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Five days in Barcelona (and points north).

DILLUNS LUNES

(MONDAY)

I'd been told about the light in Barcelona, and indeed It's the first thing I notice as we slouch in the back of a taxi, feeling beat up and starved after a trans-Atlantic flight with a quick stop in Frankfurt. Had we dreamed the man in a white jumpsuit, furiously pedaling a bicycle through the smoky Lufthansa departures lounge? No matter--we've arrived in Barcelona, and are bathed in that glorious city light, reflecting off of each perfect facade.

It was Ildefons Cerda, a civil engineer with robust socialist leanings, who made that light possible Called on in the late 1850s to design an extension that would ease serious overcrowding in the Old City, Cerda created an orderly, egalitarian plan devoid of the grand promenades that would, he felt, encourage conspicuous consumption among the bourgeoisie. He envisioned a new urban quality of life in which buildings would retain a human scale, open spaces and fresh air would be equally available to the public, and, thanks to the flattened corner faces of every building at the intersection of two streets, light could penetrate almost from one end of each street to the next. Although Cerda's scheme was partially undermined by the city's wealthier citizens, who convinced the government to sell them ever-larger slices of the public pie, the street plan, the human scale, and that unimpeded light remain.

Within an hour of our arrival, we sit down to our first meal in Barcelona, at the bar of a nondescript tapeo in L'Eixample (the name given to Cerda's new piece of the city--literally, "the extension").

On our plates: wedges of potato tortilla, thick sausage links, whole roasted red peppers, piping hot and greaseless croquetas, patatas bravos with garlicky allioli. We down a few short cups of cava and then, because our bodies and minds demand it, tumble into prolonged siestas.

DIMARTS MARTES

(TUESDAY)

If yesterday afternoon was about the light, this morning is about an unexpected darkness. The electronic transformer, purchased in order to make American camera equipment play nice with Spanish electricity, has failed. Our faces burn rojo as we fidget and worry in the foyer of Jordi Vila's Alkimia, the first on our list of six restaurants. I've known New York chefs to eject visiting journalists for lesser offenses, but Vila simply shrugs and points to the floor-to-ceiling windows that front his space. "Maybe you can just use the natural light?" We can, and gratefully do, to soft and lovely effect.

We set out to find a new transformer just as many shopkeepers pull their gates closed for the afternoon's siesta. Of those shops that remain open, none sell a US-to-EU converter--and really, why should they? Frustrated and, frankly, freaked out about having to explain the situation, in broken Spanish, to five more chefs, we stumble back toward our hotel ... and ... wait ... doesn't ferreteria mean hardware store? Two doors down from defeat, on the very block where we prepare to admit it, we find a US-to-EU model, which renders us once again useful. We are also hungry and thirsty.

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As I venture out for pre-dinner supplies, I can't help but chuckle at the arbitrary nature of monetary value. In a stark white pharmacy, a man in a lab coat sells me a dusty box of contact lens solution for a cool 12 Euros, while in the modest grocery across the street, a kilo of manchego cheese goes for five, a superb bottle of rose for less than two.

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It's nearly 9:30 P.M. before the sun truly sets, thanks to the absence of European daylight savings time. We watch schoolgirls do jumps and spins on rollerskates in the park behind the hotel, then head to Cato 1.81 for dinner. We're initially put off by how brightly lit the place is--only later coming to realize that this more norm than exception--but after our cava has arrived and the room fills with happy diners, we couldn't care less. By the time we've sampled most of the menu--the highlights of which include a truffled potato tortilla, exquisitely fresh buffalo mozzarella and delicate ravioli stuffed with cod--we're laughing at our fate: in the dark this morning, overlit at midnight.

DIMECRES MIERCOLES

(WEDNESDAY)

"Bar-CA! Bar-CA! Bar-CA!"

It's mid-morning at La Boqueria, the city's most famous open-air market. We've successfully navigated the Barcelona metro--so clean! so efficientl--and all around us, shoppers and tourists are behaving the way shoppers and tourists do: snapping photos, squeezing fruit, sizing up hams, munching churros.

"Bar-CA! Bar-CA! Bar-CA!"

But there's this one group of guys, clustered around a table on the edge of the market, behaving in a markedly different fashion. Singing, yelling, swaying with their arms around each other. Drinking an alarming amount of cava for such an early hour. We circle the market once, twice, dip out into the narrow streets of Las Ramblas, check our e-mail in a dank storefront, return. They're getting louder now, a larger crowd, happier, drunker. Like nearly everything we'll encounter in Barcelona, the scene invites comparison to New York, where such a high-volume display of exuberance would be tolerated just long enough for the cops to arrive.

But, really, who cares? They're happy, no one around them seems to mind, and we're headed for an early lunch at Bar Pinatxo: salty, crunchy gambas, chipironescon mongetes (cuttlefish and white beans drizzled with balsamic vinegar), marinated mussels with flecks of mild green pepper, cap i pota (head and foot) and, naturally, cava. We're served by legendary owner Juanito Bayen, age 71, he of the striped red vest and bow tie and seemingly boundless enthusiasm for his work, despite having been at it in the same location since the 1960s.

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"Bar-CA! Bar-CA!"

Later that afternoon, as we pack away the photo equipment at Espai Sucre, our eyes and fingers equally sugar-glazed from stolen swipes of Jordi Butron's confections as they melt elegantly under the hot, hot lights, one of the cooks asks us, "You know about the football game tonight?"

No, we don't, so he fills us in: Barcelona plays Arsenal tonight in Paris for the UEFA Champions League Cup. Which explains the preponderance of red- and blue-striped flags fluttering from stately balconies and laundry lines in every neighborhood. And those expansive, noisy gentlemen in the market And the firecrackers, whistles and citywide shouts of anguish and elation that rise in unison against the deepening Barcelona sky.

In the end, Barcelona triumphs, winning the cup for the first time since 1992.

"BAR-CA! BAR-CA! BAR-CA!"

Within 30 minutes of the game's conclusion, Barcelonans have taken to their cars in packs of three, four, six, ten--hanging from open windows, shirtless, waving team flags and scarves and jerseys, leaning on their horns for blocks at a time.

"Sl, Sl, Sl, LA COPA JA ESTA AQUI!"

Many more are on foot, walking (and running) toward Placa Catalunyo or Las Ramblas, where red and blue fireworks create a pink haze above the melee but not, it would seem, any rational fear within the crowd. I hadn't been aware that Barcelona even had a football club until a few hours before, out the fans' elation is contagiously emotional, and we join in the celebration as if we'd been following Ronaldinho since his Paris St. Germain days, as if it were our Barca.

The only bad news? It's nearly impossible to find a restaurant that hasn't shut down early to avoid the raucous street party, and we're forced to eat English pub pizzas that bear, like the mark of the beast, the unmistakable flavors of central manufacture, a freezer and a microwave.

DIJOUS JUEVES

(THURSDAY)

Remarkably, for a city that hosted a gigantic, spontaneous party lost night, Barcelona arises and reports for work the next morning, same as ever. We spend the morning in the vast, cool dining room of Joan Roca's Moo, at the Hotel OOMM, while afternoon finds us in the company of Carles Abelian, smoking furiously as he delivers a treatise on tapas in the dining room of Comerc 24. We've been told to be there by 4:30 p.m., but the cooks don't even come in to set up their stations until 6 p.m., an arrangement that would certainly thrill our line cook friends stateside.

Both shoots have been the kind we like--that is, the kind in which the chef encourages us to eat the subjects as soon as the photography is finished--but somehow we find ourselves grabbing two stools at Tapac 24, Abellan's brand-new homage to the classic tapeo, and ordering just about one of each from the extensive menu.

On our plates: jamon lberico, patatas bravos, a mess of croquetas, bombetas de Barceloneta, a bikini sandwich that's been tricked out with block truffles, El Corte (the perfect marriage of ice cream cone and ice cream sandwich), and a nod to Daniel Boulud in hamburger form: the mini hamburguesa Mc Foie, a tiny burger stuffed with duck foie gras and served with ketchup, mustard and perfect patatas. It's a variation on a French chef's most notorious creation, out it's also the most American thing we'll experience in Barcelona.

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DIVENDRES VIERNES

(FRIDAY)

Today we leave the city, on a field trip driving north to Can Fabes and elBulli. The morning starts with a few bumps: we have a hard time locating the rental car office and our translator, Mariano, at the Barcelona train station. Once inside the car, we spend several agonizing minutes stuck behind a bus whose driver has decided to perpendicular park while he offloads his passengers. The car is so small, and our Plexiglas backdrop so large, that I must ride sitting literally beneath it. When Mariano calls Can Fabes to let them know that we're running about ten minutes late, they're surprised--some crossed signals had inadvertently led them to believe that we'd cancelled our visit to Sant Celoni.

Despite the confusion, things run smoothly at Can Fabes--that is, until a mysterious pastry equipment failure holds up production of the final plate, a blood orange bavarois. It's closing in on the lunch hour. The waitstaff needs us out in order to set up the tables we've commandeered. We've been explicitly warned not to be late to elBulli, which is at least another hour's drive away. We pace and curse. A manager glares. We peek hopefully into the kitchen. And wait.

The dish emerges at 1:19 p.m. Photography ceases at 1:21 p.m. We exit the restaurant, equipment in tow, at 1:28 p.m. The first lunch guests arrive at 1:30 p.m.

We pull in to the elBulli parking lot at 2:59 p.m., feeling lightheaded from the twisting, one-lane, exquisitely beautiful and terrifying road to Calo Montjoi.

You know how, when you finally visit a place that carries the weight of worldwide legend, the real thing can seem like something of a life-sized disappointment?

This isn't one of those times.

Every detail at elBulli is both immediately noticeable and in utter agreement with every other detail, from the slate steps that lead you past perfectly effortless evergreen landscaping, to the cheeky pop art and overstuffed chintz couches in the salon, to the coffee spoons that suggest overgrown sewing needles, and the substantial glass tumblers of water that are poured for us. The kitchen is an all-star arena of precision and quiet, presided over by a large wooden bull's head.

In every way, we've reached the apex of this journey.

Ferran Adria's assistant Aintzane asks me to read two documents (available in English, Spanish, French and Catalan) before interviewing the chefs. The first, written by Ferran, is called 'MOLECULAR COOKING." It begins:
 "If I had to be guided by the questions asked of me, everybody would
 think that I am the pioneer, the creator or the person responsible for
 Molecular Cooking. Without exaggerating, nine out of every ten inter
 views make reference to this fact, when I have never said anything
 relating elBulli to Molecular Cooking. Furthermore, I think scientific
 work deserves respect, and not this kind of triviality."


This puts me somewhat at ease, as the questions I have prepared do not address the particulars of molecular gastronomy--not because I had anticipated this manifesto, but because so many of the specifics have already been documented ad nauseum, and I'm sensitive about asking the world's most famous chef to repeat himself.

The second document is called "Philosophical synthesis of elBulli restaurant," which begins:
 "I Cooking is a language through which all the following properlies
 can be expressed: harmony, creativity, beauty, poetry, complexity,
 magic, humour, provocation, culture."


There are 23 points in all, and had we not been communicating through a translator, and had I not been so dumbstruck by the reality of just being here, I would have asked the Adria brothers a million questions.

What do you mean by the "technical-conceptual search"?

In what ways does the developing, increasingly ordered culinary language intersect with the language of art?

