“This is not a Dinner”

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I recently found myself with this incredible opportunity to go to Spain and spend two days “decoding Dom Pérignon“. With the Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy and culinary mastermind Ferran Adrià, we were to have the gustatory experience of a lifetime joining them as brought back elBulli’s most famous “snacks” that took the global gastronomy world by storm. What Dom Pérignon was hoping to achieve through this solo tasting and minimallistic experience was a study into the four facets of their newly released 2005 vintage which are: Minerality, Intensity, Seamlessness and Harmony. Ferran built the entire menu around these four themes, making the wine the centre or “sun” and the snacks like orbiting planets orbiting around it.

We were seated at a mirrored table in a dark room, no utensils. Waiters dressed in black delivered the first wave of snacks based around Minerality. The experience would be broken up into four chapters based on the characteristics of the champagne. With each snack would come instructions, “eat this all in one bite.”, “eat this in two bites and drink this in-between.” It was insane. Things were surprisingly sweet when it looked salty, weightless when it looked dense. Everything you think you know about food you had to throw out the window.

I had parmesan ice cream, deconstructed olives, crunchy raviolis made form a seaweed shell with a lemon filling. This was not at all what I would think of when I think of ravioli but that’s precisely what Ferran loves to ask: What makes ravioli, ravioli? Because it’s made of pasta or because it’s a pocket filled? 

After the first chapter was completed the room (or, what I thought was a room) changed suddenly as the walls began to move and open up towards the sky high ceiling, revealing the other tables of guests. The lighting changed from a sharp contrast to a warm soft glow following a change in music changing the entire mood for the participates. Then, just as with Farran’s approach to food, my whole experience changed. 

The experience went well beyond the the thrill of being one of the first people to try a new Dom Pérignon Vintage. It taught me to think about creativity in a different way than just what is. How can you take something we all know and try to understand it more? How can you think one way and then teach yourself to think it again totally differently. The slogan for the elBulli Foundation is “Feed Creativity”… he did that and I can’t wait to see what they do next. 

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Minerality

-Mimetic peanuts

-Hibiscus and peanut palet

-Walnut catanias

-Yoghurt pistachulines

-Beetroot and yoghurt meringue / profiterole

-Mango croquant leaf and marigold

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Intensity

-Tomato biscuit

-Tomato and olive oil airbag

-Iberian sandwich

-Spherical – green olives

-Parmesan macaroon

-Parmesan ice cream

-Raspberry fondant with wasabi and raspberry vinegar

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Seamless

-Black sesame and miso sponge cake

-Nori empanadilla

-Kyosaka muffin

-Ginger, flowers and yoghurt canape

-Oyster with walnuts and seaweed

-Goose barnacles with caviar

-Boiled prawn

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Harmony

-Asparagus canape with black truffle butter

-Truffled Saint-Félicien blini

-Bone marrow

-Cured cow meat

-Lentils from Montjoi

-Veracruz chicken

-Trip to México

-Mullet mummy – Chili

-Fried rabbit ears

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See also Decoding Dom Pérignon

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Decoding Dom Pérignon

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Visiting the El Bulli Foundation is like visiting an alternate reality where utopias of learning and discovery exist and are the highest forms of human achievement. The objective is discovery, understanding the nature of food, how it is prepared and experienced. Ferran Adrià has a passion for this discovery and, after 25 years as head chef at El Bulli, he is devoting himself and his team to cataloging haute cuisine and creative expression in general.

The foundation’s walls are the inside of Adrià’s mind come to life – rooms with drawings and research pinned to foam board, books on all subjects, and a staff of artists and researchers delving into all of it. Ferran asks us questions meant to twist our expectations of food – is champagne still a drink if it’s served in a bowl and you eat it with a spoon? His mind and career has been keenly pursuing these questions for a quarter century.

