Next time someone in the office suggests sending out for some sandwiches, consider this...
I was at a party on Saturday with a few foodies (imagine) when I received a text message from a friend of mine that read "This is absolutely incredible. I am at an El Bulli catered meal at someone's house outside Barcelona. I won't remember very much but I'll bring you back the menus." Cue lots of jealousy and use of the word "bastard".
True to his word, though, the wanderer returned and here I present first the menus:
... and then (with only a little editing) his account of the event:
Background is that we and some of our Spanish colleagues host weekend retreats every year for each other to ensure the relationship is close and that people know each other well etc. This year it was their turn to host. About 14 of them and about a dozen of us went to stay in a hotel about an hour and a half outside Barcelona and therefore quite close to El Bulli itself. One of their guys has had a second home down there for about 30 years and so knows everybody/everything in the village.
Dinner on the Saturday was hosted at the Spanish guy's house with a team from El Bulli doing the catering. No idea if this is a regular service they offer or it was done as a favour to him. Anyway, they sent three chefs and half a dozen waiting staff and a load of their own equipment and set up in his house. Service impeccable and food sensational.
As you might imagine, the whole thing was something of a haze (we had a wine tasting at lunch which really set me up nicely....), but from what I can remember:
- didn't have a mojito. Had a couple of whisky sours which weren't at all sour but actually incredibly smooth and obviously quite sweet given the passion fruit. Gintronic was the undoubted star of the show though. Mixed in a huge mixing bowl into which they poured a bottle of gin, a small amount of tonic and then a load of liquid nitrogen or something to produce this incredible gin and tonic slush puppy. It was visually impressive and tasted wonderful. Also just remembered the white sangria which tasted good but looked amazing with the fruits somehow suspended in the drink.
- the olives were fucking amazing. I had no idea what he did to them (and no-one would tell us), but they had clearly been hollowed out in some way and infused in something which basically meant that they exploded in your mouth as you bit into them
- not sure what the philopizza involved. Taste and texture of a pizza so the cleverness escaped me
- cauliflower and raspberry was very clever - miniature caulis and raspberries in a vinegar reduction and served kebab style on a skewer. Hard caulis and soft raspberries worked very well. Really good.
- don't remember much about tomato puff pastry. not sure if that means not memorable, I didn't have it or senses affected by gintronics.
- didn't see fried fish chips or cheese w/anchovies
- king prawn was great. Did what it said on the tin. Fiery mayo set off the prawns nicely
- tartlette of gorgonzola et al very good. Again, did what it said on the tin rather than trying to be clever
- tuna belly and piquilo peppers was the best of the lot for me. Most amazing thing I ate all night. Don't have the foodie vocabulary to describe it properly but top sushi quality tuna formed the base with a sliver of pepper on top. Wunderbar.
Mains + Dessert
- Mains were all good except for the fish which I didn't think really worked. Interestingly, someone else said the same so it probably wasn't just the booze kicking in by then. Really enjoyed the mushrooms. They had a great flavour and the vinaigrette was a perfect complement. Pork ribs were great too. Very meaty and substantial - not at all the strand of meat blasted in a thermonuclear reactor and served in a teat pipette I was expecting. Dunno what "Thai style" involved but a slightly piquante sauce from memory. Sadly, I can't tell you anything about the chocolate dessert other than I remember enjoying it but the fruit (melons, mango, pineapple etc) at the end was sensational. God knows what he did to it, but it was as if frozen but not quite frozen (i.e. incredibly cold but without being hard).
Big thanks to our roving reporter for completing what was clearly an extremely arduous assignment. I only have three things to add: