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El Bulli 2005 Dining


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. . . . The fact that he makes it look like the real deal is anecdotic, a game he plays with the people who eat there, a gimmick if you want to surprise them. This doesn’t diminish the fact that his olive tastes indeed like the essence of the olive, and I think you could have it as a shot and still be amazed by its pure taste.

. . . .

. . . .  The fact that it also looks like an olive is an extra nice touch.

. . . . The aceituna sferica is more like an archetype of an olive in that it holds the essence of deep olive flavor in a vessel that is both surprising and fun. The visual and tactile are every bit as important as taste in the cuisine of El Bulli - at least to my perception.

The spherical shape is a product of the process. His melon caviar is not imitative of melons, although they too are round, but much larger and with a rind. That he's chosen the olive may have something to do with the fact that it is round. I don't know if he could have used a pepper or an anchovy.

Robert Buxbaum

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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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. . . . The fact that he makes it look like the real deal is anecdotic, a game he plays with the people who eat there, a gimmick if you want to surprise them. This doesn’t diminish the fact that his olive tastes indeed like the essence of the olive, and I think you could have it as a shot and still be amazed by its pure taste.

. . . .

. . . .  The fact that it also looks like an olive is an extra nice touch.

. . . . The aceituna sferica is more like an archetype of an olive in that it holds the essence of deep olive flavor in a vessel that is both surprising and fun. The visual and tactile are every bit as important as taste in the cuisine of El Bulli - at least to my perception.

The spherical shape is a product of the process. His melon caviar is not imitative of melons, although they too are round, but much larger and with a rind. That he's chosen the olive may have something to do with the fact that it is round. I don't know if he could have used a pepper or an anchovy.

He did do the same thing with mozzarella di bufala. This was simply stunning. Of course, this does not disagree with your shape hypothesis. The mozzarella spheres looked just like little bocconcini and tasted like the best examples of the genre that I have had.

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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Pedro you could always post some more, personally i'm not convinced about the gaining momentum(only based on similar seasonal restaurant experience, & i'm sure the chef wouldn't want that to be the case......afterall prices do not vary from first to last diner!but it may happen)

That the chef wouldn't want that to be the case is something that I'm also sure of. That this could be, to certain extent, the case, is a different matter. We know for sure that the service improves as the season advances, until it reaches its cruiser speed.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Actually, I think you're referring to burrata, not mozzarella.

Certainly the texture is more similar to burrata, but the flavor was that of mozzarella di bufala. The name of the dish was Mozzarella Sferica. They were brought to the table in a "Mozzarella container".

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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My mistake then. I had the burrata spherica with fir honey and I assumed you had the same dish.

it would be interesting to note the differences in the dishes and fun to compare them side by side. I can dream. :biggrin:

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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Our dinner at El Bulli was a truly remarkable and amazing evening, starting with the weather, which was perfect. We arrived in Barcelona the afternoon prior to our reservation. That afternoon, the 27th of August was overcast and somewhat rainy. We were met by our friends at the Barcelona airport and whisked up to our hotel in Roses, the Almadraba Park. This hotel was nicely situated on the coast with a beautiful pool and beach. We spent a quiet evening at the hotel and then a beautiful day iat the home of Salvador Dali near Cadaques , The Cap de Creus and the pool and beach at the Almadraba before our 8:30 reservation at El Bulli.

We arrived early to take in the beauty of the drive from Roses as well as the grounds which are truly spectacular. They have been described in detail previously by others. We checked in and were immediately offered a tour of the kitchen by Luis Garcia. While there we had the opportunity to meet Ferran Adria himself. The place was humming with a quiet intensity. I felt like a kid in a candy store.

A party of six, we were led to a perfect table in an alcove set away in a corner. It sounds as if it may have been the same one that Bux described above. It was perfect for privacy as well as taking even flash photos of our meal without disturbing the other diners. Photography was not only tolerated, it seemed to be expected and almost encouraged. This sense was not from any specific statement, just that the staff appeared used to it and appeared happy to oblige my obsession.

