The next Secret Diners Club is on Saturday September 1st. The ideas for the Tapas are coming thick and fast. Just need a few more guests to sign up. I've been reading a lot from my (Liz's Xmas present) 'A day at El Bulli'. It's about the once greatest restaurant in the world and it's genius head chef - Ferran Adria. I have never been there, but was shocked to discover that I must have been in the area at some point in the past during a holiday to Costa Brava. El Bulli is situated at Roses, the North of the region, near Girona, right on the coast. The restaurant is all but closed now, and has been undergoing a programme of transformation into teh 'El Bulli Foundation'. The idea is great, but reading the copious amounts of text on the website, it's all a bit perplexing about what they are trying to do. http://www.elbulli.com/home.php?lang=en
They go on a lot about particle sculpting and the like. See what you think and let me know if you can make any sense of it!
Adrià's stated goal is to "provide unexpected contrasts of flavour, temperature and texture.' In fact, in the book he also talks about 'sight and smell', as well. All important facets of the dining experience.
He has described his cooking as 'deconstructivism', which I quite like the sound of, as it inferrs a return to the basic elements of the ingredients and a re think of the dishes we know so well. I'm sort of trying to introduce this, but I haven't got the liquid nitrogen or the agar solution, and his style has been described as 'pretentious', but in my view, cooking is like all of the creative arts: Without pioneers, the art becomes stagnent - it no longer moves forward.
Think of it another way: For good or bad, where would we be without processes such as freeze drying; canning; preservatives; microwaves; oxygen free packaging; ultralow blanching - etc etc - all of which has enabled us to enjoy food that lasts for longer, and can be produced at a lower cost. There are many benefits of the scientific advancements that have been made, or 'messing with our food', but also many negative effects. I won't go into it all here because
a) I am not qualified enough and
b) Its supposed to be about my next secret diners club, not a personal rant about the food industry and it's wicked, evil ways to manipulate the food chain for it's own gains!
Anyway, the aim of the supper club is to deliver fantastic food, first and foremost, then to gradually challenge perceptions and encourage people to try new things, or old things but done in a new way.
I've also been reading up on a few Spanish and Tapas cook books - Rick Stein being one of my other favourites. The recipes in ElBulli are quite technical and very confusing. I'll probably adapt one of them, that doesn't require much specialist kit!
I have some favourites too: Patatas Bravas is often cooked for breakfast with a poached egg on top in our house, as is Huevos Rancheros (ranch-style eggs-more Mexican, really but great hangover food).
There is one dish that still eludes us. Liz, Ellie and I holidayed in Malaga many years ago, and one evening while drinking in a bar, we got chatting to an older couple. They invited us back to their nearby apartment for some typical Malagan cooking. (No. I know what you're thinking!) We were very drunk, and all I remember is there being lots of baked garlic. I think there was chicken involved too. If anyone more has any idea what this could be, please let me have the recipe!
Thanks for reading - if you got this far!
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