In light of your feelings about sharing and documenting knowledge and discoveries, what is your response to those chefs who wish to extend intellectual property protection to the kitchen?

How does it feel to be who you are?

To do what you do?

The afternoon goes quickly, and soon we're back in the tiny car, narrowly missing the business end of a 15-ton Volvo truck that appears at the crest of a blind curve. We stop in Roses and eat grilled sardines and monkfish that have been out of the sea for fewer than three hours. We drive back to Barcelona sated, our heads swimming. The work is over, and has just begun.

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JOAN ROCA MOO

barcelona spain

la mantra de catalunya

Joan, Jordi and Josep Roca represent their family's third generation of restaurateurs. Their Michelin two-starred restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca, provides a polished, modernized version of traditional Catalan cooking that works in perfect counterpoint to the more rustic cuisine offered by their parents at the adjacent Can Roca, in Girona. Having fielded numerous offers to bring their gastronomic magic to the largest cities in Spain, the Roca brothers have made the Hotel OOMM, in Barcelona, their chosen urban outpost. With their restaurant, Moo, they seek to demystify fine dining, setting it on a stage of whimsical design. The restaurant's a la carte menu is designed as a series of half-portions, so that diners may sample a greater variety of dishes. With each a la carte dish, the diner may order a specially matched glass of wine, something of a rarity in the bottle-pushing world of fine dining. While their home base remains Girona, the Roca brothers' presence is felt in every plate and every glass of wine at Moo. Felip Llufriu, who spent two years learning from Joan Roca at El Celler, is the able young executive chef at Moo, and Endika Urreta executes Moo's pastries, under the tutelage of Jordi Roca. Follwing our visit to Moo, Joan Roca took the time to answer a few questions for Art Culinaire.

ac: Tell us about the process of writing your new book, La Cocina al Vacio (Sous-Vide Cuisine). Why did you choose this subject?

jR: It's a subject that interests me, establishing a relationship between the time and ideal temperature at which to cook products. The sous-vide technique allows us to treat the products more gently As we did more and more research, we realized that we had information that could be useful to our colleagues, and that the best way to do it would be to write a book.

ac: How long did it take to complete this project?

jR: We spent five years experimenting and conducting research, and one year on the writing itself. During that time we developed the "Roner," which is a thermal immersion thermostat that keeps a water bath at a very precise temperature.

ac: How did you come to choose the American chef Wylie Dufresne to write an introduction to your book?

jR: Wylie Dufresne is one of the world's foremost vanguards of cooking, and his work is very interesting to me. It was a great honor to have him write the prologue to our book.

ac: How does El Celler de Can Roca differ from your parents' restaurant, Can Roca?

jR: My parents and grandparents have always maintained Catalan traditions in the kitchen. The restaurants are located next to each other, and we coexist in perfect familial harmony.

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ac: Is there an element of Catalan tradition in your cooking?

jR: It's always been a very important part of my kitchen, to interpret traditional Catalan cuisine. But we are also open to the world, and we incorporate techniques and ideas from other cultures.

ac: How did you decide to open a restaurant in Barcelona, and more specifically, within a hotel?

jR: The proprietor of the Hotel OOMM gave us a great opportunity to create a new type of restaurant, where there is total complicity between the kitchen, the wine and the design of the space.

ac: Tell us about the desserts on your menu at Moo that pay homage to the perfumes of Calvin Klein, Thierry Mugler and Carolina Herrera.

jR: This was an initiative of my brother Jordi. He has begun to interpret the aromas of perfumes and develop them into desserts. This was inspired by the receipt of a box of bergamot oranges in our kitchen. It showed him the connection between elements of fragrance and elements of cuisine. The majority of feminine perfumes have aromas of fruits, herbs, spices and flowers--products that we habitually use in our cooking.

ac: Why is it so important to be able to offer a matched glass of wine with every dish on your menu?

jR: The complicity between food and wine is a great source of inspiration in our kitchen. In fact we use the aromas and flavors of particular wines as points of departure for creating new dishes. Therefore it was essential for us to be able to offer a specific wine for a specific dish. The majority of our clients follow this suggestion and order the matching glass of wine that we have suggested Of course, they are free to make their own selections as well.

ac: To what extent do you feel that your work has been influenced by the work of the Adria brothers at elBulli?

jR: Ferran Adria is a great friend to our family, and he has influenced everybody in one form or another.

ac: What do you see as the most exciting development in Barcelona's fine dining scene at the moment?

jR: In Barcelona, chefs are concentrating on building up restaurants of a very high gastronomic level.

Pig's Trotters with Rice and Shrimp (Serves 6)

Comabruna

Espelt Viticultors, SL

Emporda, Spain 2003

For the pine nut and chervil oil: In food processor fitted with metal blade, combine nuts and chervil and, with motor running, slowly drizzle in oil until all is incorporated. Season with salt, cover and set aside until ready to use.

For the onion confit: In skillet, heat oil over medium heat and add butter. Once butter has melted, add onions, arranging in single layer in pan. Sprinkle sugar over onions and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until onions begin to brown. Add vinegar and salt to taste and continue to cook until onions are very soft and liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

For the rice: Place trotters in large pot and cover with water. Add onion, celery, carrot, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until meat is very tender, about three hours. Remove from heat and let trotters cool in cooking liquid. Remove meat from bones, cut into small dice and set aside. Discard bones. In skillet, heat onion confit over high heat until sizzling, then stir in rice. Cook, stirring constantly, one minute, then add diced trotters and stock. Stir well, cover and cook until all liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender, about 40 minutes. Stir in butter and cheese, season with salt and pepper, cover and keep warm.

For the shrimp: Place each shrimp between two sheets plastic wrap and gently pound to flatten.

To serve: Place rice in shallow bowl, cover with two shrimp, drizzle with pine nut and chervil oil and serve.

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For the plne nut and chervll oll:
3 ounces pine nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 bunch chervil leaves, finely chopped
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste


For the onlon confit:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 ounce butter
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 ounce granulated sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


For the rice:
2 whole pig's trotters
4 quarts water
1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bay leaf
10 black peppercorns
Onion confit, from above
6 ounces bomba rice*
2 quarts shrimp stock
Butter, as needed
6 ounces manchego cheese, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


For the shrimp:
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined


Green Salad with Passion Fruit, Canonigos and Asparagus (Serves 4)

Verdejo Naia

Vina Sila

Rueda, Spain 2004

For the passion fruit gelatin: In saucepan, combine puree and agar-agar and bring to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, transfer to baking pan and refrigerate until set. Cut four 2 x 4-inch rectangles from gelatin and cut remaining gelatin into 1/2-inch cubes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the dill oil: In blender, combine dill and oil and puree until smooth. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and reserve.

For the salad: In large bowl, combine canonigos, greens, chervil, dill, tarragon, asparagus, carrots and grapes. Add passion fruit gelatin cubes, season with salt and pepper and gently toss. Place passion fruit gelatin rectangle on plate and top with salad. Drizzle with dill oil, garnish with fennel fronds and nasturtium petals and serve.

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For the passion fruit gelatln:
14 ounces passion fruit puree*
1 teaspoon agar-agar


For the dill oil:
1 bunch dill, blanched and refreshed
1 cup sunflower oil


For the salad:
7 ounces canonigos**
2 ounces baby greens
1 small bunch chervil leaves
1 small bunch dill leaves
1 small bunch tarragon leaves
12 asparagus spears, top four inches only, blanched and sliced
 lengthwise
12 baby carrots, blanched and thinly sliced
12 seedless green grapes, peeled and halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


For the garnish:
Fennel fronds
Nasturtium petals


*Available through L'Epicerie, (866) 350-7575 or www.lepicerie.com.

**A wild plant native to Sicily but found throughout Europe. Leaves are crunchy and full of moisture. Has acidic and slightly sweet flavor. Maybe substitute mache or other greens.

Green Apple Soup with Pineapple (Serves 4)

Riesling

Grans-Fassians Apotheke

Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany 2000

For the pineapple ice cream: In saucepan, combine all ingredients and mix well. Heat to 185 degrees, stirring occasionally. Transfer to bowl, cover and refrigerate 12 hours. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

For the pineapple cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until softened. Add flour, salt and baking powder and mix until combined. Add eggs and pineapple and mix until incorporated. Spread batter onto parchment-lined sheet pan and cut into 1-inch squares. Transfer to separate parchment-lined sheet pan and bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

For the green apple soup: In food processor fitted with metal blade, combine apples and lemon juice and puree until smooth. Strain through fine-mesh sieve. Transfer to saucepan and heat to 95 degrees. Using hand-held immersion blender, blend in butter and water. Stir in coloring and let cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the apple slices: In saucepan, bring water and sugar to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to simmer. Using mandoline, thinly slice apples lengthwise. Working in batches, dip apples into sugar mixture and transfer to parchment-lined sheet pan. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the caramelized pineapple: In saucepot, combine water and sugar and cook over medium-high heat to form caramel. Remove from heat and whisk in butter. Continue to whisk vigorously until incorporated, then add pineapple. Stir to coat and transfer to Silpat[R]-lined sheet pan to cool. Store in airtight container until ready to serve.

For the pineapple foam: In food processor fitted with metal blade, puree pineapple until smooth. Transfer to bowl and stir in lecithin. Using hand-held immersion blender, blend until very frothy.

To serve: Fill juice glass 3/4 full of apple soup. Place cookie on plate and top with apple slices, quenelle of ice cream and pineapple foam. Garnish with caramelized pineapple and lemon thyme leaves and flowers and serve.

For the pineapple ice cream:
8 ounces pineapple puree*
8 ounces water
3 1/2 ounces heavy cream
1 1/2 ounces powdered milk
2 1/2 ounces dextrose
1/3 ounce glucose
1 1/4 ounces granulated sugar
1/3 ounce thyme leaves
1 teaspoon ice cream stabilizer


For the pineapple cookies:
5 1/2 ounces butter
11 ounces all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
8 1/2 ounces freeze-dried diced pineapple**


For the green apple soup:
5 green apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 ounce butter
16 ounces water
2 drops green food coloring


For the apple slices:
16 ounces water
2 ounces granulated sugar
2 green apples, halved and cored


For the caramelized pineapple:
1 ounce water
6 ounces granulated sugar
1 ounce butter
6 ounces pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice


For the pineapple foam:
6 ounces pineapple, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon lecithin***


For the garnish:
Lemon thyme leaves and flowers


*Available through L'Epicerie, (866) 350-7575 or www.lepicerie.com.

**Available through Oregon Freeze Dry (541) 926-6001 or www.ofd.com

***Egg-based emulsifier. Available in health food stores.

Foie Gras Soup with Lychees and Roses (Serves 2)

Gewurztraminer

St. Hyppoilte

Alsace, France 2002

For the foie gras soup: Combine cream and stock and bring to a boil. Add foie gras and cook until soup returns to a boil. Remove from heat, strain through fine-mesh sieve and season with salt. Set aside, keeping warm.

For the lychee gelatin: In saucepot, combine puree and agar-agar and bring to boil. Remove from heat, strain through fine-mesh sieve and pour mixture into bottoms of four serving bowls. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the rose preserves: In saucepot, combine marmalade, water and agar-agar and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, strain through fine-mesh sieve and refrigerate until chilled. Once chilled, mix well in Thermomix[R], transfer to squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the rose petals and powder: In saucepot, combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and gently stir in rose petals. Let sit at room temperature overnight, then drain petals and discard syrup. Dry petals in dehydrator until crispy. Reserve as many attractive petals as possible, and pulverize remaining petals in spice grinder to create powder. Store petals and powder separately in airtight containers.

