April 16, 2007

fondant de frambuesas con wasabi y vinagre de frambu


raspberry fondant with wasabi and raspberry vinegar

This arrived as a small whitish raspberry with green wasabi at the top like a stem or small leaf, and a teaspoon of red liquid. We were told to eat the raspberry, then drink the liquid. The raspberry had a firm shell on the outside, leading you to think that maybe it was another freeze dried confection, but no! Once you put it in your mouth you realize that it's a fresh raspberry, but it's HOT! You then drink the liquid which is a raspberry vinegar which nicely complements the sugar shell of the raspberry. "Fondant" in French means "melting" so I think of these as "melting raspberries." Another dish that made me laugh with delight.


El Bulli

bombones de mandarina, cacahuete y curry


Bonbons - mandarin orange, and curry peanut.

These were... bonbons as advertised, but not like any bonbons I'd ever had. One was a flat round golden brown disk, the other a yellowish cube decorated with gold leaf. We were told to eat the flat disk in two bites, but the cube all at once. The flat round one was like curry flavored peanut butter in a thin buttery shell - maybe cocoa butter? The cube made all of laugh. You pop it into your mouth, bite down, and your mouth is filled with liquid! It's tangerine juice and the bonbon shell practically evaporates. What fun!


El Bulli

algodón de flores



"flower cotton"

These arrived like little books with rice-paper covers. You opened them to find a flat cottony white felt with flowers arranged in the shape of a face. Cotton flowers, pressed into a book - very clever! Also delicious, the cotton was spun sugar, the flowers had been enhanced with various floral and fruity flavor essences that went well with the candy floss. We were instructed to open the books, and tear off little bits with our fingers and pop them in our mouths. After the first unusually strongly flavored flower, I started inspecting them to see if I could find how they were modified. The evidence, when there was any was very subtle. A sheen of liquid on the back of one flower, a mist on the back of another. Masterfully done.


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April 15, 2007

Snacks








The next set of dishes were a series of little snacks. For the most part they looked like they should be sweet - but they weren't.

3 - hojas de mango y flor de tagete
4 - fritas de pina
5 - merengue/profiteroles de remolacha y yogur
6 - catanias saladas
7 - chocolate salado de cassis, yogur y pistacho
8 - galletas de arroz y parmesano

Hojas de Mango y flor de tagete "mango leaves with marigold flower" were delicately crispy golden mango "leaves" each with a small flower at the base. The leaves were sweet and intensely mango and very crisp. Normally I'd think they were made from a sugar brittle, but the intense fruitiness of the mango would imply no high heat. Fascinating.

The fritas de pina "pineapple frites" look like little french fries but taste like light crunchy pineapple. I suspect pineapple puree frozen into sticks then freeze-dried.

Merengue/profiteroles de remolacha y yogur "Beet meringue and yogurt" were airy light beet puffs with a coating of yogurt dust. Sweet earthy beet flavor and a mild tart dairy to offset it. Traditional flavors - but a very non traditional dry and crunch presentation.

Catanias saladas "salty 'catanias'" were interesting. Centered around a walnut, with a savory deliquescent coating, then a thin delicate chocolate shell coated in cocoa. "Catanies" are a famous confection from Barcelona, consisting of an almond with a sweet almond milk and chocolate coating. This is reminiscent but with a savory walnut preparation instead.

Chocolate salado de cassis, yogur y pistacho "salty chocolates of cassis, yogurt, and pistachio" are small wafers reminiscent of fancy chocolates. The pistachio was greenish and a grainy texture with a strong pistachio flavor. The yogurt was white and delicate. The cassis was the most interesting, one dark layer and one thin white layer in the back. The dark layer seemed like dark chocolate but I suspect it was actually cassis flavored, not sweet with subtle fruit flavors. The light layer though exploded with intensely tart fruit. A shocking combination, but very tasty.

Finally galletas de arroz y parmesano "rice cakes and parmesan" look a little like rice crispies treats covered with decorative glass beads. The cake itself was dry and delicately crunchy while the "beads" were tart little balls of liquid. The entire thing was garnished with citrus zest (probably lemon, maybe citron) and a small purple flower.


El Bulli

teja de encaje al queso curado

The english menu translated this as "'tile' - curing cheese" which confuses me. The name in spanish "teja de encaje" is a particular kind of decorative building tile. It's flat with an embossed design. "Encaje" is lace or embroidery so I think it should be translated as a "lace tile." In any case they certainly seemed like embroidered lace tiles.

They were round lacy cheese crisps. I think there were at least three separate layers of cheeses. I also think it's "cured" cheese not "curing" cheese but perhaps these cheeses have a special restorative quality - one of the things we miss most living in Bangalore are good cheeses, and this dish was deeply satisfying. Crisp, good complex cheese flavors combined with brown roasted flavors. Held up they reminded me a little of holding a host (hope that isn't too blasphemous.)


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