annotations: anthology…

elBulli

Below, you’ll find the menu and the wines we had at elBullí.  Following the list of wines, you’ll find an annotated list of our dishes.  To see all of the photos from this meal in one set, CLICK HERE.  Otherwise, click on the course titles below to see the individual photos.

*               *               *

MENU

-

1st Course
Mojito
Caipirinha sugar cane.

2nd Course
Mojito and Apple Baguette

3rd Course
Gin Fizz

4th Course
Spherical Olives

5th Course
Mimetic Peanuts

6th Course
Pistachio Ravioli

7th Course
Parmesan Porra

8th Course
Parmesan Macaron

9th Course
Gorgonzola Balloon
Nutmeg.

10th Course
Olive Oil Chip

11th Course
Flower Paper
Sichuan peppercorn.

12th Course
Boiled Shrimp

13th Course
Soy Cristal
Tamari, wasabi.

14th Course
Japanese Ravioli

15th Course
Soy Matches

16th Course
Nori Ravioli with Lemon

17th Course
Two Cooking Prawn

18th Course
Roses/Artichokes

19th Course
Ham and Ginger Canape

20th Course
Oyster and Bone Marrow Tartar

21st Course
Parmesan Frozen Air and Muesli

22nd Course
Carbonara Tagliatelle

23rd Course
Caviar Cream and Hazelnut Caviar

24th Course
Liquid Hazelnut “Porra

25th Course
Pine Nuts “Shabu Shabu

26th Course
Curry Chicken

27th Course
Mimetic Almond
Apricot.

28th Course
Cold Sea Anemone with Barnacles

29th Course
Lulo “Ceviche” and Mollusk

30th Course
Clam Ceviche

31st Course
Oaxaca “Taco

32nd Course
Gazpacho” and “Ajo Blanco

33rd Course
Shanghai Lobster

34th Course
Hare Fritter

35th Course
Game Meat Cappucino

36th Course
Blackberry Risotto and Game Meat Sauce

37th Course
Hare Ravioli with Hare Blood

38th Course
Wintry Snow with Yuzu and Sweet Green Beans

39th Course
Yuzu Nigiri

40th Course
Yogurt Blini
Honey.

41st Course
Coco de Vidre” – Crystal Cake

42nd Course
Mini Donuts

43rd Course
Frozen Sake
Black sesame, raspberry.

44th Course
The Box

-

CLICK HERE to return to the review.

*               *               *

WINES

Wines

*               *               *

The four of us managed to finish off a bottle of Champagne and two bottles of Lucien Le Moine Grand Crus.  Here they are:

Clos de la Roche, Grand Cru, Lucien Le Moine, 2005

Corton-Charlemagne, Grand Cru, Lucien le Moine, 2005

Jacques Selosse “Initial” Brut Champagne

CLICK HERE to return to the review.

*               *               *

ANNOTATIONS

38th Course: Wintry Snow with Yuzu and Sweet Green Beans

*               *               *

1st Course
Mojito
Caipirinha sugar cane.

I was dreading these little boards of sugar cane, because the last time I had these, they were awfully sweet. But, I think that’s because last time they were soaked or doused with sweetened alcohol to affect a flambe.  This time, I think it was just the natural sugarcane soaked in rum and then garnished with lime zest and mint leaf.  Sugar cane and rum, a natural pairing, worked very well.  A chewable mojito.

2nd Course
Mojito and Apple Baguette

Identical to last time.  I loved the fragrance of the apple – almost like apple blossoms – in the baguette.  My only complaint is that this is a very delicate “sandwich” that is almost impossible to eat without it falling apart.

3rd Course
Gin Fizz

This was a hot-cold juxtaposition.  The gin drink was cold.  On top was piped a warm “fizz” out of an iSi canister.

4th Course
Spherical Olives

I’ve had these before elsewhere, most recently at Jose Andres’s Bazaar in Beverly Hills. I have to say, Adria’s version is superior to others I’ve had.  He achieves a thinner alginate membrane and a better balance between the saltiness of the olive “juice” inside the sphere and the fruitiness of the olive oil.

5th Course
Mimetic Peanuts

Like peanut butter, but less sweet.  Actually, I’m not sure there was any added sugar here.

6th Course
Pistachio Ravioli

This was repeated from my first meal: just as sweet this time as before, too.  Here, I’m pretty sure there was added sugar.

7th Course
Parmesan Porra

This was repeated from my first meal. This time, I actually bothered to look inside the roll of “cellophane” to find that there was actually a porous interior, crunchy and crisp.

8th Course
Parmesan Macaron

This was repeated from my first meal: just as delicate and almost impossible to eat.  It was so soft and airy, that the macaron could barely hold its own weight.  Very strong Parmesan flavor – creamy, almost a bit too rich and strong for me.

9th Course
Gorgonzola Balloon
Nutmeg.

I had heard from others that this was one of their least favorite dishes at elBulli.  I didn’t think it was so bad – it just tasted like frozen blue cheese, creamy and cold.  The coldness numbed the flavor slightly at first, so the funkiness of the cheese didn’t fully blossom in your mouth until it melted, chased by a spicy, fragrant wave of nutmeg.  If nothing else, I found this to be a pretty great demonstration that cold dampens flavor, or, conversely, heat intensifies flavor.

10th Course
Olive Oil Chip

This was repeated from my first meal: a crisp sugar glass wafer coated in a thin sheen of fruity olive oil and some salt.

11th Course
Flower Paper
Sichuan peppercorn.

This was a pressed piece of cotton candy in which was embedded wild flowers.  Some of the flowers seemed pickled – tart and acidic – others were just grassy and floral.  As sweet as it was, the effect was like a fresh, summery day – like walking through a field, verdant and fragrant.  Or burying your face in a bedsheet that had been sun-dried.  And at the end, a surprise – the numbing spice of Sichuan pepper, which laced the cloud.

12th Course
Boiled Shrimp

Barely poached – soft, sweet, and incredibly tender, and a bit slimy, the way good sweet shrimp is when it’s raw.

13th Course
Soy Cristal
Tamari, wasabi.

I didn’t care for this course too much.  It was basically thin panes of ice with tamari and little nubs of freshly grated wasabi.  There was a textural conversation.  Was he trying to dilute the tamari and wasabi with the water?  I didn’t understand this one.

14th Course
Japanese Ravioli

Basically a spherification of miso soup. At the table, it was “painted” with tamari.  This was served room temperature.

15th Course
Soy Matches

This was repeated from my first meal: crispy, intense with soy sauce flavor, with a hint of flinty smoke with the gold leaf at the tip.

16th Course
Nori Ravioli with Lemon

I didn’t really care for this course the first time.  This time, I found the moving parts more distinguishable from each other.  It was sweet umami, with a flash of acid and a crunchy texture.  This time, I really liked it.

17th Course
Two Cooking Prawn

This was repeated from my first meal: reduction of head juice in a spoon and a flash-fried head attached to a barely cooked body.

18th Course
Roses/Artichokes

A tribute to the nearby town of Roses, this was a visually arresting plate of rose petals fanned out to make it look like a giant artichoke blossom.  This dish was served to Karen Shields as a vegetarian alternative to the dish that we got at our meal in February.  So, although I’ve seen this dish before, I didn’t taste it until this lunch.  I can’t say I loved it.  The rose petals were very silky, and mildly fragrant.  The meat jus, however, I thought was an odd pairing.

19th Course
Ham and Ginger Canape

I think this was basically hammy collagen – and perhaps some fat – sitting on a sweet, crisp, ginger chip.  Texturally, a masterful juxtaposition.  In the flavor department, I found it to be an exaggerated version of Japanese gingered pork, especially on the sweetness of the ginger chip.

20th Course
Oyster and Bone Marrow Tartar

Getting over the texture of diced fat is probably the biggest challenge this dish posed.  I liked it – warm and curried (and ever-so slightly sweet), with an oyster froth on top.  Beside the shell was an oyster leaf plant.  The coupling was obvious and very smart.