To serve: Dispense several drops of rose preserves atop lychee gelatin to form a circle Garnish each drop of preserves with an herb leaf or flower petal and sprinkle plate with rose dust. Arrange three rose petals in center of plate Serve with soup alongside.

For the foie gras soup:
2 cups duck stock
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 pound duck foie gras, trimmed, veins removed, cut into chunks


For the lychee gelatin:
8 ounces lychee puree*
Pinch of agar-agar


For the rose preserves:
3 1/2 ounces rose jam**
1/4 cup water
Pinch of agar-agar


For the rose petals and powder:
1 pound granulated sugar
2 cups water
Petals from five organic roses


For the garnish:
Gewurtztraminer grapes, quartered
Chervil leaves
Rosemary leaves
Chive flowers
Nasturtium flowers


*Available through L'Epicerie, (866) 350-7575 or www.lepicerie.com.

**Available through kalustyan's, (800) 352-3451 or www.kalustyans.com.

Note: Thermomix[R] is a multi-function appliance. For more information, visit www.thermomix.com.

Deconstructed Crema Catalan (Serves 10)

Grenache Can Carreres

Masia Pairal

Emporda, Spain NV

For the orange sorbet: In saucepot, combine water, dextrose and sugar and bring to 104 degrees. Add stabilizer and continue to cook until mixture reaches 185 degrees. Remove from heat and chill in ice both until mixture is 40 degrees. Stir in juices and refrigerate mixture overnight. Process in ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions. Store in freezer until ready to serve.

For the lemon sorbet: In saucepot, combine water, dextrose and sugar and bring to 104 degrees. Add stabilizer and continue to cook until mixture reaches 185 degrees. Remove from heat and chill in ice bath to 40 degrees. Stir in juice and refrigerate mixture overnight. Process in ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions. Store in freezer until ready to serve.

For the spiced tuiles: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together spices and place in Thermomix[R], along with sugar and flour. Mix gently, then add egg whites and continue to mix until relatively homogenous. Slowly drizzle in butter, continuing to mix. Once all butter has been incorporated, remove batter from machine and, using two-inch wide rectangular stencils atop a Silpat[R]-lined baking sheet, make as many rectangular tuiles as possible. Bake in oven for three minutes. Remove from oven and immediately mold tuiles around cylindrical molds. Save broken pieces and grind to powder in spice grinder. Store powder and tuiles in airtight container until ready to serve.

For the caramel sauce: In saucepot, combine water and sugar and bring to boil. Let cook and caramelize until mixture reaches 350 degrees. Remove from heat, let rest one minute, then carefully add cream. Add creme fraiche and salt and whisk vigorously until well-combined and smooth. Transfer to clean container to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the crema Catalan foam: In saucepan, combine milk, zests and half of sugar and bring to boil. Meanwhile, whisk together egg, yolks and remaining sugar. Temper yolk mixture by adding one-third hot milk mixture to it while whisking constantly. Whisk tempered yolk mixture back into hot cream and return to heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture coats back of wooden spoon. Remove from heat, strain through fine-mesh sieve and stir in zests. Chill in ice bath. Transfer to whipped cream canister, pressuring with two charges of nitrous oxide. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve: Arrange small pile of tuile crumbs on one side of plate. Pack sorbets side-by-side in container and use large spoon to scoop out quenelle that has equal portions of each sorbet. Place quenelle atop crumbs. Arrange dab of caramel sauce in center of plate and top with one tuile, arranged vertically. Fill tuile with crema Catalan foam and top with granulated sugar. Use blowtorch to caramelize sugar and serve.

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For the orange sorbet:
4 ounces water
2 ounces dextrose
1 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
Pinch of sorbet stabilizer
8 ounces orange juice, strained
8 ounces lemon juice, strained


For the lemon sorbet:
4 ounces water
2 ounces dextrose
2 ounces granulated sugar
Pinch of sorbet stabilizer
8 ounces lemon juice


For the spiced tuiles:
Ground cinnamon to taste
Ground cloves to taste
Ground allspice to taste
Ground nutmeg to taste
7 ounces confectioners' sugar
6 ounces all-purpose flour
5 egg whites
6 1/2 ounces butter, melted


For the caramel sauce:
2 ounces water
10 ounces granulated sugar
4 ounces heavy cream, warmed to 100 degrees
2 ounces creme fraiche
Pinch of salt


For the crema Catalan foam:
18 ounces milk
2 ounces granulated sugar
1 egg
3 egg yolks
Grated orange zest to taste
Grated lemon zest to taste


For the garnish:
Granulated sugar


Note: Thermomix[R] is a multi-function appliance. For more information, visit www.thermomix.com.

A Trip to Havana (Serves 8)

Mojito cocktail

For the rum cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In electric mixer fitted with paddle, combine marzipan, eggs and yolks and mix until fluffy. Sift in cornstarch and baking powder while continuing to mix, then gradually add butter. Turn mix out onto parchment-lined sheet pan and bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with rum. Refrigerate until chilled, then use 1-inch round cutter to cut eight circles from cake. Cover and set aside until ready to serve.

For the lime soup: Dissolve agar-agar in small amount of water, then combine in saucepot with remaining water, sugar and zest and bring to boil. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and stir in juice. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the mint granita: Bring water to boil and blanch mint leaves 20 seconds. Drain mint, reserving cooking water. Refresh mint in ice bath mixed with baking soda. Drain mint, squeeze dry and set aside. Add trimolene, dextrose and gelatin to cooking water. Transfer mint and 1/2 cup liquid to Thermomix[R] and blend to puree mint. Stir in remaining liquid and transfer to shallow dish. Freeze, stirring every hour with fork.

For the frozen cigar: In saucepan, bring cream to boil, remove from heat and stir in gelatin and dextrose. Strain though fine-mesh sieve and chill in ice bath. Using stovetop liquid smoker, smoke cream mixture, using cigar for smoke source. Whip cream to stiff peaks, transfer to pastry bag fitted with # 10 tip and fill each chocolate "cigar." Seal ends with melted chocolate and freeze until ready to serve. Combine sugar and food coloring in airtight container with lid and shake firmly to distribute color. Set aside.

To serve: Place cake on plate, surround with lime soup and top with granita. Roll one end of "cigar" in colored sugar and place on plate or in clean ashtray. Arrange line of colored sugar at end of "cigar" to simulate ashes. Garnish granita and soup with drizzle of cane sugar syrup and serve.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For the rum cake:
11 1/2 ounces marzipan
2 eggs
8 egg yolks
2 ounces cornstarch
Pinch of baking powder
3 1/2 ounces butter
2 ounces dark rum


For the lime soup:
Pinch of agar-agar
7 ounces water
2 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
Zest of one lime
9 ounces lime juice


For the mint granita:
9 ounces water
1 ounce mint leaves
Pinch of baking soda
1 ounce trimolene*
Pinch of baking soda
1 ounce trimolene*
1 ounce dextrose
1/2 sheet gelatin, softened in cold water


For the frozen cigar:
12 ounces heavy cream
1 sheet gelatin, softened in cold water
2 1/2 ounces dextrose
1 high-quality cigar
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, tempered and rolled or molded into eight
 4-inch long, 1/2-inch diameter tubes, plus more, melted, for sealing
 ends
2 ounces granulated sugar
1 teaspoon black food coloring


For the garnish:
Cane sugar syrup**


*Liquid invert sugar that gives stability to frozen confections. Widely available through pastry suppliers.

**Available through Kalustyan's, (800) 352-3451 or www.kalustyans.com.

Note: Thermomix[R] is a multi-function appliance. For more information, visit www.thermomix.com.

CARLES ABELLAN COMERC 24 TAPAC 24

barcelona spain

"what are tapas?"

This is the question asked by Carles Abellan, Barcelona's king of the nueva tapa, who left behind the elBulli empire to return to his home city and a simpler way to put food on the table.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

ac: How did you come to be a chef?

ca: I was 20 years old, I liked to partly, and I liked the cook lifestyle. At the same time, the first hospitality school had just opened in Barcelona, and my mother encouraged me to apply. At that time, being a cook was not respected in the same way that it is now. If you didn't go to college, you were one of the "dumb" people. "Smart" people became doctors and lawyers, but that didn't interest me, so I went to the hospitality school. We were a new generation of cooks, being taught by the old-school chefs. This was 1984. My father paid for the first year, and after that I began to work to pay my tuition. I started my first job as a barman, but after two weeks I went to the owner and said, "Put me in the kitchen or I'm leaving." I was sent to the dish station. This was the first time I learned to really work. Within one year I was a sous chef in a simple restaurant. My next step was a Michelin one-star Belgian restaurant. I worked in two or three different restaurants after that.

ac: How did you meet Ferran Adria and find a place at elBulli?

ca: I was at a meeting of a young chefs' club in Barcelona, and Ferran Adria was there. I convinced him to let me do a stage at elBulli. I went for a stage and I stayed 15 years (laughing). It was a shock when I first went there, lost in the middle of a mountain, in the middle of nothing. The road was not even paved. It was awful. I stayed at elBulli for six years, then returned to Barcelona, worked in the catering division and the workshop. Then I worked at Hacienda Benazuza, the elBulli hotel in Sevilla. In all, I spent nine years working for Ferran. I saw an evolution in learning. I loved learning everything, helping the businesses to develop. In the beginning, we worked with no money at all. We were there for "the cause." It was a crazy environment. I loved it.

ac: Why, then, did you leave?

ca: I lived elBulli, and never left it. And I began to feel drawn to the personal challenge of tapas. Ferran could not pay very much, and I needed more money. I have a complicated personal life. When I told Ferran that I wanted to open my own restaurant, to make more money, he asked what I hoped to make, and perhaps he could match it. I gave him a number and he said, "Okay, go and open your restaurant," (laughing). That's a true story. I wanted to get paid. But I grew up at elBulli. Not just the elBulli that you know--the foams, the airs, hot gelatin--but the language of elBulli; the philosophy, the manner of working. Ferran is my maestro, a genius.

ac: Tell us about your restaurants, Comerc 24 and Tapac 24.

ca: Comerc 24 is something between a bar and a restaurant, a bar with the characteristics of a restaurant. We take reservations, we have a full kitchen, waiters, top-level service, linen napkins and tablecloths, and an extensive wine list. We offer tapas in a tasting menu format, with dishes presented in sequence. The food comes in waves, and each wave has three or four things, some of which are meant to be shared. That's how we maintain the feeling of a tapas bar. It's a dynamic restaurant, more fun, more young, not a high-end temple of gastronomy. We play ambient dance music, dim the lights more than you would see in a tapas bar.

We just opened Tapac 24 two weeks ago. It's a classic Spanish tapas bar, where the food has been modernized just a bit I don't want to say that it's casual. It's not a hippie bar. We take the food seriously, but there is no order to when the food arrives. We serve classic tapas, like patatas bravas, bombas, bikini. We serve fried fish, oxtail, stomach. It's casera food--home food. We don't use gelatin. It's not creative cuisine. It's not modern cuisine.

ac: What do you mean, then, when you say that the food has been "modernized"?

ca: Think of an older Mini Cooper car. Then think of the 2006 model. It has automatic windows, air conditioning, stereo, leather seats. It's the same car, with better details. The food at Tapac 24 is well done, properly done. The problem in Barcelona is that there has been a tapas boom, a boom in bar food, but much of it has been poor. What is tapas? What does it mean? It means only something served quickly, meant to be eaten quickly. For visitors, tapas is one of the four most-used words, a cliche used to describe the food of Spain. People know toro, paella, sangria and tapas.

ac: And what do you look for when hiring a cook for your kitchens?

ca: Cheap and fast (laughing). No, not really. You have to pay to get quality. Now, young kids come out of school and get a chef title very quickly, because they will work for less money. This is a bad thing, because the professional attitude has decreased. I prefer a cook with some experience, some knowledge of technique, but still young. I can't always get that. Sometimes cooks are drunk derelicts, or they are burned out.

They can learn a lot. My kitchen at Comerc 24 is small and antiquated. A cook might brag about coming to work here, and then they arrive and see how small and antiquated my kitchen is. It's not what they expect. So they learn that you don't need a state-of-the-art kitchen to make great food.

"Kinder Eggs" (Serves 6)

Brut Cava Clasico

Codorniu

Penedes, Spain NV

For the eggs: Using egg scissors, remove and reserve upper part of shell of six eggs. Remove and reserve eggs for another use and sterilize shells in boiling water two minutes. Drain and let dry on paper towels.

Cook remaining six eggs in boiling water three to four minutes, then drain and chill in ice bath two minutes. Use teaspoon to carefully break shells. Working over a bowl, remove and discard whites, emptying liquid yolks into bowl. Beat yolks with fork and season with truffle puree and salt to taste. Cover and set aside.

For the potato foam: Bring pot of salted water to boil and add potatoes. Cook until tender, then drain and return to dry pan to dry gently over heat. Mash with fork. In saucepan, bring cream to boil and combine potatoes and cream in Thermomix[R]. Add olive oil and salt and mix in Thermomix[R] until well-combined. Transfer mixture to whipped cream canister and charge with two charges of nitrous oxide. Hold canister in bain marie at 140 degrees until ready to serve.

To serve: Fill bottom half of each empty shell with yolk mixture. Finish filling each shell with potato foam, and serve.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For the eggs:
12 eggs
White truffle puree to taste*
Sea salt to taste


For the potato foam:
1/2 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste


*Available through markyscaviar.com or 800-522-8427

Note: Thermomix[R] is a multi-function appliance. For more information, visit www.thermomix.com.

Black Risotto with Shaved Cuttlefish and Parsley Allioli (Serves 6)

Brut Cava

B. Leopardi Llopart

Penedes, Spain 1999

For the parsley allioli: Add six cloves garlic to small pot of water and bring to boil. Once water boils, drain and refresh garlic. Repeat procedure twice. In Thermomix[R], combine all garlic, eggs, yolks and parsley and begin to blend. Slowly drizzle in oils and continue to blend until emulsified. Season with salt and transfer to squeeze bottle. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the risotto: In large skillet, heat oil over medium-low heat and add onions and garlic. Cook until vegetables are translucent and soft but not browned. Increase heat to medium and stir in rice. Cook, stirring frequently, three minutes, and stir in wine. Cook and stir until wine has been absorbed, then stir in water, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed. With the final addition of water, add cuttlefish ink and stir so that each grain of rice is coated. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve: Arrange risotto in line on rectangular plate and lop with cuttlefish. Drizzle allioli alongside and top with line of cuttlefish ink. Garnish with chives and serve.

For the parsley allioli:
7 cloves garlic, peeled
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 bunch coarsely chopped parsley leaves
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt to taste


For the risotto:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 pound bomba rice*
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons cuttlefish ink
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


For the garnish:
Cleaned and thinly sliced raw cuttlefish bodies
Cuttlefish ink
Finely chopped chives


*Short-grain rice grown in Valencia and most often used for paella.

Available through La Tienda, (800) 710-4304

Note: Thermomix[R] is a multi-function appliance. For more information, visit www.thermomix.com.

Artichoke and Cod Parfait (Serves 8)

Albarino

Torre Ia Moreira

Rias Baixas, Spain 2003

For the artichoke puree: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut off artichoke stems to form flat base. Snap off tough outer leaves closest to stem. Trim 1/2 inch from top of artichokes and use scissors to snip off prickly tips of outer leaves. Quarter lengthwise and remove hairy choke. Toss in bowl with lemon juice. Transfer artichokes and juice to skillet and add remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, then transfer to oven and roast 30 minutes, or until artichokes are tender and beginning to brown. Transfer to food processor fitted with metal blade and puree until smooth, adding more oil if necessary. Adjust seasoning and set aside.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For the cod: Place cod in large bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak two to three hours, then drain and replace water. Repeat procedure at least three more times over 24-hour period. Drain cod, remove any remaining bones and leave skin intact. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat and fry garlic until translucent and slightly browned. Remove and set aside. Break cod into chunks and add to pan, skin side up. Cook over low heat, occasionally agitating pan. When liquid in pan is nearly white, return garlic to pan and cook ten minutes, gently breaking up cod with wooden spoon. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and transfer to Thermomix[R] to puree until smooth. Adjust seasoning and transfer to pastry bag fitted with #10 tip.

To serve: Arrange dollop of artichoke puree in bottom of martini glass and top with cod mixture. Garnish with pine nuts, raisins, truffle oil and chives and serve.

For the artichoke puree:
6 large artichokes
Juice of 4 lemons
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
10 black peppercorns
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


For the cod:
1 pound salt cod
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


For the garnish:
Toasted pine nuts
Raisins macerated in sherry vinegar
Finely chopped chives
Black truffle oil


Galician Oysters with San Jorge Mushrooms (Serves 4)

Cava Kripta Gran Reserva

Agusti Torello

D.O. Cava, Spain 1999

For the oysters: Use an oyster knife to open each oyster and reserve shells and as much of the water inside as possible. Use knife to extract the oyster from its shell, and use scissors to remove the beard. Strain oyster water through fine-mesh sieve.

To serve: Arrange each oyster on half shell and drizzle with reserved water. Add mushrooms, drizzle with truffle oil and serve.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For the oysters:
4 Galician oysters
1 ounce young San Jorge mushrooms, trimmed*
Truffle oil to taste


*Trichloma gambosum, a white mushroom found in European pine forests. May substitute matsutake or other mushrooms.

Chocolate Gelato with Olive Oil and Strawberry Gelato with Strawberry Coulis (Serves 10)

Champagne

Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec

Reims, France NV

For the chocolate gelato: Place chocolate in large stainless steel bowl In soucepot, combine cream and vanilla and bring to boil. Remove from heat, pour over chocolate and let sit five minutes. Whisk to combine chocolate and cream and set aside. In saucepan, combine milk and half of sugar and bring to boll. Meanwhile, whisk together yolks and remaining sugar. Temper yolk mixture by adding one-third hot cream mixture to it while whisking constantly. Whisk tempered yolk mixture back into hot cream and return to heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture coats back of wooden spoon. Remove from heat and chill in ice bath. Combine chocolate mixture and cream mixture in Thermomix[R] and blend until well-combined. Transfer to Pacojet[R] beaker and freeze eight hours. Process ice cream in Pacojet[R] according to manufacturer's instructions.

For the strawberry gelato: Place chocolate and strawberry puree in large stainless steel bowl. In saucepot, bring cream to boil. Remove from heat, pour over chocolate and strawberry puree and let sit five minutes. Whisk to combine cream, puree and chocolate and set aside. In saucepan, combine milk and half of sugar and bring to boil. Meanwhile, whisk together yolks and remaining sugar. Temper yolk mixture by adding one-third hot cream mixture to it while whisking constantly. Whisk tempered yolk mixture back into hot cream and return to heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture coats back of wooden spoon. Remove from heat and chill in ice bath. Combine strawberry and chocolate mixture and cream mixture in Thermomix[R] and blend until well-combined. Transfer to Pacojet[R] beaker and freeze eight hours. Process ice cream in Pacojet[R] according to manufacturer's instructions.

For the strawberry coulis: Combine all ingredients in food processor fitted with metal blade and puree until smooth and glossy. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve: Arrange two quenelles each of chocolate and strawberry gelato on plate. Garnish chocolate gelato with olive oil, salt and toast. Garnish strawberry gelato with coulis and sliced strawberries and serve.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For the chocolate gelato:
7 ounces chocolate, 70% cocoa, finely chopped
9 ounces heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
9 ounces milk
3 ounces granulated sugar
5 egg yolks


For the strawberry gelato:
3 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
6 ounces strawberries, pureed and strained
9 ounces heavy cream
9 ounces milk
3 ounces granulated sugar
5 egg yolks


For the strawberry coulis:
1/2 pound strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
2 ounces granulated sugar
1/2 ounce lemon juice


For the garnish:
Thinly sliced baguette, toasted
Maldon[R] sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
Sliced strawberries


Note: Thermomix[R] is a multi-function appliance. For more information, visi-www.thermomix.com.

Note: Pacojet[R] is a machine used to make frozen confections to order. For more information, visit www.pacojel.com.

JORDI VILA ALKIMIA

barcelona spain

conversation with an alchemist

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

ac: Where did you grow up?

jv: I was born in Catalunya, in a small town just outside of Barcelona. I spent my childhood there, and I went to culinary school in Manresa.

ac: What circumstances made you want to become a chef?

jv: It was more like a feeling. My mother cooks very well, and I have always very much liked to eat. And I thought that it would be beautiful to be able to make these things that I remember eating. I never wanted to do anything but be a chef.

ac: How would you describe your style of cooking?

jv: I don't like to describe my style of cooking, because it's always changing, a little bit at a time. It depends on the moment. I think that I don't have a definite style. When I am a much older cook, then I can say that I have a style all my own. My style is influenced by Catalan cuisine, things like that, things that I see, things I believe in.

ac: What elements of your cooking represent traditional Catalan cuisine?

jv: My cooking is not traditionally Catalan in its presentation, but I use a number of traditional Catalan ingredients--dried fruits, olive oil, sofritos, picadas, all the things that come from this place. Catalan cooking, the flavor, it's always the point of departure for me, even if my presentation can be very different.

ac: Do you feel that you've been influenced by Ferran Adria?

jv: Yes, by his techniques, and his new concepts. I think there are a lot of young cooks who, and this is a new phenomenon, they have learned to think, or started to think, because of Ferran Adria. The questions they can ask, this is really a new thing, no? Before now, in the kitchen as a young cook, it was always, 'Yes, yes, yes.' All your life was 'Yes.' Now it's, 'Why is it this way and not that way?' Or they can come up with completely different questions on their own. His influence is everywhere, not just in Alkimia, but in many, many restaurants. We'll be talking about Ferran Adria many years from now. We've never known such an influence. It gives strength to everyone.

ac: Which other cooks, books, places or things provide inspiration to you?

jv: My type of cuisine is a little bit personal. A cuisine of emotions and sensation. I'm influenced by everything I see, every time I wake up and open my eyes. I'm inspired when I find an excellent-quality butter. Or when I see a photo of a beautiful oyster, or visit the sea. The colors of Barcelona--grey, black, white. When I go to a beautiful, rural, place--in the mountains. The colors I find there. All of these things inspire me.

ac: Where did you work before opening Alkimia?

jv: I've always worked in Catalunya--in the city, in the mountains, or at the beach, but always Catalunya. I have worked in about twenty different restaurants, some for as little as a month or two, some for a year, maybe a year and a half.

ac: Why did you choose such a minimalist decor for your restaurant?

jv: There are a number of reasons. We want to keep the diner's focus on the food. If I have a beautiful painting or a beautiful photograph on the wall, it distracts from the experience of the food. The second motivation is that, in a small restaurant, the more white space we have, the bigger we look. Third, it's much easier to rearrange a plain space that a highly decorated space.

ac: When did you get you first Michelin star?

jv: November 2004, on my birthday!

ac: Do you feel a great deal of pressure to maintain the star?

jv: Great pressure? No. It's bad to lose your star, sure, but we never work with the notion of maintaining a Michelin star. We work with a mind toward the things we believe in, the things we love. We are very happy to have a star, but it's not what motivates us to do better every day. We do better every day because we love what we do, and it makes us happy.

ac: Do you have plans to open a second restaurant?

jv: No, but it's always a possibility. I would want it to be something separate from Alkimia, something more fun, more like a bar. I have no specific plans, but I have a long career ahead of me.

ac: How many cooks work at Alkimia, and what qualities make them well-suited to work in your kitchen?

jv: There are seven cooks working with me. First, I look for them to be good people. If you have a good heart, it is much easier for you to work as part of a team. I look for someone for whom their work is their passion, who lives their work, not always looking at their watch. What a life it is! Cooking is my life, so I look for cooks who have that same attitude. And someone that can act professionally on the job, work on a team, get along with their co-workers, no screaming and crying.

ac: What do you think that a young cook can learn in your kitchen?

jv: To have respect for the product, to understand the product. To live the cuisine. To have love for the cuisine.

Brandade with Snails and Parsley Oil (Serves 6)

Verdejo

Basa

Rueda, Spain 2005

For the brandade: Place cod in large bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak two to three hours, then drain and replace water. Repeat procedure at least three more times over 24 hour period. After final soak, drain, pat dry and refrigerate in airtight container until ready to use. In small saucepan, combine oil, garlic and pepper and bring to simmer. Let cook over very low heat one hour, then remove and discard pepper and allow oil to cool to room temperature. Break fish into large flakes, using fork. Combine fish and cream in heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to simmer, mashing fish into cream. Add oil and garlic a little at a time, continuing to mash until all is incorporated. Season to taste and set aside.

For the snails: Plunge snails into heavily salted cold water bath, agitate to loosen sand and grit, and drain, Bring large pot of salted water to boil, add snails and cook 45 minutes. Add thyme and rosemary to pot, remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

For the garlic and parsley cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle, combine all ingredients and mix to form soft dough. Transfer dough to work surface and gently roll into 2-inch diameter log. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes. Cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds, transfer to sheet pan lined with Silpat[R] mat and bake 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and store in airtight container until ready to serve.

For the garlic and parsley oil: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roast garlic cloves until soft and browned. Squeeze garlic from skins and combine in blender with parsley and oil. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and reserve in airtight container.

To serve: Warm brandade and arrange in center of deep plate. Top with six snails and crumble garlic and parsley cake over. Pour garlic and parsley oil around the brandade, garnish with arugula and serve.

For the brandade:
7 ounces salt cod
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 guindilla pepper*
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


For the snalls:
24 snails
10 sprigs thyme
10 sprigs rosemary


For the garlic and parsley cake:
3 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
3 1/2 ounces butter, softened
1 egg
3 1/2 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 clove garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves


For the garlic and parsley oil:
1 2 cloves garlic
1 bunch parsley
1 cup sunflower oil
Salt to taste


For the garnish:
Arugula leaves


*Long, thin Spanish peppers with moderate heat. Available through Despania, (718) 779-4971.

Monkfish with Asparagus, Mushrooms and "Smoked Earth" (Serves 4)

Chardonnay

Can Feixas

Penedes, Spain 2004

For the "smoked earth": Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix by hand to form homogenous mass. Let rest 30 minutes, then break up by hand to form crumbs. Transfer to Silpat[R]-lined sheet pan and bake in oven six minutes. Let cool to room temperature and store in airtight container until ready to serve.

For the asparagus: Bring medium pot of salted water to boil and cook asparagus for eight minutes. Drain, let cool to room temperature and cover with cooking liquid. Set aside until ready to serve.

For the mushrooms: Heat oil in saute pan over high heat. Add mushrooms and saute until golden and tender, about two minutes. Season with salt and set aside.

For the mushroom sauce: Combine all ingredients in Thermomix[R] and blend until emulsified. Season with salt.

For the monkfish: Heat skillet over high heat. Season fish with salt and sear in pan one minute, then add oil and cook three minutes. Turn and cook another three minutes, or until cooked through.

To serve: Preheat grill and grill-mark asparagus and mushrooms. Arrange dollop of mushroom sauce on plate. Arrange asparagus, mushrooms and monkfish alongside. Sprinkle "smoked earth" around fish, garnish with chive blossoms and serve.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For the "smoked earth":
5 1/2 ounces butter
3 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
2 ounces almond flour
1/4 ounce smoked tea leaves
3/2 ounce muscovado sugar
Salt to taste


For the asparagus:
4 white asparagus spears
Granulated sugar to taste
Salt to taste


For the mushrooms:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
7 ounces San Jorge mushrooms, halved*
Salt to taste


For the mushroom sauce:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup mushroom stock
Pinch of xanthan gum**
Salt to taste


For the monkfish:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 7-ounce monkfish fillets
Salt to taste


For the garnish:
Chive blossoms


*Trichloma gambosum, a white mushroom found in European pine forests. May substitute matsutake or other mushrooms.

**Powder with binding and emulsifying properties, cerived from the microorganism Xanthonomonas campestris. Available through TIC Gums, (800) 899-3953 or www.ticgums.com.

Chicken Cannelloni with Cucumber and Apple Salad (Serves 4)

Grenache

Bodegas Borsao

Campo de Borja, Spain 2004

For the chicken: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in pan and roast in oven 30 to 45 minutes, until chicken skin and vegetables are browned. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. Skin and debone chicken, chop finely and set aside. Transfer vegetables, herbs and cooking liquid to food processor and pulse until somewhat homogenous but still chunky. Pass through fine-mesh sieve and mix with chicken. Season to taste, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the manchego cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle, combine all ingredients and mix to form soft dough. Transfer dough to work surface and gently roll into 2-inch thick log. Cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds, transfer to sheet pan lined with Silpat[R] mat and bake 12 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and store in airtight container until ready to use.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For the almond sauce: Combine all ingredients in Thermomix[R] and mix, using heat, until homogenous.

For the pasta: In medium bowl, mix together all ingredients until just combined. Transfer dough to lightly-floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest two hours. Divide dough into two pieces and roll each through pasta machine, starting on the thickest setting and finishing on second to thinnest setting. Cut into 3-inch x 7-inch sheets. Set aside on lightly floured sheet pan.

For the cucumber and apple salad: Combine water and sugar in saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool. Arrange cucumbers, apples and radishes in shallow dish and toss with syrup and vinegar. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

To serve: Gently warm chicken and almond sauce until heated through. Bring pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and simmer until cooked. Remove from heat and drain. Divide chicken mixture among pasta sheets and roll to form cannelloni. Place one on center of plate, cover with almond sauce and crumble manchego cake on top. Drain cucumbers, apples and radishes and arrange on plate, along with endive and mint. Season salad with salt to taste and serve.

For the chlcken filling:
4 chicken legs
4 onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 stick of cinnamon
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup brandy
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


For the manchego cake:
7 ounces manchego cheese, grated
5 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
5 1/2 ounces butter
1 egg white


For the almond sauce:
7 ounces almond butter
3/4 cup water
Salt to taste


For the cucumber and apple salad:
1 cup water
2 ounces granulated sugar
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup Chardonnay vinegar


For the cannelloni dough:
9 ounces all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of salt


To serve:
1/2 head endive, cored and coarsely chopped
4 mint leaves, chiffonade
Salt to taste


Baba with Almond Ice Cream and Rosemary Granita (Serves 10)

Can Carreres al Dulce

Masia Pairal

Emporda, Spain NV

For the almond ice cream: Combine all the ingredients in Thermomix[R] and blend 15 minutes, until smooth and homogenous. Cover and refrigerate 12 hours. Freeze in ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions. Store in freezer until ready to serve.

For the rosemary granita: In medium pot, bring water to 145 degrees and add rosemary. Let simmer at constant temperature for three hours. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vodka. Transfer to shallow baking pan and freeze, occasionally stirring with fork to break up large chunks.

For the baba: Combine flour, sugar, yeast and eggs in bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle and mix until just combined. Add butter and salt and continue to mix to form smooth dough. Let dough rise 30 minutes, then punch down and let rise another 30 minutes. Divide dough into 10 equal pieces and place in individual greased baking molds. Let rise one hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake 40 minutes.

For the rosemary and juniper cream: In small pot over medium heat, bring cream, rosemary and juniper to boil. In bowl, whisk together yolks and honey until smooth. Temper yolk mixture by adding one-third hot cream mixture while whisking constantly. Whisk tempered yolk mixture back into hot cream and place over low heat. Squeeze excess water from gelatin and add to mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved. Strain through fine-mesh sieve and chill in ice bath. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the dark caramel: In saucepan, combine fondant and glucose and bring to a boil. Continue to cook to 375 degrees, then remove from heat. Stretch caramel into shapes and let cool.

For the lemon, honey and amaretto bath: Whisk together all ingredients, cover and refrigerate until 15 minutes before serving.

To serve: Cut baba into three pieces, arrange on plate and drizzle with bath. Place two scoops rosemary and juniper cream alongside. Top with granita and ice cream, garnish with caramel and almonds and serve.

For the almond Ice cream:
14 ounces water
6 1/2 ounces almond paste
Pinch of salt
2 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
1 1/2 ounces ProCrema[R]*
1 ounce amaretto
3 drops almond oil


For the rosemary granita:
8 ounces water
8 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 ounce granulated sugar
Dash of 80 proof vodka or other neutral spirit


For the baba:
1 pound 2 ounces all-purpose flour
1 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
1 1/2 ounces active dry yeast
4 eggs
4 1/2 ounces butter
Pinch of salt


For the rosemary and Juniper cream:
9 ounces heavy cream
10 sprigs fresh rosemary
Pinch of ground juniper berries
3 egg yolks
2 ounces honey
3 1/2 sheets gelatin, softened in cold water


For the dark caramel:
5 1/2 ounces fondant
2 1/2 ounces glucose


For the lemon, honey and amaretto bath:
7 ounces honey
5 1/2 ounces lemon juice
3 ounces amaretto
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest


For the garnish:
Slivered almonds, toasted


*ProCrema is an ice cream base to which sugar and water are added. Available through www.procrema.it.

Note: Thermomix[R] is a multi-function appliance. For more information, visit www.thermomixcom.

Note: Pacojet[R] is a machine used to make frozen confections to order. For more information visit www.pacojet.com.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

SANTI SANTA MARIA CAN FABES

sant celoni spain

liberty, management and the personal culinary universe

For nearly thirty years, Santi Santamaria and his wife Angels have owned and operated Can Fabes, located in Sant Celoni, a small town about an hour's drive north of Barcelona. Can Fabes was the first restaurant in Catalunya to receive three Michelin stars, in 1993; it has also earned the prestigious Relais Gourmands designation.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

ac: What is the basis of your culinary philosophy?

ss: Does great cuisine exist without great product? I sincerely believe not. My passion is to find what is best in nature for human beings. Proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, Montseny Mountain--these contribute on extraordinary variety to the contents of my cooking. Robbing nature of its culinary jewels, be they animals or vegetables, turns us into unmalicious thieves. Our sins are redeemed thanks to what we give back to society through cuisine. This cuisine of simplicity is based on altering the product as little as possible, transforming it quickly and precisely, and partnering it with condiments, spices, herbs and the like that propel us toward both gustatory memory and new sensations.

ac: Local products are obviously of extreme importance in your cooking. How do you define "local"?

ss: My passion for locality comes from the idea that every being has its individual universe, and mine holds wild asparagus, mushrooms from Montseny Mountain and red mullet from Blanes. Though my universe has no borders and doesn't belong to any political state, it includes Provence, for example, and I don't mind accepting ingredients like Rosellon ducks. Products are obviously essential, but without internal feeling, passion and intuition, my cuisine would be only recipes, and as [Alain] Chapel said, "Cuisine is something more than recipes."

ac: You were dissuaded by your parents from going to art school in favor of training as a technical draftsman. Do you regret not having studied culinary arts instead?

ss: Having had a technical career has given me organizational skills that I've been able to apply to the restaurants. I know what it tokes to manage people with a humanistic and entrepreneurial vision. We've seen many establishments close when the creative genius chef is also managing his own place, leading to such chaos that he ends up having to offer frozen fish instead of fresh. It's not easy to direct a team of people and create excellent cuisine. Without business stability, it's impossible. My passion for the arts, and the sensibility that I try to communicate through my cooking, is the result of my professional coherence. However, I haven't forgotten the state of my soul. That balance is what gives Can Fabes its intensity.

ac: For many chefs, the summer season is the most abundant and varied, but you've said that the summer is the most difficult season for you, in terms of there not being available the products that you most enjoy using. Why is that?

ss: In my region of Montseny, hunting happens in autumn and winter. It's a land of mushrooms. The seafood from cold water is superb. The heat bothers me, whereas the cold confines me to on atmosphere where the home's fires move the heart. The winter dictates that we lead a more pastoral life.

ac: Why do you think that Spanish gastronomy has become so important to the rest of the world in the past 25 or 30 years?

ss: Spanish gastronomy is known in the world today because the towns of Spain rose with the advent of our liberty. We're breaking through the cliches of the Spain that, at the time of [Franco's] dictatorship, was sad and dark, poor and antiquated. In the case of Catalunya, it's evident that for 40 years, our culture was silenced and, in the most difficult years, persecuted. That situation influenced all creative realms. The generation of cooks that lived and worked through that period and made the transition to democracy understands this. The new generation is less locally-rooted, less devoted to the quality of the product, and relies on experimentation more as a form of distinguishing themselves than because they truly believe in it. Creativity can also be found in the traditional kitchen. It is absurd to think that the creative act only lies in the unknown.

ac: What are your thoughts on chefs' growing interest in working with foams, gelatins and other avant-garde gastronomic techniques?

ss: The avant-garde is like success -it disappears quickly. Gastronomy is much more than learned techniques. We can explore the sense of taste, the power of seduction, the ability to teach and learn, with a single leaf of parsley. I only understand culinary techniques if they serve to improve the product and, in the end, make the diner happy.

ac: What do you think is the future of Spanish gastronomy?

ss: I see the future as magnificent, if the young cooks learn that life is a balance between the memory of taste and the pleasure of the new. If they convert their culinary experiences, taking into account that for an artist, it is fundamental to learn techniques and not to give up being a craftsman; that cooking is a craft, and that inspiration is born with practice. We need perhaps a little less aesthetics and a little more soul.

Pea Soup with Cured Octopus and Bacalao Crackers (Serves 4)

Arneis Roero

Vietti

Piedmont, Italy 2001

For the octopus: In bowl, combine salt, sugar and paprika. Spread half of mixture on sheet pan. Place octopus on mixture and cover with remaining mixture. Let cure one hour, then brush off excess mixture and freeze for two days. Defrost. In tall-sided pot, heat oil to 200 degrees. Cook octopus in oil until firm, maintaining temperature of oil at 200 degrees, Remove from oil, cut into portions and set aside.

For the cod: Place cod in bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak two to three hours, then drain and replace water. Repeat procedure at least three more times over 24-hour period. After final soak, drain, pat dry and refrigerate in airtight container until ready to use. In small saucepan, combine oil and garlic and bring to simmer. Cook over low heat 15 minutes, then allow oil to cool to room temperature. Break fish into flakes using fork and place in heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Add oil and garlic a little at a time, continuing to mash with fork until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to pastry bag fitted with small tip and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the crackers: In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine flour, water and yeast. Let rest 10 minutes, then add salt and mix on low speed for 10 minutes. Let rest 35 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On floured work surface, knead dough briefly and roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut circles from dough using 1-inch round pastry cutter. Bake on sheet pan until puffed and brown, about five minutes. Let cool and store in airtight container until ready to use.

For the pea soup: In saute pan, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add scallions and cook until softened. Stir in peas and stock and bring to boil. Simmer just until peas are tender, about two minutes. Transfer to food processor fitted with metal blade and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and chill over ice water bath to preserve color. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve: In saucepan, heat soup to simmer. Place peas, parsley and slices of octopus in shallow bowl. Pipe cod into crackers and arrange atop peas. Ladle soup around and serve.

For the octopus:
2 pounds kosher salt
1 pound granulated sugar
1/2 pound paprika
2 pound octopus, cleaned
2 quarts canola oil


For the cod:
2 ounces salt cod
2 ounces olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


For the crackers:
9 ounces all-purpose flour
5 ounces water
1/4 ounce compressed fresh yeast
1/4 ounce salt


For the pea soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 scallions, white part only, coarsely chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups peas
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


For the garnish:
Blanched peas
Parsley leaves


Stuffed Rabbit Saddle with Roasted Potatoes, Shallots and Olives (Serves 4)

Pascale Jolivet Sancerre

Le Chateau du Nozay

Loire Valley, France 2004

For the rabbit: Bone rabbit, leaving last leg bones and meat intact. Reserve liver and kidneys for stuffing.

For the stuffing: In saute pan, heat oil over high heat. Season liver and kidneys with salt and pepper and sear one minute per side. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Add almonds to pan and saute until browned and fragrant. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Add bread to pan and fry until browned on all sides. Transfer to bowl with liver, kidneys, almonds, garlic and parsley. In saucepan, bring wine to boil and add nora pepper. Add to bread mixture and toss to combine. Season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Fill rabbit with stuffing, roll into cylinder and tie firmly with twine. Heat large pot of water to 185 degrees. Seal rabbit in Cryovac[R] bag and cook in water 30 minutes. Transfer in bag to ice bath.

For the potatoes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl, toss together potatoes, three tablespoons oil and one tablespoon vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven until tender, about 35 minutes. Meanwhile in separate bowl, toss shallots with remaining oil and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven until tender, about 20 minutes. Combine potatoes, shallots and olives and drizzle with vinegar. Keep warm.

To serve: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In saute pan, heat oil and butter over high heat. Remove rabbit from bag. Pat rabbit dry, season with salt and pepper and brown on all sides. Transfer to oven to finish cooking. Let rabbit rest five minutes and remove twine. Arrange on plate with potatoes. Garnish with bouquet garni, salt and herbes de Provence and serve.

For the rabbit:
2 1/2 pound rabbit


For the stuffing:
3 tablespoons canola oil
Rabbit liver and kidneys, from above
25 whole almonds
3 slices rustic bread, crusts removed, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, roasted
10 parsley leaves, finely chopped
3/4 cup white wine
1/2 dried nora pepper, soaked, peeled and finely chopped*
Olive oil to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


For the potatoes:
2 potatoes, cut into wedges
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 shallots, peeled and halved
3 ounces pitted black olives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


To serve:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


For the garnish:
Bouquet garni
Coarse sea salt
Herbes de Provence


*Mild red Spanish cherry pepper. Available through La Tienda, (800) 710-4304 or www.latienda.com

Blood Orange Bavarian with Lemon Cake and Blood Orange Sorbet (Serves 8)

Muscat

Bodegas Gutierrez de la Vega

Alicante, Spain 2003

For the blood orange gelee: Bring two ounces juice to simmer in small saucepan over low heat. Squeeze excess water from gelatin and stir into juice. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until gelatin is dissolved. Stir in remaining juice, bring to simmer and remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the blood orange bavarian: In saucepan, combine sugar, glucose and 1/3 of juice and bring to simmer. Squeeze excess water from gelatin and stir into juice mixture. Continue to cook over low heat until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat and, in large bowl, combine mixture with remaining juice. Chill in ice bath and slowly fold in whipped cream until all is incorporated. Divide mixture among eight two-inch diameter hemisphere molds and transfer to freezer.

For the lemon cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle, combine cream, one ounce flour, one ounce sugar and yeast. Mix until combined, then cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 45 minutes. In clean bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle, combine eggs and remaining sugar and mix five minutes on medium speed. Add cream and lemon juice and mix until well-combined. Add flour and yeast mixture to egg mixture, along with remaining flour. Mix until well-combined and drizzle in butter. Once butter is incorporated, turn mixture out onto parchment-lined sheet pan and spread to 1/4-inch thickness. Bake in oven 35 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and cut cake into circles, using round, two-inch diameter cutter. Cover and set aside until ready to serve.

For the creme anglaise: In saucepot, combine milk, cream and vanilla and bring almost to boil. Remove from heat and let steep 10 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yolks, sugar and salt. Temper yolk mixture by adding one-third hot milk mixture while whisking constantly. Whisk tempered yolk mixture back into hot milk mixture and place over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon. Strain through fine-mesh sieve. Set aside in ice water bath until chilled.

For the blood orange sorbet: Combine sugar and water in saucepot and bring to a boil. Squeeze excess water from gelatin and add to mixture, stirring until completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in juice. Chill over ice bath and refrigerate eight hours. Process in ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions. Keep frozen until ready to serve.

To serve: Remove bavarian halves from molds and assemble to form spheres, pressing slightly to adhere. Place cake on plate, top with bavarian and drizzle with gelee. Place quenelle of sorbet alongside and drizzle plate with creme anglaise and gelee. Garnish with pistachios and mint and serve.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For the blood orange gelee:
10 1/2 ounces blood orange juice
2 sheets gelatin, softened in cold water


For the blood orange sorbet:
5 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
2 ounces water
2 sheets gelatin, softened in cold water
12 ounces blood orange juice


For the blood orange bavarian:
2 ounces granulated sugar
1 1/2 ounces glucose
10 1/2 ounces blood orange juice
4 sheets gelatin, softened in cold water
1 3/4 cups heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks


For the lemon cake:
2 1/2 ounces heavy cream
5 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
5 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
1/4 ounce active dry yeast
3 eggs
2 1/2 ounces lemon juice
1 ounce butter, melted


For the creme anglaise:
4 ounces milk
4 ounces heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 egg yolks, chilled
2 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
Pinch of salt


For the garnish:
Finely ground pistachios
Mint leaves


JORDI BUTRON ESPAI SUCRE

barcelona spain

the sweet life

Jordi Butron is co-owner, with Xano Saguer, of Espai Sucre, which encompasses both a full-sew-ice dessert restaurant and a professional-level pastry school.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

ac: Why did you want to become a chef?

jb: I don't really know yet. I studied to be a high school teacher first, but found myself wanting to do something different. I enrolled in a three-year cooking degree program here in Barcelona, and I always enjoyed pastry the best, but not because I was meant to be a pastry chef. I could tell, early on, that pastry shop work wasn't my thing, because it's a very repetitive discipline. What I really enjoy about a restaurant kitchen is the constant change, the immediacy, the playful aspect of it all. It's livelier. It changes constantly. Pastry shop fare has been around for centuries, but restourant pastry is a rather new discipline which started with nouvelle cuisine, with the obsession of chefs who were also pastry chefs, like Michel Guerard, the prototypical chef-pastry chef.

ac: How would you describe your cooking style?

jb: It's very hard to say. It's not that I don't have a defined style. It's rather that I don't like to talk about "a style". I prefer to think about my ticks or obsessions. My obsession, above all, is for each ingredient I use to taste like what it is, and nothing else. My second obsession is to give some equilibrium to these flavors, meaning that one should not overpower the others. These two obsessions are really based on a third, which is the complete knowledge of the product. Without, it's impossible to control the other two.

ac: Are there elements of your cooking that represent traditional Catalan cuisine?

jb: The question of using your roots is deeply related to your environment and your clientele. I don't really believe in nationalisms, whether political or gastronomic. Today, with the internet and air shipping, any ingredient you might want to use, you can get. It's a bit absurd to close doors. My priority is not the origin of the product, but rather its flavor. I couldn't care less if it is Catalan, American, Russian or whatever.

ac: How do you feel that your work as a chef in Catalunya has been influenced by Ferran Adria?

jb: Ferran is like a locomotive, at the front of the train that represents Spanish cooking it's inevitable that his influence can be seen in what everyone here is doing. I think that with a historical point of view, he has been, is, and will be the person who has taken Spanish cuisine, and this includes pastry, to the forefront and made it known. History will thank him for that.

ac: Who or what else would you count among your influences?

jb: Everything that I are as a kid. My parents cooked, and my grandmother, who is now 98, was a great cook. Another person who has greatly influenced me is Pierre Gagnaire. During my formative years I staged at his restaurant, which was on absolute shock. Before this I only had experience with traditional pastry. Gagnaire broke my framework completely. His kitchen is rooted in the classical, but it breaks the mold. There are no laws, and everything is possible. I did other stages, at Michel Bras in Laguiole, then at elBulli, maybe 15 years ago but for me, Gagnaire broke the rules. He helped me see that there were many paths.

ac: In addition to those stages, where did you work before Espai Sucre?

jb: I worked in a very well-known pastry shop here in Barcelona, called Escriba, then I worked in lesser-known shops. I also worked in the 1992 Seville World Expo pavilion, and then at Jean Luc Figueres, Jean Luc gave me carte-planche, to some extent. This is invaluable when someone is growing as a chef, like I was.

ac: Do you have plans for a second or third restaurant?

jb: Espai Sucre only slarted seven years ago. In the beginning, the restaurant and school were in this same place. Now the restaurant is here, but the school is separate, When we started, we had 12 students; now we have 42. We're growing little by little, and we've had two proposals from Japanese investors to open a restaurant in Japan. We've said no, because we want to keep control of our work. We would never give our name or franchise if we cannot control the quality of the desserts. But we have several current projects, including an Espai Sucre book.

ac: What qualities do you look for in on employee?

jb: (Laughing) Well, most of our stagiers come from our own school, so what they do at the restaurant complements what they learn in class. We look for a willingness to do everything, because we already have people in the restaurant who can leach technique. We value strength and willingness more than experience.

ac: What can a cook learn in your kitchen?

jb: When someone comes to work or stage here, or attends the school, they learn to have control over flavor If you want a certain effect, you have to build the dessert in such a way so that your theoretical intention is expressed at a gustative level. For example, if I want a dessert to have raspberries, cheese and pepper, I need to under-stand the flavor profile of the raspberry, the cheese and the pepper, and what other flavors go well with it. I have to measure and adjust the quantities of each ingredient at a very accurate level, and ask which techniques should I use for each flavor, and how I should plate the dessert. Today the distinction between cook and pastry cook is very small, and the essence is to control flavor. You can learn this at a theoretical level, but it takes time to learn this in a practical sense.

Lemon Verbena Soup with Green Apple and Spicy Yogurt Ice Cream (Serves 4)

Moscato D'Asti

Cardinale Lantana

Villa Lantana, Italy 2005

For the spicy yogurt ice cream: In saucepan, bring cream and pepper to boil, remove from heat, cover and let infuse ten minutes. Strain through fine-mesh sieve into bowl and add remaining ingredients. Mix well with immersion blender. Chill in refrigerator eight hours, then process in ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions.

For the apple gelatin: In saucepan, combine water and half of apples. Squeeze excess water from gelatin and add to mixture. Bring to boil and add remaining apples and agar-agar. Remove from heat, transfer to six-inch square mold and refrigerate until set.

For the honey gelatin: In saucepan, combine honey, water and agar-agar. Bring to boil, remove from heat and let cool to 80 degrees. Pour mixture atop apple gelatin. Refrigerate to set completely. Cut into 3/4-inch x 2-inch rectangles, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the lemon verbena soup: Combine water, sugar and lemongrass in pot and bring to boil. Remove from heat, add lemon verbena, cover and allow to infuse five minutes. Squeeze excess water from gelatin and add to soup, stirring well to dissolve. Let mixture cool and set, then strain through fine-mesh sieve. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the lime cream: In top of double boiler, whisk together zest, sugar, juice and eggs and cook over low heat, stirring continuously, until mixture has thickened and reached 180 degrees. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, a bit at a time, until all is incorporated. Set aside.

For the fennel syrup: In saucepot, bring water and sugar to boil, add fennel and cook three minutes. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and stir in anisette. Let fennel cool in cooking liquid, then strain through fine-mesh sieve, discarding fennel. Cover syrup and set aside.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For the pineapple foam: In bowl, whisk together pineapple juice, anisette and lecithin. Chill in refrigerator, then foam with immersion blender.

To serve: Place dollop of lime cream in center of bowl and top with apple-honey gelatin. Pour in soup and top with quenelle of ice cream and pineapple foam. Drizzle with fennel syrup. Garnish with apple, pineapple and fennel and serve.

For the spicy yogurt ice cream:
3 ounces heavy cream
pinch of ground pink peppercorns
1/8 ounce ground black pepper
6 ounces yogurt
1/8 ounce vodka or other neutral spirit
1/2 ounce dextrose
1 ounce sorbet stabilizer
1/8 ounce glycerin


For the apple gelatin:
1/4 cup water
6 ounces peeled and pureed Granny Smith apples
1 1/2 sheets gelatin, softened in cold water
Pinch of agar-agar


For the honey gelatin:
4 1/2 ounces honey
1/4 cup water
1/2 ounce agar-agar
Apple gelatin, from above


For the lemon verbena soup:
1 quart water
4 ounces granulated sugar
1-inch stalk lemongrass
1/2 ounce lemon verbena leaves
3 sheets gelatin, softened in cold water


For the lime cream:
Grated zest of 1 lime, plus juice of 4 limes
3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 ounces butter


For the fennel syrup:
1 quart water
10 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
1/2 fennel bulb, cored and julienned
1/2 ounce Maria Brizard[R] anisette


For the pineapple foam:
1 quart pineapple juice
11 ounces Marie Brizard[R] anisette
1/2 ounce lecithin*


To serve:
Julienned green apple
Diced pineapple
Julienned fennel


*Egg-based emulsifier. Available in health food stores.

Carrot Cake with Orange Sorbet, Coconut Mousse and Tapioca (Serves 4)

For the orange sorbet: In saucepan, combine one ounce orange juice, trimolene and glucose. Heal to 104 degrees, then add fructose. Heat mixture to 185 degrees, then remove from heat. When cool, add remaining orange juice, lemon juice, zest and liqueur. Cover and refrigerate eight hours. Process in ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions. Store in freezer until ready to serve.

For the tapioca: In saucepan, combine water, sugar, lemongrass and ginger and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let steep 10 minutes. Return to heat, bring to simmer and add tapioca. Cook 30 minutes over low heat, until tapioca is soft but still white in the center. Remove from heat, drain tapioca and set aside.

For the carrot cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate eggs and set aside whites for later use. Combine yolks, half the sugar, almond flour, and cornstarch in bowl and mix with wooden spoon to create dough. In separate bowl, combine rum, zest and juice. Combine both mixtures and add grated carrot. Beat egg whites with remaining sugar to soft peaks and fold into the dough in Iwo parts. Transfer batter to buttered and floured cake pan and bake 45 minutes.

For the carrot gelatin: In saucepan, combine half of carrot juice with powdered gelatin and bring almost to a boil, stirring constantly. Just before mixture boils, remove from heat. Squeeze excess water from gelatin Stir golatin and remaining juice into mixture. Stir to dissolve gelatin and transfer to shallow pan. Let gelatin set in refrigerator, cover and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

For the coconut mousse: In saucepan, warm puree over low heat. Squeeze excess water from gelatin and stir into puree. Continue to stir until gelatin has dissolved, then remove from heat and transfer to refrigerator to chill until thickened. In bowl of electric mixer, combine cream and sugar and whip to soft peaks. Combine the two mixtures. Fold coconut mixture into cream mixture, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For the powdered orange zest: Preheat oven to 175 degrees. In small saucepan, combine sugar and water and bring to boil. Cook until sugar dissolves, then remove from heat and set aside. Blanch zest in boiling water three times, draining and refreshing each time. Transfer zest to syrup and simmer until translucent. Transfer to Silpat[R]-lined sheet pan and dry in oven. Pulverize dried zest in spice grinder and store in airtight container until ready to use.

For the carrot strips: In saucepot, combine sugar and water and bring to boil. Cook until sugar dissolves, then add carrot strips and cook five minutes Drain and let cool on Silpat[R]-lined sheet pan.

To serve: Warm carrot cake in oven and tapioca on stovetop. Arrange coconut mousse on plate and arrange powdered orange zest alongside. Add portion of cake and top with portion of gelatin. Place quenelle of sorbet atop cake, top with carrot strips and tapioca and serve.

