We promised you a full review of this book. Well, here it is. For those of you who are not aware of El Bulli, it’s a 3 star Michelin restaurant in Spain, north of Barcelona. El Bulli has become so popular that reservations for its entire six-month dining season are filled on the day it begins accepting requests. Dinners there can exceed 30 courses. In 2002 it was given the accolade of Best Restaurant in the World. El Bulli only opens for six months of the year and for the rest of the time the kitchen rehearses and researches under the guidance of the man who made it all possible, Ferran Adrià. The food Adrià and his team produce has to be the most innovative in the world but like other innovations, architectural or musical, say, the innovation takes some getting used to. Still, anyone I’ve ever met who’s eaten at El Bulli, tells me the food is as wonderful as it is weird.
Many believe Adrià to be the finest Spanish artist in any media since Dali and Picasso. Here he’s meticulously and chronologically catalogued every dish he’s created during the five-year period – over 800 of them. These are augmented by stunning photography and a commentary in the form of charts, graphs and genealogies of dishes and concepts. Also included is a CD-ROM containing recipes for each dish, videos, menus from the restaurant and what Adrià calls ‘evolutionary analysis diagrams’. My initial scepticsm vanished as I got into the book and became ever more impressed with the purity and logic of Adrià’s concepts.
This mega-tome weighs over 9lbs but it’s no food pseud’s bible; more a scientific and creative exploration of just how far the frontiers of flavour can be rolled back. The photography, stark and uncluttered, enables the reader to get to grips with shape, form and colour without fussy distractions. The accompanying booklet makes a good fist of demystifying the hardback and the CD details the recipes and provides a further wealth of information.
All this avoirdupois and exotica coupled with high production value doesn’t come cheap. It will set you back around e100. So, given the high price, who needs this book? Every aspring young chef with eyes on ‘the Stars’. Who wants it? Me!
El Bulli 1998-2002
By Ferran Adrià