Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Finally !!! my dream came true. After 3 years of trying, I have succeeded. To give a brief history, 3 years ago I tried making a reservation in El Bulli - to no avail. The year after, I tried again and to my surprise, a man by the name of Luis Garcia replied to my email telling me I had a reservation confirmed for 6 people on August 22 (just 2 days after my birthday) - I couldn’t believe it. For one reason or another I was not able to go, so my family and friends went instead so as not to loose the table.
This year, I thought I was going to be in Spain by end of August for the wedding of some friends in Ibiza, so I tried my luck again. I emailed them and to my surprise, they confirmed me another table, this time for 2 people only. Again, for some reason or another, I had to cancel my reservation. First week of june I had a scheduled trip to Barcelona so I decided to buy a book on Philippine Cuisine which my friend Nena recommended, to send to Luis Garcia as a token of appreciation and for having cancelled on them twice. Then to my surprise, I receive an email from him telling me there was a cancellation and that I had a table for 2 for June 18, 8 PM. I could hardly believe it. So much so, that I had to read the email 2-3 and up to 4 times just to make sure that it was correct and not an optical illusion.
So, on June 18, my mom and I drove 150 kilometers to the town of Roses(in the Costa Brava), which is where El Bulli is located (Actually El Bulli is in Cala Montjoi, a cove 10 kms away from Roses). Here are a few facts about El Bulli which I learned from my visit there:
* They are only for dinner open from April to September
* Through out the season, only 8000 seats are available.
* Every year there are almost 500,000 people who try their luck in getting a table for dinner, less than 1% succeed
* Its one of the few (If not the only) restaurant that has more staff than actual clients having dinner (they currently have a staff of 85 people
* They hardly break even from operations since meals are set at 185 euros (Approx 12,000 pesos)
* The head chef (Ferran Adria) is now to considered one of the best chefs in the world, started working in El Bulli at the age of 22, He joined the kitchen staff of El Bulli as a line cook. Eighteen months later he became the head chef.
* El Bulli is a 3 star Michelin restaurant and has been voted best restaurant in the world several times in the past 9 years
* The average number of ingredients used per tasting menu is 185
Anyway, we requested for a Taxi from our Hotel to the restaurant. We arrived a bit early so we took some pictures and admired the view of Cala Montjoi. As soon as we entered, Luis Garcia, restaurant manager was there to greet us, as if he had been waiting for us the whole day…he knew exactly who we were. After a bit of chatting with him he asked us if we wanted to see the kitchen…of course we said yes.
As we entered, there was Ferran Adria, talking to his staff and assistant cooks, preparing for the night. We got to see the four separate areas of preparation and all the fancy equipment they use - it was incredibly clean and organized, quite lab-like.
We were then seated at a table by the window, from where I could watch the entire room easily and we had a great view of Cala Montjoi. The decor was surprisingly unpretentious and there are all kinds of odd and interesting things displayed. Right next to us was a table of a Spanish couple who had already started their meal, so I got to spy on their food as we enjoyed our drinks. We were not given menus, as el Bulli prefers to keep the dishes a surprise. I chose a glass of sherry to start the night. As a teaser and so as not to make this too long, I will end the first part of this blog with the first dish they served us:
The cosmopolitan-mallow. A perfectly chilled blend of vodka, Cointreau and possibly cranberry was served in a sleek, stainless steel martini glass dotted with tangy and foamy lime marshmallows.
Till then…I will continue part 2 of this experience in the next few days,,,,