Dom Perignon‘s Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy was at the foundation as well, discussing a new three year partnership between the esteemed wine makers and the El Bulli foundation with the hopes to “decode champagne”. We visited the new Dom Perignon wing within the foundation and discussed their process of blending that yields a vintage to meet their standards. For them, tasting and decoding is a constant task, as they are tracking the changing characteristics of their wine and, in a macro sense, they look at the similarities and differences between many releases of Dom Perignon, dating back to 1921. On a wall in one room of the foundation we see colored strings connecting Dom Perignon releases, creating a stunning visual way to trace the complex flavors of their champagne expressions over time.

When I asked Richard what Dom Perignon hoped to achieve by having one of the greatest creative minds decode their champagne over the course of three years, he said it was impossible to know on this journey of discovery…

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I had no creative personality before I was working in the kitchen. I think this is a good example for how important it is to do what you really like to be able to be creative. 

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I’m here for a reason. It is the same reason I was in the restaurant for. To look for the limits. But there are no limits. Life isn’t long enough. It can take years and years and our brains aren’t clever enough to understand it all… However clever you are, there will always be something you don’t understand.

Continue reading…

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Snapshots from Barcelona

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It has been 15 years since first visited Barcelona yet my memories of fondness for this city never faded. I was thrilled to see the city new through adult eyes and with all the wonderful personal recommendations brought to me through social media (thank you guys for that!).

Of course we did the classics: coffee at 4 Gats, many paella and sangria moments, the Picasso Museum, Sagrada Familia, Park Güell (cover photo & magical wonderland), people watching walking along Las Ramblas, drinks at El Nacional, lunch at Big Fish, dinner at Tapas 24, Saboc (their menu is arranged by temperature!) and my favorite meal which was at Entrepanes Diaz (where we simply let the waiter bring us all the house specials until we were too full to continue).

Though I did not have a lot of free time, I greatly enjoyed when I was walking the city and I look forward to coming back again to continue my discovery of all that is Barcelona. See below for some snapshots of my favorite moments and links to the places I loved most! 

Below~ Paella and sangria beach side at El Gallito

  Snapshots from Barcelona, Spain Snapshots from Barcelona, Spain Continue reading…

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A Girlfriend’s Soirée

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This past week Ecco Domani launched a special collaboration with fashion designer Zac Posen who created a limited edition bottle design for their classic Pinot Grigio. I’ve been a huge fan of Zac Posen from the runway shows to the red carpet so we really wanted to do something special to celebrate the launch of this inspired partnership and the release of a wine bottle exclusively dressed in Zac.

Kelly put together an intimate girlfriend’s soirée at the whimsical BG restaurant designed by Kelly Wearstler (remember when I stayed at her Malibu mansion?!) overlooking Central Park and the gorgeous Plaza Hotel. Since we are talking about one of the most glamorous gown designers in the world, Kelly dressed us all in Zac Posen bringing such an air of fantasy and delight to the whole gathering.

A silver tiered tray lined in macarons, fresh fruit, meringues and Zac Posen’s own recipe for “My Little Violet Darlings” from the Bergdorf Goodman Cookbook was the center piece to the soirée table. I loved how Kelly brought a formality to the wine by putting it in a silver deco wine bucket on a stand next to the table keeping the Pinot Grigio cool in-between pours.

Why not throw your own soirée – with delicate delights, crisp and bright white wine and look out for the sparkling design of Zac Posen for Ecco Domani to add one last flourishing touch to your own summer parties.

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Above- Zac Posen’s limited edition bottle design for Ecco Domani’s Pinot Grigio chills in a silver deco ice bucket.

Below- The table dressed with a three tier serving tray, Devonia large and small serving plates with matching hand gilded wine glasses, and Alain St. Joanis flatware. I love surrounding a table and room in fresh flowers, these Diane James arrangements are actually silk and no one knew the difference!

Zac_Posen_Ecco_Domani_005    Zac_Posen_Ecco_domani_029 Continue reading…



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