup or honey can make the macedoine more luscious. It's also possbible to infuse a syrup with an herbal flavor that makes the macedoine all that much more distinct from one served elsewhere by others. When Adria thinks about food, it's not unreasonable to assume he isn't thinking about what has to be done, but what he can do. That's precisely what nH Hotels are paying him to do. Think of him as a "can do," or "idea" man for nH. He's hired for his creative thinking, and if some ideas don't pan out as vserna suggests, well that's the risk of trying to be creative. Better a few ideas that don't quite work than a dull hotel chain. That for some, "dull" and "hotel chain" are synonynous is exactly what nH is trying to overcome. For some travelers, the idea of staying in a chain hotel is no more attractive than dining in a chain restaurant. I don't think the two are necessarily the same. Then again, I've eaten very well in all of Daniel Boulud's NY restaurants. Can they be considered a chain?

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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NH's tradition of having serious hotel restaurants far predates the signing of Ferran Adrià as an adviser. The restaurants at their NH Calderón in Barcelona and NH Sanvy in Madrid were already very good more than a decade ago. So it's a good match of an imaginative cook with a food-conscious hotel chain. I am just a bit doubtful if Ferran's ideas will translate into something distinctive in everyday hotel life.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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NH's tradition of having serious hotel restaurants far predates the signing of Ferran Adrià as an adviser. The restaurants at their NH Calderón in Barcelona and NH Sanvy in Madrid were already very good more than a decade ago. So it's a good match of an imaginative cook with a food-conscious hotel chain. I am just a bit doubtful if Ferran's ideas will translate into something distinctive in everyday hotel life.

Victor, you're in Madrid, right? I'd love to hear from you (or anyone else who can drop by the NH hotel in Madrid, for that matter) as to your first-hand impressions of the "Fast Good" experiment. Have any eGulleteers checked it out yet?

Ferran is full of good ideas, but they don't always pan out. With less fanfare, he's been running another experiment at another NH hotel in Madrid - Nhubes, a restaurant-reading room-TV room serving very simple Spanish cuisine (with such things as fried eggs with french fries, in olive oil) made with good ingredients. It didn't enthuse me. 

I saw the Nhubes concept written up in an in-flight magazine from one of the major U.S. airlines. (I think it was Continental). Adrià seems to be rather high-profile these days. :smile:

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I'd love to hear from you (or anyone else who can drop by the NH hotel in Madrid, for that matter) as to your first-hand impressions of the "Fast Good" experiment.

I haven't yet, but my friend and colleague Juan Manuel Bellver ('Joan Merlot'), who reviewed it for our Metrópoli supplement this week (see the link provided by Pedro), writes: "Todo razonablemente bien hecho," i.e. "Everything was reasonably well made." Since he's as much of a fan of Ferran Adrià as me (or even a little more than me), it doesn't sound like a resounding endorsement. Perhaps they need a little time to get their act together.

The NH Eurobuilding is the chain's largest hotel in Madrid by far. This ensures them a lot of activity, so they should be up and running in a few days... or else!

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Over a year ago I read about both the nhube and Fast Good concepts in an nH magazine they leave in their hotel rooms. As presented, the nhube concept sounded as if Adria was giving them ideas about how to de-formalize dining, or eating in restaurants to serve the needs of contemporary travelers. It seemed as if he was aiming for a lounge where one might eat in a relaxed atmosphere, possibly even watching television. On the one hand it sounds like everything your mother taught you not to do at the table. On the other hand it was really a 21st century approach to hospitality for transient guests, especially business people who comprise a large part of any hotel's population. The impression I had was that Adria was not involved with the particular food that would be served in these spaces.

The Fast Good however, seemed to be a place where the food would be of his design. I also sensed not so much a reaction against fast food, but against the idea that slow food and the Slow Food movement was the only alternative to fast food as we knew it. Perhaps I read more into this than Adria intended as I've found the Slow Food movement to be rather political and held hostage by different groups in different countries, each with its own agenda. Fast Good in Spain should not be seen as a very revolutionary concept. What is a tapas bar if not fast and most of the time it's pretty good. Some times it's spectacularly good.

Pret a Manger has raised the quality of fast food in England. As for Adria's food style, time will tell. Most of what Adria does at El Bulli doesn't seem suited for mass market, yet much of what he's involved in employs laboratory techniques that might well be suited for industrial processes. On this board, I've read at least one post that's accused him of making "processed" food. Part of what a creative person does is not just invent things out of thin air, but see and understand what others have traditionally done and give new meaning to that. Chefs have always processed food. What is the essence of the difference between searing steaks, marinating scallops for ceviche and slicing fish for sashimi and how does it differ from what's done in a food processing plant? What has the industrial processor lost along the way and what is he doing that's applicable to the chef?

