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.
-Hibiscus and peanut palet
-Beetroot and yoghurt meringue / profiterole
-Mango croquant leaf and marigold