Friday, July 29, 2011
Has it really come to an end? Is the dream over? If you are not at El Bulli right now, then you have missed your last chance. This legendary restaurant will be closing its doors forever and be turned into the El Bulli Foundation where they will guide the bright and talented future. I am so fortunate that all Ms. Lin Guide’s effort paid off and we were allowed to experience a meal of a lifetime. What better way to commemorate the mind-blowing success of El Bulli than show casing their grand finale of desserts.
Parting is such sweet sorrows, so we will have to treat our eyes to some mouth-watering desserts!
To clear our palettes they served us the "Pond" that they also refer to as the "Frozen Lake". This ice lake is crafted carefully and delicately atop a chilled glass bowl. In my mind I can picture Charlie Brown skating across the icy surface with a big smile on his face.
First they carefully tap the brown sugar over icy mint surface that is followed by the drops of matcha powder.
Everything came together and was super refreshing. This was a great way to lead into the dessert portion by clearing the mind, body, and soul. Brr. It felt like a reboot of my system, which meant I am ready for another 48 courses after this!
Starting off light and fresh, we were served the "Yoghurt Blini". I loved the delicate swirl of honey atop and romantic spring feel that the tiny flowers emanated.
Tucked in between the airy shells was a dollop of yoghurt. The exterior felt like mini meringue pancakes that slowly disintegrates inside your mouth. I enjoyed the light texture with a hint of tang from the yoghurt. You could easily inhale a bunch of these in a blink of an eye.
Next came a small taste of Catalan with the "Coca de Vidre - Crystal Cake" that many refer to as a glass flatbread. They used anise, pine nuts, and sugar create these crunchy morsels. There's only a small hint of anise and the pine nuts flavor really stands out.
These hollow puffed up shells looked like a crystalline structure that should be handled with caution as they can break apart at any moment. So enjoy the moment and crunch! Where beauty emerges, chaos will follow.
Enter the darkness as we gaze upon the "Mini-Donuts". Encased in these solid mini tires, donuts, was coconut cream. As you can tell from the photos that they used dark chocolate that was as black as night. The simple sweetness of coconut was enhanced by the bittersweet chocolate.
The last dessert before the beautiful red box was the "Strawberries Carpaccio". I really do enjoy the refined service. Everything that's served feels like an incomplete canvas that will be beautifully painted in front of your eyes. A perfect example was the plate they laid before us. It was just a simple plate with fresh cut strawberries strewn out in a circle with a dollop of yogurt and a few shavings of lime peel.
Slowly they come around the table one by one to drizzle the refreshing strawberry purée onto the plate and adding color to the overall canvas. Like a jar of oil, the purée seeped through every pore of the dish and formed a perfect circle around the center piece.
As the pièce de résistance, they come around again to add bits of freeze dried strawberries atop the yogurt. I love the blend of pure white intermixed with drops of red that just popped out at you. Not only was the dish presented artistically, there was a lot of thought put into each dish. There were three preparations of strawberries in this one dish. Not only were they each flavored differently, they also add a new texture and level to the whole dish. It's definitely a very refreshing spring flare to end the dessert courses.
My favorite part of dinner are the mignardises! I was eagerly awaiting the beautiful dark red box! It might sound silly, but I was afraid that we were one of the last tables and they would run out of the treasures hidden in the box. Of course they replenish the boxes after each table, so don't worry. First they plop the huge box that's closed tightly. Then the magic begins as they open the top and start pulling out the side drawers with more hidden goodies! If I wasn't carrying such a tiny LV purse, I would have stuffed it full of the yummy treats!
So what treats were hidden there? I tried to take detailed notes as they quickly explained the treats. There were eucalyptus mint chocolates, liquor tangerine chocolates, hazelnut & dried fruits chocolates, passion fruit with hazelnut chocolates, soy in white chocolates, green tea chocolates, strawberries & yogurt chocolates, pistachio & beans chocolates, passion fruit with yogurt, chocolate covered corns, white chocolate covered strawberries, white chocolate with sesame, chocolate covered dried cherries, chocolate covered coconuts, and chocolate that look like corals. Whew! That was a long list but worth it!
I thought the whole box was designed and showcased wonderfully. It really isn't just great food but an exploration of creativity. The coral chocolates were cleverly crafted. After one bite I thought of umami right away. I thought this was very reminiscent to the flavor of soy sauce and found it very interesting.
Hidden in the box was a little reminder of the sea. They had coral shaped chocolates next to the little group of sponges made out of passion fruit and yogurt. This had a very interesting texture because it was so porous. As soon as it touches your tongue, you feel a slight popping and fizzing in the mouth as it dissipates.
They really loved to use freeze dried fruits in many of the dishes. That would also include the white chocolate covered strawberries. A crisp texture that is different from your normal fresh strawberries covered in chocolate.
Everything in the box focused on the strong elemental flavor paired with the chocolates. Even if you did not remember which chocolate was which, one bite will tell all. After all, a true master does not need many ingredients to impress. They can take a simple ingredient and make it something memorable. Like the white chocolate with sesame just filled your mouth with the wonderful aromatic flavor of sesame and lingered in your mouth.
Even though I love mignardises, it is always send to think that this is the end of the road. Of course it has been a wonderful and exotic journey, but all good things must come to an end. It was way past the stroke of midnight and my fairy godmother's magic had ended. The carriage has reverted back into a pumpkin and it was time to return to reality. Of course they did not let you leave empty handed as each guest receives a signed menu from the Master Chef Ferran Adria that is individually numbered!
Alas I bid thee farewell and I feel honored to have experienced the best of the best.