Home Cooked

Homemade: Chicken rice, reimagined

Image

Something a little closer to home. Not a deconstruction per se, but a familiar dish, re-imagined. 

First, a chicken stock is made by pressure cooking chicken bones. It is then reduced until it tastes very close to the soup that you usually get when you order chicken rice(sans the MSG).

The broth is split into two batches, the first gets tossed with rice krispies. They crackle and pop, and soak up whatever liquid you toss them in; in my case, they take on chicken flavor. They are put into a dehydrator and dehydrated at 40C until crisp again. They take on a darker, browner color from the heat and the color of the stock. They have the flavor of chicken, but the flavor is faint. I re-introduce the same chicken broth into the rice krispies, then dehydrate them again as before. The flavor intensifies. The whole process is repeated a total of 5 times until you end up with chicken rice krispies.

The other half of the broth is further reduced until the flavor is intense, pounded garlic and ginger is added to the broth and allowed to infuse. Chicken breast is placed into a bag with this intense broth, then cooked sous vide at 61C. The breast is removed and chilled.

The dish is completed by tossing the chicken rice krispies with rendered chicken fat, this makes it easier to press it onto the chicken breast. The breast is placed in an oven to bake till the rice toasts slightly and becomes extra crisp. It is served on lines of traditional chicken rice chilli sauce and a ginger-garlic paste. It seems unusual, but when you eat a bite of all components, it tastes exactly kind chicken rice, and yet… it is not.

Advertisements
Los Angeles

The Bazaar at SLS by Jose Andres, Los Angeles

Philly Cheese Steak

Air bread, cheddar, Wagyubeef

Jose Andres apparently angered many people with his over the top rendition of a traditional Philly Cheese steak. Its a piece of lightly seared beef topped with chives, served atop a dubious looking ‘Air bread’- shaped like a football, crisp on the outside but completely hollow on the inside, and liquid cheddar cheese pumped in to fill the hollow center of the ‘Air bread’, this was a 2-bite, maximum impact dish that gave you mouth-gasms, and sent your tastebuds into a fit with a sudden jolt of incredibly strong flavours and contrasting textures. Why o why wasn’t there more on the plate, I could have had 10 of these as a starter. Very Good

California Cone

Guacamole with tomato hearts

I dont really have a thing for tomatoes, and the part of the tomato I hate the most is probably the seeds, so I was prepared to hate this dish before I even put it into my mouth, but boy was I surprised. The tomato hearts were surprisingly refreshing and, wait for it….. DIDNT SUCK. In fact, they were pretty good, the seeds had a gelatinous cool gelatinous coating, and the seeds had a nice crunch to them, the softness of the guac and the crispness of the cone played really well together. This doesn’t have anything on Keller’s coronets, but it was good.

Foie Gras Sandwich

Quince, Brioche

A nice block of creamy, melt in your mouth foie, a quick burst of sweet quince jam, stuck between two perfect, PERFECT broiche buns, and everyone knows broiche is king of the breads, RIGHT? It worked on paper and it was executed perfectly. Very Good

Sea Urchin buns

Avocado, Steamed buns

I love Uni, its one of my favourite ingredients and it isn’t nearly used as much as I would like, so I try to order it as often as I can if its on the menu. The uni used for the bun was very fresh, thats the good. The bad was that the type of bun used was the wrong choice. It was far too chewy to support delicate ingredients like avocado and uni, by the time you were actually done chewing, the uni and avocado was long gone. Okay

Croquetasde Pollo
Chicken and béchamel fritters

This was one of the more famous dishes at the bazaar. Its simple- shredded chicken, bechamel sauce, made into a croquete. The result? A crisp exterior, and a creamy, rich interior. The contrasts of textures was amazing, but I felt that the bechamel completely overpowered any chicken shreds, and there was barely a hint of chicken flavour at the end. Good

Sauteed Shrimp

Garlic, guindilla pepper

I didnt have much of this, but I felt that the shrimp was a little overcooked for my liking. Seasoning was on point though. Okay

Eggs Benedict ‘New Way’

