Trying to describe another person´s philosophy can be a bit tricky, but if the person is willing to share with you his/her feelings, experiences and thoughts, then you are more than happy, and if this person is one of the Best Cooks in the World, then you are in for a treat. I had the honour to be part of the audience of what was called "An evening with Ferran Adriá, which took place at Vinopolis last Monday, where I spent a wonderful time looking at the Master, listening to his thoughts, his ideas and inspirational projects. I was seating there, waiting for him to show up on the stage, and I was feeling like a little girl who is about to meet Father Christmas. And he showed up, and the whole room was quiet. Everybody knew how important was to be there, to be given a lesson from a genius. A New Nouvelle Cuisine lesson. He stood there on the stage, humble as always, and this makes you admire him even more. He started teaching us gastronomy concepts, ideas and showed us some videos. The translator wasn't always fast enough and couldn't keep up, the Man was excited and nothing was going to stop him. He talked about cuisine evolution, about Alicia, the foundation you could tell how proud he is, and about evolution of El Bulli, the restaurant he is redeveloping into a something very big. It's now closed, but everybody can have a glimpse of what was it, at Tickets, his new place in Barcelona. I've been lucky enough to go there twice and there is so much to say, but that is another story and another post...
He talked about EL Bulli not as something that was, but as something that will be. He showed us all the projects around it, all the Experiences pavilions (olive, seaweed, magma, nest), the tunnel of knowledge, a brainstorming room and cinema, and energy and marine scenery (there will be an El Bulli spiral, which will be inspired in the Maya Cenotes, I love this). All these will be up in Cala Montjoi, a sustainable and Zero emissions area. When you are listening to all these plans, you have to feel infected by his excitement and vitality, and I had to congratulate myself for being in this Foodies world, because it's the one I've chosen and it's the one I like. Same as him...
Ferran Adriá came to London to present his new book, The family Meal, 280 pages of knowledge and everyday recipes. It has a very interesting introduction, where he leads you to his pantry and opens his chef´s heart to you. The way of presenting the ingredients is also noticeable, you can cook for either 2, 6, 20 or 75 people, which is the number os people they cookf for the staff at El Bulli. The recipes are simple and delicious, from a Caesar salad, to a Thai beef curry, not forgetting the desserts, like the light and fluffy Tarta de Santiago, chocolate cakes or caramel pudding. Buying the book was optional, but how could I say no if at the end of the conference you had the chance to chat a bit with him and have the book signed. The conference was two and a half hours long, but time flew. The room was heated up with applause, lots of them. But the most energetic? Mine!
"You eat well if you think well."
"You need a lot of humility to talk about food."
"Salad is a concept."
"You can consider yourself a great cook when you create, elaborate, make concepts and uses technic."
"You need to cook with the minimum risk."
"A whole grapefruit is more exciting than a thousand kilos of potatoes."
And my favorite:
"You feed your soul by eating well.
To sum up, at El Bulli Foundation, him and his colleagues will be doing the same thing they have been doing in the past years:
And as promised, this post is dedicated to you, Ferran, and architect of flavours, a creator of illusions, a Master...
This is a velvety chocolate cake, with a final extraordinary splash of extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with salt flakes, a wonderful combination. This recipe comes from The Family Meal, Ferran Adriá´s new book. To be honest, I have put two recipes together, his chocolate cake, and his bread and chocolate, so the cake has the final touch of the latter. The combination is really a pleasant surprise, and it will shock you. Please be adventurous and try it with the olive oil and the salt, at least just a corner, then let me know....
For six people
175g dark chocolate 60% solids
90g softened butter
4 egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar
15g egg yolks (1 egg and 1/2)
A splash of extra virgin olive oil
Fleur de sal or Maldon
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Grease and flour a 22cm round cake tin or a 24cm square tin. You can also bake them in muffin whole tins.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or on top of saucepan with boiling water. Dice the butter and mix into the chocolate, mix with a wooden spoon.
Mix the egg whites and the sugar and whip it up with an electric mixer until you get a soft meringue.
In another bowl, beat the yolks and add to the meringue mix. Then, add this mix to the chocolate and mix again very carefully. If you are using the Muffin tins, fill a pipping bag with the mixture and pipe it into the wholes, otherwise pour the mixture into the cake tin.
Rest in the tins for five minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Serve with the olive oil and the salt aside. The gold dust is optional.