21st Course
Parmesan Frozen Air and Muesli

This arrived in a styrofoam carton.  The carton had been wrapped in a micro picture of Parmesan foam (the photographer needed to take white balance).  The wrapper (photo) was removed, rolled, and given to us as souvenirs.  The Parmesan frozen air was actually very light at the top.  As you dug down, it got denser – more like ice cream or sorbet, slightly gritty, frozen.  We were instructed to take a few bites of the Parmesan foam by itself.  And then, we were to scatter a little packet of “muesli” over the Parmesan.  The muesli contained dehydrated berries, grains and nuts.  There was certainly a salty-sweet thing going on here.  I really liked this course.

22nd Course
Carbonara Tagliatelle

Incredibly rich – an intense infusion of ham, cheese, and probably (lots of) butter.  Unmistakably carbonara.  The “tagliatelle” were translucent “gel noodles” infused with a heady dose of smokey ham.  I thought, at first, they’d taste like Parmesan.  The cheese dotted the dish in the form of little cubes.  No black pepper, if memory serves. I had something similar at l’Arnsbourg in 2005, which was, undoubtedly a derivative of this dish.  It’s strange to experience the “original” long after a derivative.

23rd Course
Caviar Cream and Hazelnut Caviar

This was repeated from my first meal. Not a hair different in my mind’s eye.

24th Course
Liquid Hazelnut “Porra

This was repeated from my first meal.  Very delicate – almost unable to hold its own weight.

25th Course
Pine Nuts “Shabu Shabu

These three translucent packets came with a bowl of clear “pine water” (it tasted just like a pine tree).  We were told to dip the packets in the pine water briefly and eat them quickly.  I think one of the packets contained pine nut oil with whole pine nuts, and the other two contained pine nut purees of some sort.  There was a whole lot of pine flavor going on in this little set.  One of the packets wasn’t very well constructed and started to leak into the pine water.  I wasn’t alone – a few others at my table had leaky packets.

26th Course
Curry Chicken

It arrived in the form of ice cream with a creamy sauce and some meaty jus drizzled, table-side. There was a gelatin of some sort underneath the ice cream – I wouldn’t be surprised if it were chicken jelly.  At first, I though the creamy white sauce was coconut milk.  But it was not.  Together, the whole had an unmistakable chicken curry flavor, though there was a slight sweetness to it all.

27th Course
Mimetic Almond
Apricot.

This was magnificent.  Some of the almonds were mimetic – a thin cocoa butter shell filled with almond puree.  Others were real – blanched and boiled to have a tender crunch.  To the side, a smoked wedge of fleshy apricot and a little compote to the side (if I’m not mistaken, it was meaty in nature).  While Adam of A Life Worth Eating claims the liquid underneath was tomato broth, I don’t recall what it was.  But I suspect he’s right.  (He also claims that the fruit was a peach, but I’m almost positive it was apricot.)

28th Course
Cold Sea Anemone with Barnacles

It tasted like the ocean.  I can’t describe it any other way – it was briny, and the barnacles were slightly sweet (and tender).

29th Course
Lulo “Ceviche” and Mollusk

This was repeated from my first meal. This South American fruit is a cross between a tomato and passionfruit – it’s pucker-tart and slightly sweet, with a fleshy structure pocketed by pulpy quadrants.  The quadrants were hollowed out.  Two of the quadrants were filled with a liquified version of taco – lime, onion, cilantro infused, magically, with the unmistakable flavor of masa.  The other two quadrants were filled with clam juice with clam meat. These two quadrants were topped with thin ice chips.  This was a punch of flavor, unmistakable in its identity and origin.

30th Course
Clam Ceviche

These were clams on the half-shell coated in a milky sauce, rife with cilantro.  I can’t say this made much of an impression on me.

