Between the ages of about 12 and 16 we spent, as a family, three summers in a tiny coastal town on Spain’s northern Costa Brava.
At the time, the resort of Roses was known for few things apart from the inevitable mini golf course, a go-karting track and perfectly serviceable stretch of beach. It was bustling enough in the evenings without feeling oppressive and enjoyed a steady trickle of tourists, predominantly from Germany and Britain.
How things change.
Roses’ most famous landmark is now a restaurant. But not just any restaurant: the best restaurant in the world. Officially. Ferran Adria’s El Bulli has once again been awarded the accolade of serving the best food of any establishment on the planet.
The restaurant’s name (meaning ‘bulldog’ in honour of the orginal owner’s pets) has become a by-word for culinary experimentation, as well as excellence, and Adria’s influence continues to make its mark on menus all over the world.
His, now notorious, style of cooking has been dubbed ‘molecular gastronomy’ but the name is considered to be something of a misnomer with even the founding fathers of this new cuisine trying to throw off the tenacious label to try and make it sound less inaccessible.
Where is all this going? Well, sadly, at the time I was holidaying there, El Bulli, despite having notched up two Michelin stars, was not the place of gastronomic pilgrimage it now is. It was known amongst the tightly knit fraternity of the foodie elite, but certainly didn’t feature on my culinary radar, nor that of my parents.
As a result, we never went.
It saddens me to know that at the time, there were some nights the restaurant would struggle to make ten bookings.
They now receive about two million requests a year with only a tiny handful – 8,000 – lucky enough to bag themselves a place during the six months it is open.
But, whilst I might not have direct experience, or even a reservation, I am in possession of the next best thing.
A while back I wrote about receiving the Texturas starter kit, the equivalent of a foodist’s chemistry set to allow budding ‘molecular gastronomists’ (since no better term has been invented I’ll struggle on with this one) to replicate some of the cutting edge techniques that have made Ferran Adria truly famous.
And I’ve finally got round to paying with it.
So, this is by way of introduction. And, hopefully a justification for the slightly – erm – unusual nature of the next few posts.
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