The Bazaar. Love Triangle.
I feel like I’ve just woken from a dream.
A strange dream in a dark candyland populated by well dressed smiling monkeys, impossible chandeliers and clouds of liquid nitrogen.
And this man.
Marcel from Top Chef.
The words “Savor Life Slowly” repeating faintly but insistently in my mind.
I’ve emerged from the world of José Andrés, where food is art, art is ironic, and irony is for sale.
Parts of the meal are coming back to me. I remember flashes of brilliance, whimsy and contradiction. Textures and tastes that deceived and surprised. Dishes that reminded me of a history not my own.
But ultimately the experience of a meal that was greater than the sum of its parts.
Let me try to paint a picture.
Nitro Caipirinha. Rising out of a fog of liquid nitrogen like a caipirinha in slushee form. Prepared tableside, liquid nitrogen is stirred into the caipirinha until it reaches its desired consistency. That being the consistency of delicious.
Papas Canarias. Salty wrinkled potatoes with a mojo verde. If baked potatoes are good, baked baby potatoes are better.
Mussels, canned with olive oil, vinegar and pimenton. The salt of the sea meets the sweetness of tomato broth meets the acid of vinegar.
White asparagus, yogurt and black olives. A tiny forest of asparagus trunks rising from a can. Desolate. Resolute.
Embutidos platter. Chorizo, lomo and salchichon. Jamon Serrano Fermin. Dry cured ham, sliced thin. Folded onto a slice of Catalan style toasted bread, lathered with a tomato salsa and manchego. A taste of Spain.
Endive, goat cheese, oranges and almonds. A perfect bite to cleanse the palate. The crunch of the endive, the soothing goat cheese and the brightness of orange.
“The ultimate Spanish tapa!” Ensaladilla rusa. Potatoes, carrots, mayo, tuna belly. If José Andrés wants to call this the ultimate Spanish tapa, who am I to argue?
Brussels sprouts, lemon purée, apricots, grapes, lemon air. The tart preparation belies the bitterness of the brussels sprouts. Surprisingly light.
Bunuelos. Codfish fritters with a honey alioli. Battered fish, in any language, tastes good.
Sea scallops with a romesco sauce. Sweet. Perfectly caramelized. Simple and flavorful.
Japanese taco. Grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi, chicharron. Thinly sliced cucumber replaces the tortilla. José Andrés does Japanese masquerading as Mexican.
Organized Caesar. Caesar rolls topped alternately with a quail egg yolk and parmesan. You say organized. I say deconstructed. Everyone fights over the quail egg.
Watermelon tomato skewers, Pedro Ximénez reduction and lemon dressing. A visual treat. It tastes like it looks. Watermelon and tomato.
Boneless chicken wings with a green olive purée. Andrés does fried chicken. The Colonel should take note.
Butifarra Senator Moynihan. Catalan pork sausage, white beans and mushrooms. Frank and beans Spanish style, if you will.
Beef hangar steak, piquillo pepper confit. Seared medium rare. Juicy and pink.
“Philly cheesesteak”. Air bread, cheddar, Wagyu beef. Essentially thinly sliced Wagyu over a puffed bread with cheese. Don’t ask for cheese whiz.
At this point, I’m stirred from my slumber and lead into some half-dream room. Glass bells cover perfect groups of candy, like some laboratory of sugar. The Alchemists tried to turn lead into gold. Here the ingredients are sugar, flour, eggs and cream. The results are just as alluring and desired as the precious metal.
Sweet Little Snacks.
Creamy Chocolate Heart. Coffee and cardamom. Dense. Rich. Chocolatey. Good.
Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta. Apricots and muscat gelatin. Dig down. Scoop up. Taste. Repeat.
Ice cream and sorbet. Orange, peach, strawberry. Refreshing.
Traditional Spanish flan. Vanilla and fruit. A classic to end the meal.
And with that, the dream gives way to waking.
Save for a final image. A beautiful girl resting her head on a concrete pillar. “Soft Like Silk”.
I wonder if she shared the same dream.
Los Angeles, CA 90048