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Chefs have always processed food. What is the essence of the difference between searing steaks, marinating scallops for ceviche and slicing fish for sashimi and how does it differ from what's done in a food processing plant? What has the industrial processor lost along the way and what is he doing that's applicable to the chef?

But the context differs, and this is far more important.

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When we spoke with Adrià in London, he emphasised the "manual" and "artisanal" nature of what he does at El Bulli. But he also emphasised that he needs other projects in order to fund El Bulli and the "R&D" programme that supports it; the restaurant, he said, barely breaks even, and of course the "Taller" has few revenues, if any.

So I wonder whether he isn't trying to live in two worlds, offering an extremely labour-intensive, small-scale, hand-crafted set of products at El Bulli, and a more mass-market, industrialised product through his catering, hotel and other ventures.

I agree with Opson about the vital importance of context. You can get edible sushi in a plastic box at Pret-a-Manager (and I do). But this isn't anything like sitting at a superb sushi bar in Kyoto and watching the chef select this piece of fish, the provenance of which he knows in detail, and slice it in this particular way. At El Bulli, I think Adrià tries to do exactly this with ingredients; of course this is impossible in a mass-produced setting. That's why I think describing El Bulli's food as "processed" is inaccurate.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Context, if not everything, is at least very important. My guess is that Adira has the ability to see across the lines that divide certain contexts. He can see a manaufacuturing process and adapt it to a artisanal craft or extract that part with can be applicable without prejudice. I fully appreciate the craft behind a meal at El Bulli. At our first meal there, a friend noted that he thought it was the most labor intensive meal he had ever had. This was in no way directed at the quality of the food and not meant to be a value judgment in regard to quality or value, although of course it easily justified the cost of the meal and made us wonder how he could even afford to serve such a meal at that cost.

As for "processed," I was only trying to defuse the connotations of the word. We all process food on the way to our mouths. In our mouths we further process it on the way to our stomachs. Nevertheless, it seems that Adria doesn't have the the same aversion most of us have to what we all regard as "processed." Klc spoke of a dish Adria made using canned corn. In his trials and errors along the way to perfecting the dish, Adria discovered that canned corn brought a better result than fresh corn and thus chose to use canned corn. For most of us, canned products are anathema. It's worth noting, particularly in a disucssion about processed food, that the Spaniards have great love for many canned and jarred products and this could explain Adria's freedom to use canned corn. It's possible Adria lives in his world, which crosses two of ours.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Been there yesterday, and eventhoug it wasn't dissapointing not worth a visit.

The place is what it says, a good quality fast food place, a cross between Pret a Manger (And it's spanish copy, Delina's) and a Burguer King. Oriented to the executives and business people who work in that area. Very modern, with screens showing Fashion TV and Travel Chanel, all very relaxing.

Good and original sandwiches, Marinated Tuna with Romescu sauce, Mozzarella and ruccola. Soup of the day, dish of the day (Yestarday fried egs and chips), and really good hamburgers, with amazing french fries made with olive oil.

Drinks like very good fresh made juices (peach and azahar) and half bottles of Cava and wine. Surprisingly good coffe.

Good if you want a fast bussines meal, but far away from Adriá's innovative food.

Rogelio Enríquez aka "Rogelio"
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Sounds fair enough and based on what Rogelio says, I would say it was successful on its own terms. I don't think Adria designed it as a destination, although many of us will make one trip out of curiosity just because of its Adria connection.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I agree with you, Bux. After reading Rogelio's description, I thought I should give it a try. Nevertheless, I believe it'd be probably more interesting to someone with deep restaurants' operations knowledge, to assess how replicable the concept is in a much larger scale (which is the point of fast food businesses).

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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  • 3 weeks later...

I finally went to Fast Good. I had an advance of what they serve since Rogelio brought some sandwiches from Fast Good last Thursday. They were very good compared to similar offerings available (Mallorca, Rodilla).

So, today, returning to the office, I drop by Fast Good. My surprise was that Adrià himself was there being interviewed by a TV station. I bought gazpacho, quite good but with slightly more vinegar than needed, a salad of vegetables, red fruits and parmesan (again, more parmesan than needed) and a couple of sandwiches: marinated tuna with romescu sauce, mozzarella with dried pepperoni and ruccola (I guess). The sandwiches were the best part of the meal, followed by the gazpacho.

The bill, 9.85€. Not a bad deal.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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