Previous reports have mentioned starting off with the El Bulli version of a margarita. We were started instead with a “Caipirinha-nitro con concentrado de estragon”. This caipirinha sorbet was simply delightful and quite refreshing on a hot day. I wish I could easily replicate it at home, but then maybe be it is better that I cannot.

Rather than write out a blow by blow account, I will post photos of most of our courses. Out of all the preparations that we were served there were zero clunkers. Of course some were appreciated more than others, although only a couple were less than intensely interesting and intensely delicious. Particular highlights included the mozzarella sferica, which tasted just like the mozzarella di bufala I had freshly made in Paestum; sufle/coolant de maiz al maiz, which captured the essence of sweet corn flavor – one that is not commonly found in European cuisine; higado de rape en fondue con kumquat al sesamo, a first for me; and caracoles con necoras en escabeche y amaranto al hinojo. This dish deserves mention as my absolute favorite. The flavor of the crab and its liquid was exactly that of my all-time favorite comfort food dish – my mother’s blue crab tomato sauce. That was a dish that she used to make for my birthday as I was growing up. While I can make a version of this dish based upon her recipe, I can’t duplicate it exactly. What I make is good, but it is not hers. Well the flavor in this dish brought back a flood of memories. It was a perfect likeness of that flavor. I never expected to be able to experience that taste again, but there it was- extraordinary! The rest of the meal could have been terrible (it was most assuredly awesome), this one dish would have made the evening for me.

Additional standouts included espardenyes con mentaiko y rubarbo – the espardenyes were another first for me and one I had been hoping to try for quite some time – this set the bar high for future renditions; tortola con medulla de atun, enokis y salicornia – the only non-seafood “meat” of the evening; and amongst the desserts, the marvelous “dessert del desert”.

While this cuisine is somewhat difficult to pair with wine, we discovered that nothing is impossible here. Our pairings were superb. As most of our courses involved seafood, most of our wines were white. We started with a 2002 Gran Claustro Brut Nature Reserva Cava from the relatively nearby Castell de Perelada. The 2004 Pazo de Senorans albarino from the Rias Baixas was outstanding. Belondrade y Lurton 2003 verdejo from Rueda was ever reliable and the 2003 Clos d’Agon from Mas Gil in Catalunya excellent as well. Our lone red was the superb 2003 Salanques from Celler Mas Doix of the Priorato. Accompanying our desserts was the perfectly balanced syrup-like Pedro Ximenez PX Fernando de Castilla from Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla from Jerez-Manzanilla de San Lucar.

The service from our principal waiter, Felix and others was absolutely impeccable. It mixed absolute attentiveness without being in the least bit stuffy. This aspect of the meal was as remarkable as any other.

During dinner we had the pleasure of meeting the charming Juli Soler. After dinner I was able to return to the kitchen, where I was pleased to convey directly to Sr. Adria how astoundingly wonderful his dinner was. I was also pleased to be able to meet and speak with eGullet’s very own Revallo, who is completing his staige at the restaurant. He took me around the kitchen. The evening was culminated with an extended discussion in the kitchen with Oriol Castro .

One bit of news that will be music to many an eGullet ear, is that Ferran’s stated hope for a sabbatical year after the 2006 season will not likely come to pass. As of now, it appears that the restaurant will continue its schedule as before. Another bit of interesting information is that the El Bulli team is building an additional Teller at an old monastery near my friends’ hometown of Manresa.

To finish I would like to add a few thoughts on the meal. A beautiful looking or clever plate is fine, but is not sufficient to provide an outstanding restaurant experience. The food must deliver where it is not seen as well. That is both in the mouth and in the abdomen. The flavors may be intense and vivid or they may be subtle and muted, but above all they must be delicious or enjoyable. I do very much enjoy an intellectual component to my food, but I am not a masochist – especially at three star restaurant prices. The food may look like Monet, Rembrandt or Pollock put it on the plate, but if it lacks the taste and textural elements of pleasure it falls short. That being said, I don’t mind being challenged to experience new or different sensations. The amazing thing here is that they all worked on every level of enjoyment. The taste and mouthfeel of all of the dishes was at least delicious and pleasurable. A good number of them were sublime. While taste and mouthfeel are of the utmost importance to me, this combined with humor and artistic presentation makes for the ultimate in culinary enjoyment for me. The real miracle to this meal, though was that after all the food we ate, we were all comfortably full and not sickeningly bloated. The meal was choreographed by the Ballantine of chefs. I simply cannot imagine a restaurant experience to surpass this sa it was not just flawless, but incredibly creative and fun through every aspect of the meal.