Iberico Ham

Sous Vide egg, regular Iberico jamon, crisped Iberico jamon, hollandaise foam, and broiche. Holy cow, this was my dream come true on a plate. Sous vide egg was good, creamy(though its kinda hard to screw up a sous vide egg), jamon was very very good, and I loved the dehydrated version as well, just as flavourful in a crisp form. The only problem I had with the dish was, there was not enough hollandaise foam on the plate, and whatever was on the plate, wasn’t intensely flavoured enough. Every component worked on its own, but when you ate it together, the dish relyed heavily on the iberico jamon for flavour, theres nothing wrong with that, but that isn’t what an eggs benedict should be. Good

Rossejat

Paella-style pasta, shrimp

Almost everyone at the table shrieked:  FRIED BEE HOON the moment this arrived at our table. As far as I know, this is more commonly known in Spain as Fideua. “Noodles are fried in oil before adding fish broth – a very special technique that may only be found in Italy or China; noodles get a tan golden color or even dark, since they are fine noodles (hair of angel), when coming off dry, they get erected (they “have” an erection).” This is a whole new meaning to food porn. Whats amazing about this dish is the amount of flavour that was incorporated into the noodles, its deceptively simple yet it tasted divine. I cannot imagine how good the seafood broth used in the dish must have been. Very Good

Chocolate Mousse and Apple sorbet

The chocolate mousse was actually very very light and easy to eat, chocolate used was also bitter enough to balance the sweetness of the sorbet. Good

Watermelon Tomato Skewers

Pedro Ximénez reduction, cherry tomatoes

I couldnt taste the wine reduction, and Im not crazy about tomatoes, especially the seeds; but when eaten together with an extremely large chuck of deliciously sweet and juicy watermelon, it was delicious. Great refreshing way to start the meal

Apples “Carlota”

Bread pudding with saffron sauce

The ice cream is milk ice cream, and this is actually supposed to be a deconstructed apple pie. “Carlota” is actually the name of Jose Andres’s daughter who loved this dish. I didn’t particularly get the ‘deconstructed’ aspect of the dish, it seemed like the sauce and the pie were separate, but was this really a ‘deconstruction’? , however, everything tasted very good, both individually, and eaten together. Good

Creamy Chocolate Heart

Coffee and cardamom

Basically a molten chocolate cake, good but not great. The white bed that the cake is sitting on is a cardamom foam that had a surprising amount of body to it(for a foam). Im pretty sure Marcel from Top chef had something to do with this because I saw him coming in and out of the kitchen, seeing as to how he loves foams and all that. Okay

Braised Veal Cheeks
California oranges

Cheeks were very tasty, and soft to the point where running your fork through them completely took it apart, meat was somewhat stringy consistency, but it also had a good amount of fat that made sure it didnt try out, very satisfying dish. And the 3 tiny slices of orange were incredibly sweet and fresh, I wish there were more.  Good

Bonus Shot of the restroom at the SLS Hotel. Redonkulous

Jose Andres worked at El Bulli and trained under Ferran Adria for many years, hes considered the main guy who brought molecular gastronomy tapas style food to America. Clearly, many of the dishes I had during my 2 visits to the Bazaar are very avant garde, but Andres has also shown that the food can be innovative and new, but at the same time, very, very delicious.

Chicago

L2O, Chicago

Update: As of 19 November 2010, L2O, along with Alinea in Chicago, have been awarded 3 Michelin Stars

 

I recently visited Chicago(Note: I do not blog in chronological order) which (I assumed would) give me an opportunity to try Alinea, unfortunately, it was closed on all the days that I was there. So began the look for an alternative, and I finally decided on L2O. Reservations were simple enough, made on opentable, no problems whatsoever, probably because this was on Christmas eve at 6pm. Nonetheless

_dsc1869-as-smart-object-1_dsc1831-as-smart-object-1_dsc1830-as-smart-object-1_dsc1829-as-smart-object-1_dsc1836-as-smart-object-1

Upon entering L2O, which can be extremely hard to find if you don’t know what you are looking for, we were greeted by 2 members of staff wearing Japanese Komonos, which really confused me because it wasent a Japanese restaurant and everyone else was in a suit. Possible geisha services for ballers?

