Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Personal Discovery: El Bulli

Lamb's tongue with red mullet
Photos from El Bulli's website

A few days ago, a friend directed me to the site of the restaurant El Bulli, knowing my love for ingenuous, original dishes.

I found myself scrolling through images of the craziest edible inventions--Iberian ham "tapioca," fish cotton candy (fish meat formed with a cotton-candy consistency), and pine-nut marshmallows. Many of these feats are carried out using the latest kitchen technology.

I've always been interested in food inventions, unlikely ingredients carefully placed together, forming surprising concoctions. Unfortunately, the really shocking creations are usually constructed at the expense of taste. Image my surprise when I learned El Bulli had been rated the Best Restaurant in the World by "Restaurant" a record number of four times (although I do wonder if they accounted for El Bulli's use of cutting edge kitchen technology when judging taste...).

That's when I set about finding all I could about this amazing place. Where was this restaurant? How could I get a reservation? How much would a meal cost? El Bulli is a cozy edifice nestled in the outskirts of Roses, Spain and can only house around fifty diners at a time. The restaurant is only open from April to September, and for the 2,000 reservations they book every year, the restaurant receives over 400,000 "applications." That's right. After prospective diners submit their reservation request, eager epicures wait for months for their letter of rejection or acceptance. Surprisingly, a meal only costs 165 euros, or around 200 dollars per person (not bad for the 'best restaurant in the world').

If you're wondering how Chef Adria can cover his overhead--the cost of running a restaurant that uses expensive cutting-edge techniques, but can only house a small number of diners--your concerns are not at all off-base. Chef Adria uses the money he commands from interviews and guest lectures (not at all a stingy sum) to cover the costs.

And really, the dishes are a spectacle themselves. Here are some more of the creations that Chef Ferran Adria has cooked up:

Irish coffee of green asparagus and black truffle

Lychee soup with apple lattice, bilberries, and fennel water

Note: If you type 'El Bulli experiences' in Google, a quite a few personal blogs, penned by fellow food-philes, will pop up detailing their dining experiences at El Bulli.


  1. Cool restaurant and cool post! Paul Rozin, the Psych 001 professor, has been to El Bulli and tells his classes about the experience.

    ...and don't you wonder who has the authority to judge anything the 'best in the world'?

  2. You will find nothing better then El Bulli.



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