The full menu:

Caipirinha-nitro con concentrado de estragon

Aceitunas sfericas

Barbapapa que se va

Marshmallow de pinones

Lazos de zanahoria, hierba luisispensiaoa, jengibre y regaliz

Oreo de oliva negra con crema doble

Macarron de parmegiano-lyo con crema de limon y fresitas-lyo

Disco de mango-lyo y aceitunas negraa

Melon cru/melon-lyo con hierbas frescas y almendras tiernas a la pimienta

Muelle de aceite de oliva virgen

Merengue seco de remolacha al kefir y caramelo Fisherman

Caramelo de aceite de calabaza

Papel passion al roquefort

Nube de palomitas

Melon con jamon 2005

Mozzarella sferica

Salicornia rebozada al azafran con emulsion de ostra

Almejas al te de alga Nori, al pomelo y sesamo negro

Brioche al vapor

Deshielo 2005

Ensala “folie”

Espuma de zanahoria/lyo-Marrakesh, espumaire de avellana

Nueces tiernas3, te ahumado y wasabi

Pequenas torrijas de parmegiano-lyo con grasa de jamon al jugo de cebolla

Papillote de tomates al mastic, estragon y sorbete de kumquat

Sufle/coulant de maiz al maiz

Higado de rape en fondue con kumquat al sesamo

Terroso

Caracoles con necoras en escabeche y amaranto al hinojo

Ventresca de caballa en escabecche de pollo con cebolla

Espardenyes con mentaiko y ruibarbo

Tortola con medulla de atun, enokis y salicornia

Marshmallow de fruta de la passion con menta fresca

Liquid de melocoton

Dessert del desert

Morphings…

Although I took a lot of photos, I had some camera battery problems and did not get good photos of all courses especially early in the meal. Around the mid portion of the meal I am having a hard time specifically naming a few courses. Any help identifying these courses will be appreciated.

Some photos:

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Cala Montjoi

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Menu Kiosk

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With Ferran Adria in his kitchen at El Bulli

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Our waiter, Felix, making the caipirinha-nitro

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tarragon concentrate for the Caipirinha

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Caipirinha-nitro at the table

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Aceitunas Sfericas. I had several.

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Barbapapa que se va

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Eating th muelle e aceite de oliva virgen

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Merengue seco de remolacha al kefir y caramelo Fisherman

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Not the greatest photo, this is the melon con jamon 2005. We were instructed to drink it slowly, but without stopping.I have video of my son drinking this. I also have video of my wife and I eating the incredible, but otherwise here unphotographed nube de palomitas.

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Mozzarella sferica

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Salicornia rebozada al azafran con emulsion de ostra.

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Almejas al te de Alga Nori, al pomelo y sesamo negro

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Brioche al vapor

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Deshielo 2005

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Ensalada “folie”

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espuma de zanahoria/lyo-Marrakesh, espumaire de avellana

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Nueces tiernas3, te ahumado y wasabi

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I can’t definitiely place this. Any help?

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Sufle/coulant de maiz al maiz

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Terroso

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Papillote de tomates al mastic, estragon y sorbete de kumquat. The sorbet was added to the pouch after the tomatoes were finished. A dish with its very own dessert!

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higado de rape en fondue con kumquat al sesamo

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Caracoles con necoras en escabeche y amaranto al hinojo. My favorite dish due to the incredible crab essence.

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Ventresca de caballa en escabeche de pollo con cebolla

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Espardenyes con mentaiko y ruibarbo. A very pleasant surprise indeed. I had very much been wanting to ttry espardenyes for quite some time.

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Tortola con medulla de atun, enokis y salicornia. Tortola is turtle dove.

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Marshmallow de fruta de la passion con menta fresca

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Liquid de melocoton

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Dessert el desert. Awesome!

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From the teppan-nittro

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A mock cherry dish.

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El toro del Bulli

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In the kitchen with Dana Revallo, Oriol Castro and Eduard Ltruch(sp?)

Edited by docsconz (log)

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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Great report--amazing how few dishes your meal had in common with ours at the end of July. Though it doesn't surprise me, given that every ingredient at El Bulli felt like it was plucked from its natural habitat at its most succulent moment.

I'll get my thoughts together soon and post, though I didn't take pictures or notes. I decided to just let the meal wash over me in waves.

Caracolines con necoras was also my favorite dish. Necora are my favorite crustaceans and this seemingly simple dish brought out their flavor perfectly.

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Doc-

Thank you for taking the time to post all these amazing pictures! Absolutly lovely.

How did your kids like the meal? If I remember correctly you had 2 teenagers with you. right?

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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Doc,

We both ate at El Bulli at about the same time but had slightly different meals. We stayed at the Almadraba Park as well and I think it may be the best value that I have stayed at taking into account the facilities and the beauty of Roses. I will try to give the dishes that we both had that were missing their name and add a couple of shots that you did not have. I would call a dinner at El Bulli,dinner theatre-award winning. I felt the craftsman there are at another level than most of the other "Molecular Gastronomists". The service was incredible, we also had Felix and his team behind him was flawless and did not miss a beat all night with 33 some courses that is fantastic. I am in awe of Mr. Garcia as he knew exactly who was dining in the restaurant that evening and the stories that went along with the reservations. I felt it like getting an audience with the "Wizard of Oz", to be able to have the opportunity to dine at El Bulli.

My first picture is taken from outside the restaurant looking through the window into the kitchen. Ferran sits at a table with notes over looking the main line and he is constantly brought things to taste. To his left is another room in the kitchen, that Picture has the Thermomixer in it and to his right is another room. I did not wish to bother Ferran as he was tasting so I did not take a photo with him.

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I have a couple of photos of the inside of the restaurant and the centerpiece on the table

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The tarragon concentrate that is delivered on the spoon for the Caipirinha-Nitro causes a numbing sensation for about a minute. My meal at Alinea ended with crispy tarragon.

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A shot at the end of the Caipirinha-nitro as the mix has frozen

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We were presented the next couple of courses at once and they were called snacks. This was the highlight of the meal for me and showed the humorous side to the dishes of El Bulli.

A shot of the Muelle de aceite de oliva virgen as it is delivered-spiral oil

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disco de mango y oliva negra

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Peanut Marshmallows

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As most of these courses were being delivered, we were laughing and gasping.

oreo de oliva negra con crema doble

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cheese popcorn

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arlette iberica

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Melon cru/melon-lyo con hierbas frescas y alemendras tiemas a la pimienta

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Merengue seco de remolacha[beetroot] al keffir y carmelo fisherman

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caramelo de aceite de calabaza-pumpkin oil caramel

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nube de palomitas-popcorn cloud-very cool

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caviar sferico de melon-with passion fruit seeds

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Brioche al vapor-steamed brioche with mozzarella and air of roses. I liked the dish minus the air of roses

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ostra con emulsion de jamon y su perla-oyster with pearl and ham consumme

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To this point in the meal we did not have anything that we did not like. I had some of the same dishes as Doc and some different, but I did not post them if I did not have a personal comment on them. The Ice 2005 and the "Crazy Salad"-we were told to eat those dishes in a particular way and I enjoyed them both.

mehillones de roca con gargillou de algas y hierbas frescas-rock mussels with seaweed. We were instructed to eat a mussel and then a piece of seaweed alternating them

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sufle/coulant de maiz al maiz-corn souffle with corn stock and clams

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Terroso-potato consumme-delicious, truffle crepe-yum, mushrooms, marshmallow, miso

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ventresca de cabala en escabeche de pollo con cebolla

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Bogavante al natural

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Morphings

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Teppan nitro-frozen cream with coffee caviar

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chocolate goodness

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Goodbye El Bulli Style-The hands are on round bowls that are dropped on the table and they wave goodbye and inside one is some candy

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Wow,

Molto E

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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Great pix. Molto. As many as I took I didn't get everything. What I didn't you did. Also thanks for supplying me with some of the names that I couldn't place with certainty. I see you don't have the name for the first morphing either! :laugh:

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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Doc and Molto, great pictures! Between the two of you, I feel like I just ate at El Bulli! Although I'm still hungry...