The menu: You are  given a choice of either a 12-course tasting menu($165) or a 4-course prix fixe menu ($110) where you choose 3 dishes from the following categories: Raw, Warm, and Main. Both my mum and I chose the prix fixe

Amuse 1: Gruyère cheese puffs

_dsc1834-as-smart-object-11

Cheese puffs were surprisingly light, crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside. Nice

Amuse 2: Tuna

_dsc1840-as-smart-object-1

This was actually a combination of tuna, orange gelée, tomato, olive oil foam. I think it was supposed to be a ceviche-like appitizer. It wasen’t particularly good, but it was pretty refreshing. And god damn, only the french can make jelly sound so pompous.

Bread Service

_dsc1838-as-smart-object-1_dsc1839-as-smart-object-1

Bread was outrageously good. Favourites by far were the Bacon Mustard Seed Bread, which had a nice chunky cube of bacon in the center of a dome shaped piece of bread, and the Anchovy-Basil Broiche. Bread was served with a housemade butter in a gratuitously-futuristic container.

Raw Set A: Shimaji, Red Miso, Radish, Soy Salt

_21

This was my raw course. Fish was very fresh, had a nice bite to it. Red Miso had a subtle flavor to it, too subtle for my liking. I wish they had given more of it. It was okay

Raw Set B: Peekytoe Crab, Avocado, Kaffir Lime, Lemon Oil

_4

This was my Mums dish. The peekytoe crab meat is all in the center of the dish, the avocado was cut into a dome to cover it completely, and the Kaffir lime was made into a gelée surrounding the avocado dome. Crab was nice and sweet, and crab+avocado always makes a good combo, lime gelée was not too biting. Good

Warm Set A: Foie Gras, Port, Cocoa Nibs, Pear, Celery

_dsc1843-as-smart-object-11

This was mine. I can’t remember all the components of the dish. But the odd looking spaceships on the left are sliced pears with topped with a jelly. The odd looking statues on the right are celery cubes fried in a wantan skin. Foie gras was topped using a crisp dark chocolate wafer, which I had problem with. When eaten separately they both tasted very good, but the crunchy-ness of the chocolate wafer overpowered the softness of the foie when eaten together. Otherwise, everything had good flavor, foie was cooked nicely, it was very good.

Warm Set B: Salted cod, Fingerling Potato, Smoked Gelatin, Caviar

_dsc1845-as-smart-object-1

The salted cod was minced finely and placed at the bottom of the serving cup, it was covered with puréed fingerling potatoes, topped with smoked gelatin and caviar. My mum had trouble with this because she found the fish too salty. When I tried it, I didn’t disagree with her. But otherwise the texture of this is amazing. The potatoes were so finely puréed that they were barely viscous on a spoon, and the gelatin strips added a nice bite to the smooth texture. Good dish apart from the slightly overpowering saltyness.

Main Set A: Arctic Char, Champagne, Zucchini, Chanterelle

_dsc1847-as-smart-object-1

The Arctic Char, which to me is quite similar to salmon but has much softer meat, was raw on one side, and cooked on the other. The play of the raw/cooked meat was very interesting, chanterelles were well seasoned. It was okay.

Main Set B: Pork Belly, Truffle, Potato

_3

I told my mum when she was deciding her main that I heard this dish was good, so she went with it. When my mum saw this she immediately said: Siew Yuk!(Roasted pork) Wow, this was over the top. Kurobuta pork belly roasted perfectly, served with a black truffle sauce, and potatoes done 3 ways. My mum had 2 slices and decided that she couldnt take anymore, I couldn’t let it go to waste. The pork was amazing, meat was tender, fat had that melt in your mouth goodness, skin had a nice cunch but immediately dissolved in with the rest of the fat porky goodness, truffle sauce complimented the pork well. Potatos didnt need to be there, they were way too heavy for the dish and the cylindrical-shaped potato wedges were somewhat undercooked. Great dish apart from that minor drawback. Very Good

Amuse 3: Frozen Marshmellow

_dsc1848-as-smart-object-1

I wasnt paying attention to the server as he was explaining the dish, but I did get the words “frozen marshmellow”, which made me somewhat intrigued, but worried that it would be too sweet because i was fairly stuffed at this point. It was actually tart, and according to the L2O blog, Im going to assume its  ginger-lemon combination, quite refreshing. And whats it like to eat frozen marshmellow? It has a texture I cant quite describe, not as sticky or gummy as you would imagine, kind of like a heavier version of ice cream.

Dessert Set A: Chocolate and Raspberry done 16 ways

_dsc1851-as-smart-object-1

After we were done with the mains, the server came to our table and started rattling off a long list of dessert choices, but the moment he mentioned this, I knew I was sold. In the center is a Raspberry sorbet, chocolate and rasbperry sauce around it. To the side, an actual raspberry(omg), a raspberry meringue, and “chocolate air”, topped with  cotton candy and raspberry powder. Theres not much to say about this, it was pretty heavy, often abit too sweet, but yummy nonetheless. Good

Dessert set B: Soufflé with praline

_dsc1849-as-smart-object-1

I only had a small bite of this but from what I could tell it was pretty good. Praline wasen’t too sweet.

Amuse 4: Passionfruit Marshmellow

_dsc1853-as-smart-object-1

That treehouse-looking base is made from sugar, notsupposed to be consumed unless you enjoy being diabetic. I don’t like the gummy consistency of marshmallows, so I like my marshmallows roasted. Passionfruit flavor was definitely shone through.

Amuse 5: (What once was) Chocolate Ganache

_dsc1854-as-smart-object-1

For some reason I completely forgot to take a photo of this. Well, it was good. You could taste the quality of the chocolate, had a nice bittersweet-ness that lingered on the tongue. Overall, it was a good meal, food was very satisfying, some dishes were confusing and didn’t quite fit in the the overall meal, but others were great. Service was very good, our server was very friendly and never had a problem answering any of our questions. My mum offered to show him around Singapore since he said that he has always wanted to visit. However, if I ever go back to Chicago(which I probably wont), I’m heading over to Alinea.

After the meal the server offered to take us on a tour of the kitchen, we jumped at the chance.

Prep Room

_dsc1857-as-smart-object-1

Kitchen: Sweet foods on the left, Savory on the right

_dsc1859-as-smart-object-1_dsc1858-as-smart-object-1_dsc1863-as-smart-object-1

Spice Rack Cabinet, Each container meticulously labeled. Interesting note: My server, seen in this photo, actually ended up at 2am Dessert bar in Singapore! Talk about a small world.

Spain

El Bulli, Spain (***)

3 Michelin Stars

The Best restaurant in the world

The drive to El Bulli is a journey in itself, much like the meal. The road to El Bulli stretches up high atop the mountains, where you get a scenic view of  Roses, then you come down slightly on to a plateau-like area where El Bulli resides. Few buildings surround El Bulli, and it would be easy to miss the restaurant, if you don’t know what you’re looking for. After a short walk in the garden, the last thing you see is the view of the restaurant kitchen through a little glass window. With the head of a Bull and Ferran Adria at its helm. El Bulli’s culinary connections span all across the world, just look at how the restaurant influenced my trip to Spain: Elena Arzak, of Arzak restaurant, worked at El Bulli. Andoni Luiz Aduriz, of Mugaritz, worked at El Bulli. Rafa’s is Ferran Adria’s favourite restaurant. Jamonisimo provides Iberico ham to El Bulli.  The fact that El Bulli was one of the last stops on our Spain trip, we felt like we had come full circle, and this is the core of Spanish food, this was the center of the culinary world.

Enter El Bulli, and we are quickly ushered into the kitchen to meet the man himself, Ferran Adria, the best chef in the world. He speaks very fast and my Spanish friends have told me he is often mocked for his accent and manner of speaking. He looked very pleased when I showed him a photo of Albert Adria, his brother, whom I spotted at Rafas the night before. The kitchen is a sight to behold, 50 diners are taken per service, and there are 50 chefs working in the kitchen at all times(this is excluding front of house staff), its not hard to see why El Bulli does not earn any profit from it’s diners.

Walk into the courtyard, an open area area next to the sea, take in the sea breeze for a moment, and you are immediately served with the first course of many courses, at El Bulli.

