Continued from The Good, The Bad, and The Hungry
We reluctantly drug our feet (and our Port-filled bellies) out the door of our Portuguese oasis clinging onto only the hope that our next destination would welcome us with seafood paella, Iberian ham, sweetened churros, and the smokey chorizo that Spain is famed for. And it did just that. We delighted over all the local eateries that delectably served up classic Spanish cuisine, satisfying our much anticipated hunger.
In addition to the classics, we also had some dishes that were — well, not so classic. Prior to our trip abroad I researched, read, studied, and salivated over all the suggested spots a die-hard food-lover should try. 337 year old tapas restaurants here, famous seafood restaurants there – we never skipped a beat. We even made reservations at La Alqueria — a restaurant of one of the world’s best chefs, Ferran Adria. Chef Adria is known for his highly acclaimed restaurant in Barcelona, El Bulli, in which he pushes the limits of cooking with mind-boggling, wacky food science (aka molecular gastronomy). Last year, he was named S.Pellegrino’s world’s best chef, as well as receiving the best chef of the decade award. So, who wouldn’t want to eat at his sister restaurant in the suburbs of Sevilla?!
After finagling our way into the packed out reservation list we set off for the restaurant which is housed in a luxurious hotel just on the outskirts of the city. We didn’t let the unassuming outside fool us, as we knew the inside was littered with perfectly mannered maitre d’s, knowledgable sommeliers, and gracefully dressed servers in pristine, crisp jackets and sharp white gloves. After being escorted to our table with an apéritif in hand, Grant was presented with the water menu. Not just any water menu, but a menu that was neatly coiled inside of a frozen glass tube which misted fog into the air as it was pulled out. Waters from around the world, flat vs still, expensive vs more expensive — they had more water than most places have wine.
We began sipping on our posh H2O, as our first course of 15 was presented – spherical olives. For those of you top chef watchers, you’ll know that a spherical olive is a soft outer shell encapsulating an olive-ey liquid center that bursts into your mouth within contact. Followed by the olives were “mimic peanuts” and mojito soaked sugar cane for a twist on a traditional liquid cocktail.
Dish after dish continued pouring out as we ate each bite with total astonishment, pondering the intelligence behind the fine-tuned components. Razar Clams with Citrus Foam, Oyster and Marrow Tartare, Asparagus and Grapefruit with Mayonnaise Foam, and a frozen dessert that completely disappeared within 10 seconds of being placed on the table. “Eat this fast!” the server shouted to us.
As I sat there utterly enjoying each astounding bite, I began to fear that my dining partner was not. It was somewhere around the 11th course when I regretfully asked my husband what he thought. “Foam? You made me come to a restaurant where the water cost more than this trip itself, just to eat Foam?” I answered his question with a smirk as I knew he was finding just as much enjoyment out of the experience as I was. (Grant, deniably, loves to eat just like myself, and he has an enormous appetite to prove it.)
We wrapped up the night by oo-ing and ah-ing over the last few courses of a blood orange sorbet with sponge cake and freeze-dried chocolate and raspberry crackle pop (the spotty english translations led me to creating that title myself). We munched on the crackle pop while Grant continued to ask what we were really having for dinner. Although he complained for the entire cab ride home that 15 courses of foam did nothing but leave him starving, and has repeatedly replaced the word foam with anything associated with that night, I know that he secretly had one of the most amazing dining experiences that will never be forgotten, just as I did.