Anyone know when the date to make reservations for 2006 is?

I'm guessing early to mid-October again. Louisa? Revallo? Pedro? VSerna?

Some people have photographic memories and don't need photos. Even with photos my memory still suffers :raz: They do help keep the experience focused for me and this (eGullet) is a good excuse to write down some of my impressions both to share and refer to later. One of the things so great about El Bulli is how gracious they are with picture taking and how relatively inconspicuous it is at the restaurant.

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 just received issue No.39 of David Rosengarten's The Rosengarten Report in which he spends a considerable amount of print on reviewing his visit to El Bulli on April 8th.

My friends I must tell you straight off that my night at El Bulli gave me the shock of my gastronomic life: I'm embarrassed to say how wrong I was about this place when I judged it from a distance. By about 9:05 P.M. on that fateful Friday I knew, really and truly, that I was in the midst of one of the most profound restaurant experiences of my life....some day, in our collective dotage, we're going to be sitting around saying things like "did you ever get to El Bulli in the first decade of the 21st Century? Now that was something."

In addition he proposes a sample itinerary for the area. Familiar to most eGullet members would be the inclusion of Rafa's. Places unfamiliar to me include Hotel bellaterra, Cal Sagrista', Els Cacadors, Bodega El Toro, Boira and L'Hostalet de Vives.

Overall this is a very well-done review. My opinion of it is not reduced by the fact that his conclusions are very much like my own :wink::laugh:

This is avaiable only in printed form. Contact here for more info.

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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Doc,

Thanks for the photos.

How do you (and your lovely family) manage to stay so fit and trim, given your/their food passion?

Please reveal your secret, pretty please.

Henry

Who says I'm fit?

Actually, on food vacations I try to be very active.

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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Thanks Docsconz and Molto for all the amazing pics. I just caught sight of them before leaving for my trip to Spain to eat at El-Bulli actually the 14th, but didn't look at them too closely so as not to spoil the surprise. Also, I was especially grateful as I thought you two had saved me the trouble of taking any pictures. However, as it turns out, even a matter of a couple of days later much of the menu seems to have changed, but the crazy salad and the earth dish seem to be the same, along with one or two others.

Also, I was struck by the fact that even on the night different tables seemed to get different courses. For example, we got the frozen margharita to start, but the next table got the caipirinha-nitro that Docsconz described. Also, in contrast to another table we didn't get the goodbye hands - but this was hardly anything to be upset about.

Overall, despite our enormous expectations, El-Bulli far exceeded them. I was expecting more food to challenge and shock the palate without it necessarily being the sort of the thing you would be delighted to eat all night. However, as it turned out, everything was utterly sublime and it has blown all my previous (dining?)experiences out of the water. To us, it was certainly in a different league again to the Fat Duck for example. Also I have to admit that, in contrast to many previous top-end meals, there is absolutely nothing that I fancy trying my hand at.…

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Pranian Man,

'(dining?)' please expand on what this implies, & were your expectations of El Bulli consistent to expectations of other fine dining experiences? You seem to suggest that your expectations were defined by the nature of the El Bulli experience (challenging, shocking etc.) Curiosity on my part! Thanks

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. . . . .

Also, I was struck by the fact that even on the night different tables seemed to get different courses. For example, we got the frozen margharita to start, but the next table got the caipirinha-nitro that Docsconz described. Also, in contrast to another table we didn't get the goodbye hands - but this was hardly anything to be upset about.

. . . . .

As far as I'm able to ascertain, menus at elBulli don't only depend on the season, they also take you into account. That is, variables like which was the last time you dined there.

PS: I, for one, wouldn't mind to see your menu scanned and uploaded.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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It seems that every dining experience at El Bulli is somewhat unique. We didn't get the waving hands or the candies either, but then maybe we left sooner than we should have. :shock: I'd gladly be there still.

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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