Couse 1: Sugarcane sticks infused with mojito and caipirinha

The “course” is more of an aperitif. Pull out the sugarcane sticks and begin sucking; I did not expect them to be as intense as they were, they were sweet but had a really good alcoholic kick at the end. This was to be a strong indication of the rest of the meal to come: Very intense flavors. Good

Course 2: Handkerchief

Is actually corn paper. Absolutely delicious, to be broken off using your fingers, paper itself was sugary-sweet from the flavor of the corn, and the little bits of corn stuck to it added a savory element to the snack, almost tasted like corn nuts. I could have this every day for the rest of my life and I would never get tired of this. Superb

Course 3: Gin Fizz

Hands down, the best alcoholic drink I have ever had. The drink is served tableside, topping the drink off with a very dense meringue using a whipping cream siphon. You get the sweetness of the gin base, then the alcohol kicks in, and you smell the wonderful citrus-y notes. It truly sends your taste buds on an incredible journey, and after each mouthful, the only thing you could possibly want is to pick up your glass and have another go. Superb.

Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=64nKhk9oSaM

Course 4,5,6
Top: Cherry umeboshi
Middle: Spherical olives
Bottom: Mimetics peanuts

You can tell early on that Ferran Adria gets much inspiration from Asia. The umeboshi, or pickled cherry, didn’t wow me, but then again, Im not a fan of savory fruits. Okay

The spherical olives, Im sure many have heard about. Looks somewhat like an olive, but bite through its outer shell, which feels abit like a very thin film on your tongue, and pure liquid olive essence explodes on your tongue. If you’re a fan of olives, you’ll absolutely love this. Im not that crazy about it. Okay

Mimetics peanuts, despite its incredulous and cryptic sounding name, are actually delicious. It basically has a cold(liquid nitro?), delicate shell that breaks easily in your mouth, and liquid peanut, tasting like a very creamy, soft, but supremely intense peanut essence oozes out. Very good.

Course 7: Sesame cracker.

I can’t remember much about it, but it was very soft and it melted on the tongue, similar to the consistency of a marshmellow, but much softer. Okay

Course 8: Japanese cookie

I don’t remember much about this, but it wasn’t a cookie. It was served on a bed of rocks and we were told to eat this IMMEDIATELY(they were adamant about that), as you can see from the photo, its basically a piece of seaweed more delicate than a newborn baby, with sesame seeds and another topping I cant identify. Okay

Course 9: Vanilla Chips

A bowl of see through ‘chips’, that again melt on your mouth, very very similar to listerine pocketpaks, but with a vanilla flavor. Okay

Enter the El Bulli dining room after the barrage of snacks. An actual rose sits in a rectangular vase on the El Bulli table, set to play its part in the meal later. The El Bulli meal begins.

Course 10: Flower nectar

You are served a flower, and after re-confirming with the waiter 3 times that we were ‘NOT SUPPOSED TO EAT THE FLOWER’, we proceeded to suck the nectar out. It was very sweet, honey like, but much more fragrant. Im not sure if it was necessary to have us suck it out of the flower, since the “nectar” is manually placed in the flower, but it was nice to see how Adria sees many connections between food and where it comes from. Okay.

Course 11: Coconut sponge

How on earth was this made? A cold, very aerated coconut ‘spongecake’, that really wasn’t a cake at all, it was more of a frozen coconut block that was so delicate and soft that it literally melted in your fingers. Disappeared within milliseconds on your tongue, leaving cold, liquid coconut in your mouth. Amazing texture, good.

Course 12: Rose Frost

Remember the Rose used as a table ornament, this was a near PERFECT replica of that, only difference was that it was a passionfruit sorbet, delicious and refreshing. Good (By the way, look at the details on the sorbet, they actually made dark spots on the rose petals) . Looking at the sorbet, the amount of details that went into a simple sorbet is amazing, the chefs had actually made dark spots on the rose petals, and each petal, each layer of the rose is well defined. This is what food presentation can be. Good

Course 13: Black Sesame spongecake with miso

For those of you who watched Anthony Bourdain’s show on Spain, this is the technique used by Albert adria to create the 30-second spongecake. Let me just say that I like black sesame, its a fairly common ingredient in Asia. But this spongecake was a revelation for me, The fluffiest cake you have ever eaten, so tiny and light, yet the sesame taste is incredibly intense, And the miso added the perfect balance of saltiness to balance the sweetness of the cake. Its not a flavour combination that would occur to me, but it just made so much sense the moment I put it in my mouth. Superb

Course 14: Oyster leaf with dew of vinegar

“What the hell is an oyster leaf?” is the first thing that runs through your head when the waiter lays down this dish. But pop it in your mouth and start chewing, it immediately makes sense. It smells and taste exactly like you’re eating an oyster with a vinegarette…. Except… You’re not. Good

Course 15: Chicken Skin Canape

This was amazing. Crispy Chicken skin, with the back cartilage of a chicken, topped with a rich chicken sauce chock full of umami. I’ve never eaten cartilage like that, its a part of the chicken that you really wouldn’t think to use. We were told it was cooked in a pressure cooker until it turned into an almost gelatinous texture before it is used. Very good

Course 16: Truffle Surprise

The “surprise” is actually 2 spherified ravioli of truffle essence, with shaved truffle served atop. Decadence? Possibly. But the flavours were so overpowering they were borderline pungent. Bad

Course 17: Chervil Tea

Chervil tea served in the traditional Japanese green tea ceremony form, I wish they had given us green tea, because chervil tea tastes downright horrible. Almost like a thick, spinach water, with a very strong herb aroma. Bad

Tea Ceremony:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilAsoiW0_vA

Course 18: Prawn two firings(misspelled?) Part 1

First part of the dish: You are served two small spoons with a thick sauce made with pure prawn head, superbly intense and you get all the wonderful sweetness that you usually get when you suck the prawns head(Best part of the prawn, btw), except they took that already intense flavor, reduced it into a thick sauce, thereby making it even more intense. Too much of a good thing can only make it better. Very Good

Course 18: Prawn two firings(misspelled?) Part 2

Part 2 of the dish, you are served the actual prawn, which doesn’t look too interesting. But start eating and you quickly realise that you have been deceived. The legs(top section) are deep fried to crispy perfection, while the body is completely uncooked, much like ebi sashimi. Great contrast of textures. Superb

Course 19: Mimetic Almond

I think this dish personifies El Bulli: Nothing is ever as it seems. The tomato to the left is actually an INCREDIBLY intense tomato sorbet that almost had me gagging(Not a fan of tomato), the “mimetic almonds” are a mixture of real almonds, spherified almonts, almond ice cream, and almond jelly. Interesting to eat, but both flavors on the plate really did nothing for me. Okay

Course 20: Cockles and Yuzu

Cockles were the biggest and juciest Ive ever seen. The yuzu, however, should not have been left in its raw form as it was so sour that it was the only thing i could taste. Okay

Course 21: Mushroom-CRU with hazelnut

Im not sure what kind of mushroom was used, but it was completely raw, and had a somewhat spongy texture. Sounds disgusting, but the incredibly intense mushroom-hazelnut sauce brought the whole dish to life when eaten together. The sauce was so rich and flavourful, it tasted borderline meaty. Good

Course 22: Roses/Artichokes

No we did not eat roses, the very finely sliced pieces of artichokes were arranged to mimic the pattern of a white rose that was brought out for comparison. Im not crazy about artichokes, and everyone agreed that more could have been done to the artichokes to make it more appetizing. Bad

Course 23: Pumpkin and Almond Sandwich

The ‘Bread’ portion of the sandwich was a texture that I can only describe as a Pumpkin foam that was baked. It was dry enough to be picked up with your fingers, but when it hit the moisture of your tongue, it immediately disintegrated into pumpkin. The ‘filling’ of the sandwich was shaved truffles and more almonds, the almonds added a nice crunch to the otherwise melt in your mouth textures, very fun and quirky. Good

Course 24: Sea Anemone with te

Yeah, I’ve eaten Sea Anemone. Its exotic, and once you’ve eaten it, you’ll realise that theres a very sound reason why people don’t eat sea anemone. It does not taste good. Almost like really stale uni, but much less creamy, it had more of a slimy texture, similar to a dragon fruit, but with no bite whatsoever . Bad

Course 25: Pinenut Shabu Shabu

Basically pinenut shabu shabu consists of little ravioli packets that have a texture or consistency of a very thin, see through piece of rice paper(Similar to that which is used to wrap certain candies), that when dipped into pinenut water, the paper melts into a very thin film, and the pinenut butter-ish liquid that is held inside floods your entire mouth with an intense pinenut flavor. A really fun dish. Okay

Course 26: Abalone

I eat abalone fairly regularly, its used alot in Asian cuisine, but this was taking the ingredient to the next level. What you have is a base made from mushrooms and seaweed, sitting atop if is a reconstructed abalone, using alternating pieces of abalone, Iberico ham fat gelee(Melt in your mouth goodness), and Ginger Gelee to cut the richness of the dish. A homage to umami, the fifth taste. A dish that was bursting with different kinds of flavors and textures, this was the most satisfying dish of the night. It was heavy and yet after finishing it you felt like you wanted more. Superb

Course 27: “espardenyes” Gelee

I had to google what ‘espardenyes’ was, and google images kept bringing up a picture of a pair of flip flops, and that is definitely not what this is. Anyway, the dish consisted of sea cucumber, not just any sea cucumber, but the juciest, plumpest sea cucumber Ive ever had. If you mention sea cucumber to any asian, they’ve probably had the black version, which is very gelatinous, and almost jelly-like. This was completely different. This had a sort of meaty-texture that was very similar to a bamboo clam. There were also very thin sheets of ginger(?) gelee.  Very Good

Course 28: Parmesan Ravioli

This was basically liquid parmesan encapsulated in a very thin film that I think was similar to the film used in the pinenut shabu shabu dish. The Parmesan liquid was incredibly intense that it was almost biting on the tongue but there was nothing on the plate to cut the saltiness. Bad

Course 29: Rabbit canape with its giblets

This dish will freak out those of you who dont eat offal. You should probably stop reading right now.

Not for the faint of heart. When you begin your meal in the courtyard at El Bulli, you are asked if you would like to eat offal, being the open minded and easy going diner that I am, I told them that I would eat anything that they serve me. The dish consisted of 2 fried (very crispy) rabbit ears, And there was rabbit brain, heart, kidney, liver, snails eggs which tasted surprisingly good, similar to caviar. Sounds horrible, but it was incredibly tasty and the contrast of textures was amazing. Good

Course 30: Kidney of Lamb with Jerez Consomme, yoghurt and fennel

The last savoury dish ended on a low. Eating lamb kidney floods your mouth with an incredibly pungent smell that is very difficult to overcome. Almost everyone at the table was struggling through this dish. Very Bad

Course 31: Pond

I’ve tried to explain this dish to many people, and they don’t really seem to get it, but if you were at this stage of the meal, having eaten some of the richest and most intense flavors you’ve ever come across in your life, this dish would make absolute perfect sense to you. The dish basically consists of a bowl, with a very thin, dome-shaped layer of ice over it. Then the waiter sprinkles sugar, mint, and green tea powder over it. Then you break the ice and munch in. The mint really shines through, refreshing, which was very much needed at this point of the meal. Very simple but nice transition into dessert. Good

Finishing the dish: www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJonqOpycas

Course 32: Cherry with kirsch

A really traditional combo- chocolate, cherry and kirsch (think black forest), Done El Bulli style. You are told to dip the cherries in a kirsch foam, and these seem to be regular cherries dipped in dark chocolate. But one bite, and liquid cherry oozes right out. I think this was done by blending cherries, freezing it into spheres with a cherry stalk for the illusion, then coating it with dark chocolate, and finally setting the cherries in the fridge so that they can melt into a liquid while the chocolate stays solid. Very good.

Course 33: Coco

You are presented with a huge white orb(Which my mum genuinely mistook for an ostrich egg), the server then sprinkles curry powder over it, and uses a spoon to ‘crack’ the orb, and you are told to break it up with your hands and eat it. It is actually a frozen orb made of coconut milk. I wasn’t crazy about the bits with curry powder, but otherwise, the coconut milk was fragrant, delicious, refreshing, and creamy. Plus, it was really fun to eat. Good

www.youtube.com/watch?v=-q_91_ztblA

Course 34: Puff pastry of pineapple

This looked like straight up astronaut food, but it was actually, very surprisingly, delicious. Freeze dried pineapple suspended between two sheets of pineapple ‘glass’ that seemed to shatter than melt when you bit into it, then melt on your tongue. Very good

Course 35: Chocolate Handkerchief

Is basically a chocolate dome built with chocolate paper, which i can only describe as very thin sheets of crispy chocolate(amazing texture), and little cubes of gelatinous alcochol dusted with coco powder that were so strong I was gagging everytime I popped one into my mouth. The chocolate paper was delicious, but the alcoholic cubes were far too intense. Good


Course 36: Shellfish

The final dish of the night at El Bulli: Shellfish

A clear sign that you need to go to El Bulli with a sense of humour to fully appreciate the entire meal. A pun on the dish “Fruits de mer”, or “Fruits of the sea”, which is usually a platter of shellfish, this last dessert consisted of a mussel filled with lychee gelee(Good), and a clam filled with Toffee ice cream, and a lemon wedge that was preserved, which had a surprisingly sweet rind that I found myself munching on periodically, feeling disgusted at myself for eating a lemon , putting it down for a few seconds, then picking it up and continuing to munch on again. Amusing, mischievous, fun. Good

Tea Service

El Bulli wouldn’t be El Bulli if they simply gave you tea when you asked for tea right? So they wheel out a freakin’ garden right in front of you. Do you want mint sir? Why of course. Snip snip snip, pops mint leaves into a tea pot, throws in a bunch of other leaves. Adds a scoop of honey. Its amazing what a fresh(very) cup of tea can do. I’m not even a big tea drinker and this was life altering. Probably the most fragrant liquid I’ve ever drunk(Ive never had perfume), sweet, and very calming after an onslaught of 35 dishes and 3.5 Hours of more or less constant eating. Amazing

A 10 Minute video of a cute El Bulli waitress prepping 3 cups of tea, compressed into 1.5 mins: www.youtube.com/watch?v=uY4DxSzAU5Y

Morphings

The final thing served to you at El Bulli- Morphings. What the hell are morphings you ask? They are an onslaught of chocolate brought to you in a cryptic looking red plastic box with more hidden compartments than a batman suit. What kind of chocolate, you ask? Everything from a fresh mint leaf pressed into piece of chocolate, to a piece of chocolate printed to look like a leaf, to white chocolate coated over a dehydrated strawberry, to a crumbly chocolate thats lighter than air, to little lego shaped strawberry, green tea and dark chocolate mini bars, to a raspberry chocolate shaped to look like a root. This box alone would have sufficed as a meal on its own. But after a 36 course meal? I made it through half the box before i conceded defeat. Nonetheless, I eventually got to try everything because we stole some chocolate back. Duh

The El Bulli kitchen at 1am. I can only imagine the amount of chaos that took place during our 4-hour meal- yeah, we were there for a long long time. I didnt come to El Bulli expecting every course to be the best dish I’ve ever had in my life, and I didn’t leave disappointed. The bad dishes, I truly struggled with, the Chevril Tea, the sea anemone; on the other hand, the good dishes were amazing, mind-blowing in the sense that your entire paradigm of how an ingredient can be used, be it the flavour, the smell, the texture, what it should look like, completely turned on its head by Ferran Adria; not every dish was good, but every dish was worth talking about, over and over. Having been the best chef in the world 5 times(4 times in the last 4 years), Ferran Adria is no stranger to controversy, the meal seemed to communicate to the diners: “I am the best chef in the world, sit down and have a meal, I will blow your mind”, and he did just that. . Was this the pinnacle of what food is and what it can be? The truth is, I dont know. But it comforts me to know that Ferran Adria’s mantra is “Change, change and change”, which is why the restaurant is closed for 6 months, to re-invent the entire menu, to discover new techniques and inspiration for new creations. To say that a restaurant has obtained perfection is to admit defeat, nothing is perfect, everything can be improved, and certainly El Bulli will continue evolving.