31st Course
Oaxaca “Taco

This was repeated from my first meal.  This was a strange wrap.  The wrapper was made from dehydrated corn.  Inside was a wedge of creamy avocado, some grapefruit, and cilantro.  I’m not sure what a “Oaxacan taco” tastes like, so I have a poor frame or reference here.  But, I can’t say this dish made a huge impact on me.  I thought it was interesting how the grapefruit managed to meld seamlessly with the other flavors. Adam of A Life Worth Eating, who practically has a second home in Mexico, said that it was his favorite course of the meal.

32nd Course
Gazpacho” and “Ajo Blanco

This was repeated from my first meal.  As clever and delicious as ever – a tuft of gazpacho snow (made from distilled tomato water) ringed by creamy ajo blanco. Olive oil was drizzled over it all at the table, which kind of reminded me of peeing in snow.  Sorry.

33rd Course
Shanghai Lobster

This was one of the most gripping, flavorful, and lusty dishes of the forty-four.  Lobster meat came on a thick tranche of pork belly, fatty and completely melting.  The sauce was beefy, gingery, with a touch of sesame and perhaps some scallions.  Very stir-fry, very rich, very Chinese.

34th Course
Hare Fritter

This was repeated from my first meal.  I think they were slightly better this time – the fritters seemed fluffier, and the meat sauce inside seemed more rounded in flavor.

35th Course
Game Meat Cappucino

This was repeated from my first meal.  This time, it tasted much more like a cappucino than the first time, with a distinctly bitter, chocolatey depth, yet creamy, with a frothy top.  Yet, what was disturbing and wonderful at the same is that it was essentially a meat stew.

36th Course
Blackberry Risotto and Game Meat Sauce

I really didn’t care for this dish the first time I had it. But this time, the blackberry buds seemed sweeter, which helped to take my mind off the fact that it was paired with meat sauce.

37th Course
Hare Ravioli with Hare Blood

For some reason, the plate of ravioli seemed more well-made, more tight this time.  The components seemed more distinct – both the flavors and textures. I thought the ravioli dish tasted more like a proper “Bolognese” this time.  The “hare blood” tasted much more like beet juice – clean, but sweet – than before.  The “hare bood” was a touch syrupy, which makes me wonder if they had thickened it with glucose, or simple syrup?  I’m sure the answer is somewhere in one of Adria’s many books, none of which I have.

38th Course
Wintry Snow with Yuzu and Sweet Green Beans

Was this a play on Taiwanese shaved ice?  It was basically a snow cone in a bowl, with yuzu syrup and sweet “green beans” (which really looked like red azuki beans to me).

39th Course
Yuzu Nigiri

These were thin slices of mango, I think, on top of cold, airy dumplings almost identical in texture and form to the apple baguette served to us at the beginning of the meal – some kind of liquid nitrogen magic going on.  Nothing ground-breaking – just tasted like tart fruit on a cold, airy “bun.”

40th Course
Yogurt Blini
Honey.

The blini was like a fluffy pancake with a slightly crisped, golden-brown surface.  It was entirely comforting, drizzled with fragrant orange blossom honey, and hiding a pocket of tangy yogurt within.  Absolutely delicious.

41st Course
Coco de Vidre” – Crystal Cake

This was repeated from my first meal.  I loved the flavor that the pine nuts added.

42nd Course
Mini Donuts

This was repeated from my first meal, although this time, I noticed that there was no sugar added whatsoever.  I loved it – bitter, dark, dark chocolate, and incredibly fragrant from the coconut. The couverture had a wonderful snap.

43rd Course
Frozen Sake
Black sesame, raspberry.

This “frozen sake” was soft enough so that you could scoop it out – like a dense sorbet.  What I loved about it, especially, was the fragrance of the sake, a mild, mellow sweetness.  And then, coupled with mimetic raspberries – sweet-tart – and then crunchy, toasty, and sweet black sesame “clusters;” this was a great, great dish.

44th Course
The Box

This was repeated from my first meal. My favorite of all of the many chocolates inside this box was still the dehydrated strawberries coated in white chocolate.

CLICK HERE to return to the review.


One Response to “annotations: anthology…”

  1. Thank you for sharing. Jealous that I will never experience a meal there but thankful for you sharing your experience.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,934 other followers

%d bloggers like this: