What a fabulous week I have had – frantic – birthday events all washed down with rivers of tequila and wonderful wine. Turning 50 gets the attention of turning 40 for some reason – particularly by your co-revellers. I wake up every day and sit quietly to feel if I feel any different – NAH – Little Janice is still happily playing in the park and big Janice still won’t pass up the opportunity to throw back as many tequila’s as she can get away with.
It’s all good – my birthday booty would rival the spoils of Jack Sparrow ANY day – I am staring at my new Nikon D90 with all of the bells and whistles in its racing driver sexy black and yellow Nikon bag …… Gwajus!!!! I haven’t the foggiest idea what this little baby can do – but I will soon find out – I am going on a day’s orientation course – then on to the big guns!!! The morning (6.30am) of my birthday was hailed by Jamie (6) and Daniela (8) – with a song and a beautiful scrummy home made Birthday Cake (chocolate) for breakfast. Chocolate cake is ‘THE BOMB’ for breako’s !!!!
This afternoon I am cashing in my spa vouchers – one facial and some reflexology should see me float through this evening on a cloud of aroma and therapy. During my last visit to Cape Town – Daniele and I were seated at San Marco’s having an espresso when my eye caught sight of a book in their library, A Day at elBulli – I am sure that I got whiplash I grabbed the book to have a squiz sooooo quickly !!!!! What a book!!!!
Birthday morning saw me become the proud owner of my very own copy of this tome of a book. I have always admired Ferran Adria, but after reading this book ….. I am a bona fide Ferran fan. His food is shear lunacy – borderline alchemy and sublime experiential tom foolery – BUT – I would pretty much do anything to go and be one of the only 8000 (out of 2 000 000 requests) people per year who have the opportunity and honour to experience a meal at this landmark restaurant.
One of my hobbies is painting – I am an artist – I love the smoothness of a brand new canvas and the smell of new oils makes me high in anticipation of the finished artwork – likewise – I just love food to look good on the plate and this book speaks to my limitations ……. You know when you have a scab – and although you just KNOW that you shouldn’t pick off the scab ….. You do! Time and time again – like the thorn bird you impale yourself on your thorny limitations – mine is plating up food. I am simply quite useless at it – which would seem like a paradox for an artist. I need to develop more patience and buckets of more skill in that department.
Ferran Adria is an Olympian in this department – he navigates the divide between food and art with the dexterity of a wizard such as Merlin. He is a sorcerer – that’s more like it. I have a constant argument going on in my head – to garnish or not to garnish. Food for tastes’ sake vs. “we eat with our eyes first” – I have a tiny wee little voice within that decrees that I, Janice will accept and even embrace garnish that ADDS to the overall flavour of the dish. The debate rages on!
Bottom line though – this book is a great read and if that’s all that goes on in just one day at elBulli – liewe hemel – they are busy little bees dedicated to their craft. Since opening in 1981 the restaurant has been voted “Best Restaurant in the World” no less than four times. Their food is described as Avant Garde and a guest will eat between 28 and 35 dishes per meal. They boast three Michelin stars and a completely new menu is presented each year.
Here are just a few of the staggering elBulli facts:
· 50 guests per day
- · 160 days open for business
- · 8000 guests per year
- · €215 per meal in 2009
- · €300 per person including drinks in 2009 on average
- · 700g of food per
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meal per guest
- · 5600kgs of food consumed per year
- · 1666 wines on their wine list
- · 1000 pieces of cutlery used every night
- · 55 types of glassware
- · 750 glasses moved around the restaurant daily
Their attention to detail really appeals to me and they willingly share all of their amazing recipes – which would be fab if I had Lecite, Algin and Xantana in my store cupboard not to mention water bathes and dehumidifiers and the such – I have only just invested in a scale!!! Hope springs eternal!
Have a wonderful day – the sun is shining like the Cullinan diamond here on the East Coast today – thank heavens for air-conditioning!
3 carrots peeled and sliced
2 sticks of celery with their tops sliced
3 onions quartered – do not peel them – this will prevent them from falling apart in the poaching liquid. Better for the presentation of the cooked dish
A bouquet garni – rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage
1 red chilli
a pinch of saffron stamens
3 chicken stock cubes or 1L of chicken stock
10 whole black pepper corns
4 bay leaves
1 bulb of garlic cut in half
Olive oil – use your very best virgin olive oil for this dish – you will really enjoy the fruity pepperiness of a good olive oil in this dish
Salt – flaked fleur du sel
Freshly ground black pepper
Parsley – 1 large bunch chopped finely
In a heavy based pot place all of the ingredients except the olive oil, fleur du sel salt, ground black pepper and parsley.
Cover with cold water and bring to the boil.
Once boiling – reduce the heat so that the potatoes cook slowly and don’t absorb lots of water – this takes about 30 minutes.
When the potatoes are soft but NOT falling apart – strain off the poaching liquid and arrange on a platter together with the carrots and onions
Sprinkle over the finely chopped parsley, salt and pepper and drizzle with plenty of olive oil and serve.
These potatoes are a great side dish with the carrots and onion you really don’t need to add any further veggies and can be eaten cold as well.
They are a nice healthy alternative to roast potatoes in summer with some