May 11, 2007

won-ton campestre


rustic won-ton

When I first arrived and toured the kitchen, I noticed bright green foam being spooned into bowls. I was mildly curious but hey, it was just green foam. Well, it was a whole lot more (and less) than "just green foam." The green foam is an intensely flavored basil foam, but the real star in my opinion was the won-tons. They appear to be nothing more than small dumplings floating in broth in a small cast iron pot.

The won-tons are an unlikely star. Basically they're small pillows of parmesan flavored dough, poached in a good strong chicken stock, and filled with... nothing. They weren't so much "filled" as inflated. You pick them out of the stock with a special slotted spoon, dress them with a little foam and pop the whole airy confection into your mouth. The flavors of chicken, basil, and parmesan are simultaneously ethereal and comfortably rustic.

We ate every bite, and sipped the stock as well.


El Bulli

horchata/trufa


"horchata" - truffle

The "horchata" I'm familiar with from Mexico is a sweet rice drink flavored with cinnamon. Apparently in Catalonia, horchata is made from the milk of the "tiger nut." This dish came as a yin-yang of Catalonian horchata, and a clear truffle consomme. We were instructed to alternate spoonfuls of each side. The slightly rough sweet pale creaminess of the horchata contrasted with and nicely complemented the thick smooth dark savoriness of the truffle. The nut itself was fibrous and crunchy but otherwise not to my taste.


El Bulli

croqueta líquida 2006


liquid croquette 2006

Croquettes are possibly the most overdone menu item on your typical trying-too-hard pretentious menu. El Bulli may be pretentious, and they certainly try hard but their croquette could hardly be described as "overdone." Reminiscent of the spherical olive, this was a thin gelatinous shell around a rich warm meaty liquid. Garnished with just enough crusty bits to justify the "croquette" label, this was tasty and fun. Very satisfying if not transcendent.


El Bulli

Indian Wedding


Bride and Groom
Originally uploaded by Charles Haynes.
Debbie and I recently attended our first Indian wedding. My friend Girish (who worked for me in the US) was getting married here. We took the night bus up from Bangalore to Shimoga, spent three days there including two full days of wedding stuff, then took a regular day bus back. It was an incredible experience. I loved watching how they prepared food for 2000 guests...