For the orange sorbet:
3 1/2 ounces orange juice
5 1/2 ounces trimolene*
1 ounce glucose
1/4 ounce fructose
1 ounce lemon juice
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
1 ounce orange liqueur


For the tapioca:
24 ounces water
3 ounces granulated sugar
2-inch stalk lemongrass
1-inch piece ginger, peeled
2 ounces semi-cooked tapioca pearls
1/2 ounce ginger juice
Zest and juice of 1/2 lime


For the carrot cake:
3 eggs
3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
5 1/2 ounces almond flour
1/2 ounce cornstarch
2 ounces white rum
Grated zest and juice of one orange
7 ounces carrot, grated


For the carrot gelatin:
16 ounces carrot juice
1/4 ounce powdered gelatin
1 sheet gelatin, softened in cold water


For the coconut mousse:
18 ounces coconut puree
4 sheets gelatin, softened in cold water
7 ounces heavy cream
2 1/2 ounces granulated sugar


For the powdered orange zest:
14 ounces granulated sugar
1 quart water
Zest of two oranges


For the carrot strips:
1 quart water
14 ounces granulated sugar
1 medium carrot, cut into strips


For the garnish:
Toasted coconut
Lime zest


Smoked Brioche with Butter Ice Cream (Serves 4)

Tokaji Aszu, 4 Puttonyos

Dosznoko

Tokaji, Hungary, 1998

For the smoked brioche: In electric mixer fitted with paddle, combine yeast, water and milk and mix until yeast is dissolved. Add sugar and three ounces flour and mix to form thick dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in warm place for 45 minutes. Add remaining flour and salt and begin to mix on low speed, then add four eggs and liquid smoke. Continue to mix two minutes, or until eggs are absorbed. Increase speed to medium and mix five minutes. Begin to add butter one ounce at a time, letting each addition become absorbed before adding the next. When all buffer has been incorporated, transfer dough to oiled bowl, and turn dough so that entire surface is covered with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume. Punch dough down, knead gently and return to bowl. Cover and transfer to refrigerator for four to twelve hours. Spray four mini loaf pans with cooking spray. On floured work surface, turn dough out and divide into four even pieces, covering all but one with plastic wrap. Dust one piece of dough with flour and use rolling pin to roll out to rectangle that is twice as long but the same width as one mini loaf pan. Roll dough on itself like a jellyroll and transfer to prepared pan, seam side down. Gently press dough so that it contacts all sides of pan. Repeat with remaining dough and cover all pans with plastic wrap that has been coated with cooking spray. Let rest two hours, or until dough has doubled in size. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together remaining egg and yolk and brush too of each loaf with egg wash. Bake in oven ten minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and set aside until ready to serve. (Note: makes more than needed for recipe. Baked and cooled brioche may be wrapped and frozen for up to two weeks.)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For the butter ice cream: In small saucepan, cook butter over medium heat until browned. Strain through fine-medium heat until browned. Combine water, sugar and dextrose in small saucepan, heat to 120 degrees and stir in stabilizer. Let cool slightly. In large bowl whisk together butter, sugar mixture and yolks, then stir in vodka and salt. Transfer to Pacojet[R] beaker and freeze at least eight hours. Process mixture in Pacojet[R] according to manufacturer's instructions. Store in freezer until ready to serve.

For the hazelnut sable: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix with wooden spoon for two minutes. Let cool to room temperature and set aside.

For the black truffle gelatin: Combine all ingredients in saucepan and bring to boil. Remove from heat and transfer to shallow baking pan. Refrigerate until firm.

For the chocolate streusel: Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix well to combine. Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Transfer to parchment-lined sheet pan and bake until mixture has dry, crumbly consistency. Let cool to room temperature and store in airtight container until ready to serve.

For the candied hazelnuts: In large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar and water and cook over medium-high heat to form light caramel. Stir in hazelnuts and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until evenly coated. Stir in butter, mix well and remove from heat. Let cool on parchment-lined sheet pan.

To serve: Cut brioche into 1/4-inch thick slices. place dab of hazelnut paste in center of plate and top with one hazelnut sable. Cut black truffle gelatin into rectangles of the same size as sable and top sable with one portion of gelatin. Spread ice cream in even layer across gelatin, and top with four slices brioche. Drizzle brioche with truffle oil. Garnish with streusel and hazelnuts and serve.

For the smoked brioche:
1 ounce fresh yeast
2 ounces water
2 ounces milk, room temperature
2 ounces granulated sugar
1 pound 2 ounces all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
1/2 ounce salt
5 eggs
1/4 ounce liquid smoke
8 ounces butter
Vegetable oil, as needed
Cooking spray, as needed
1 egg yolk


For the butter Ice cream:
3 ounces butter
7 ounces water
1/4 ounce granulated sugar
1/2 ounce dextrose
1 ounce ice cream stabilizer
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/4 ounce 80-proof vodka
Pinch of salt


For the hazelnut sable:
4 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
4 1/2 ounces toasted ground hazelnuts
Pinch of baking soda
3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 ounce milk
4 1/2 ounces butter


For the black truffle gelatin:
5 ounces black truffle juice*
2 ounces truffle honey
2 ounces water
Pinch of salt
Pinch of agar-agar


For the chocolate streusel:
4 ounces butter
4 ounces granulated sugar
6 ounces all-purpose flour
2 ounces Valrhona[R] cocoa powder
Pinch of smoked salt


For the candied hazelnuts:
4 ounces granulated sugar
1 ounce water
14 ounces hazelnuts
1/2 ounces butter
Cooking spray


To serve:
I ounce toasted hazelnut paste**


For the garnish:
Black truffle oil


*Available through L'Epicerie, (866) 350-7575 or www.lepicerie.com.

**Available through Pastry Chef Central, (561) 999-9483 or www.pastrychef.com.

Note: Pacojet[R] is a machine useo to make frozen confections to order. For more information, visit www.pacojet.com.

FERRAN ADRIA ALBERTO ADRIA ELBULLI

eale montjoi spain

the magical reality of ellulli

Under the direction of brothers Ferran and Alberto Adria and Oriol Castro, elBulli, a small restaurant in a remote corner of Spain's Costa Brava, has capitivated the culinary world like no other. Art Culinaire sat down with the brothers Adria at the beginning of their 2006 season.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

ac: Why do you think that there has been such a dramatic change in Spanish cuisine over the past 15 to 20 years?

aa: A national cuisine can only evolve if there's a good and sustained socio-economic environment to support it, and I think we have a naivete, a Latin character that will let us try new things without fear.

ac: Ferran, I understand that you were named "Catalan of the Year" for 2004. Were you the first chef to receive this honor?

fa: That was a surprise. It's uncommon that a cook could reach such a popular level. This is one of the honors that we [at elBulli] have enjoyed the most, because it represents the sentiment of a whole country. It is almost unthinkable that a cook could be given this prize.

ac: You arrived at elBulli in 1983 without formal culinary education or experience. How did you convince Juli Soler to appoint you executive chef?

fa: No one else would take the position. (Laughing). We could explain this as either particular circumstance or pure chance over 22 years that made me stay here. Initially, I was going to stay only two months.

ae: You've both stated that, at elBulli, the one rule is that everything has to be new. Why is there such importance placed on novelty above all else?

fa: Because this is what we do. "New" is what we do. There a very clear rule, which is that you always have to create new things. Otherwise, we could have stopped creating seven years ago. I think we could still fill the restaurant by serving food we created seven or eight years ago, but this is very dangerous, because if you stop, you might stop forever.

aa: Sometimes looking back, we might say, "Why did we take this dish out? It was so good!" It doesn't have to be new, but it has to be a step forward, which is quite different. I always think that the dish I like the most is the one I just finished creating.

ac: Why do you think people mistakenly characterize you as pioneers of molecular gastronomy?

fa: Two reasons. The first one is a marketing strategy by someone who has some interest in this. And second, I think, it is very interesting--the movement that began in Spain in the early '90s went unnamed. People kept saying, "We need a name." So molecular gastronomy comes along and the media says, "OK, let's use this." But this is a lie, the biggest lie in the history of cooking. We keep on thinking about it, and still no one understands why they call what we do "molecular gastronomy." The only thing we are doing is using the knowledge of science, history and products to cook.

ac: You document everything, and are open about sharing ideas. How does the restaurant keep its edge?

aa: Maybe it's because we are not obsessed about this, we don't worry about it that much. And the purity of not worrying is the key to avoiding contamination from outside influences. We do get positive influences nonetheless. We travel a lot, we learn a lot from other chefs. I went to The Fat Duck last year, and Oriol went to WD-50. If I learn about someone who is doing something interesting, I try to go there and learn. Not learn the technique directly, or a particular dish, but rather to understand the character behind it, their motivation and their philosophy.

ac: What, specifically, have you learned in your recent travels?

aa: Everything that's interesting to us, we bring back. It's like the saying, "One cooks as one is, and one is what one cooks." Oriol was in the States recently, and he ate at several Chinese places, so now we are doing Chinese chicken feet, and also a Chinese soup. Oriental cultures will always surprise us more than the Italian culture, for instance, because we know the Italian culture better. But right now we have more Italian cooks than usual. They are very good cooks, they work hard and have worked in some of the best restaurants in Italy. So you take advantage of this, and use what they know.

ac: It sounds like everyone has a voice. What's the hierarchy of the kitchen and how much influence can a cook have in the creative process?

aa: You have Ferran on top, then Oriol and myself, then the paid chefs de partie for each station, and then the stagieres. The group of paid people, some of whom are from abroad, have some input. So we have daily meetings in the morning, and we bring the stagieres in to watch the creative process. The paid people are in charge of translating this creative process into reality. It would appear that the stagieres are a mute audience in the creative process, but their input is always accepted, both at the process level and in the morning meetings. If someone has a suggestion, they are welcome to voice it, but they are not part of the creative process in the sense that they are not creating the dishes.

We're under a lot of pressure here. Each night we have 50 patrons who come here expecting the experience of their lives, because to get a reservation is not easy. So we only open at nights, to be able to do this, to have this creative process, but on the other hand we have to take our job very seriously, so we have to keep the creative process under control. If everyone participated in the process, this would be chaotic. Our strength is based on organization and logistics, which may be one of the most surprising things about our kitchen.

ac: What techniques or themes are you featuring this season at elBulli?

aa: This year we will be using inverse spheriphication, where you have the calcium inside the ingredient and the gellificant on the outside. But what gives elBulli its magic is the holistic aspect of it, the experience as a whole, not a particular dish. Maybe there are particular moments that are thrilling, but we aim for the experience as a whole. We're also going back to more earthy flavors, maybe avoiding strange combinations, looking back at our past instead of bringing new flavors in.

ac: In your "philosophical synthesis of elBulli restaurant," you state that "preference is given to seafood and vegetables ... in recent years, red meat and poultry in large quantities have been very sparingly used." Why is that?

fa: Keep in mind this is only my view, a synthesis of my cooking. It's not a blanket statement. We don't use a lot of red meat, because, well, you don't see many cows around, do you? (Laughing). We have been unable to make a cuisine that is "magical" using large cuts of meat. We are even moving towards not using large cuts of fish.

ac: Another point from the synthesis is that "decontextualization, irony, spectacle, performance are completely legitimate, providing they are not superficial but are closely bound up with a process of gastronomic reflection." In what case would you find a culinary effort superficial or illegitimate?

fa: Probably you've gone too far when what you do can be executed by someone who is not a cook. For example, if you came here to eat and we covered your eyes. It's fine, but it can be done by anyone.

ac: So if something is easy enough to be executed by the home cook or layperson, it's outside the boundaries of legitimacy?

fa: Not necessarily. Through the food, all senses can be involved. But if this is done with stuff which is not food, then it becomes a performance with food. It's one thing to do art with food, and a different one when food becomes art.

Parmesan "Air" with Muesli (Serves 12)

Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana

Vinicola Hidalgo

Manzanilla de Sanlucar, Spain NV

For the Parmesan serum: Bring water to a boil and stir in cheese. Continue to cook until mixture forms a homogenous elastic mass. Remove from heat and let sit for one hour. Transfer mixture to Superbag[R] and place in refrigerator until ready to use.

For the caramelized apple: Combine water and sugar in saucepan and bring to boil. Cook until sugar dissolves, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Stir ascorbic acid into sugar syrup. Using mandoline, cut apple into very thin slices, taking care to avoid including core or seeds. Submerge slices in sugar syrup mixture, the transfer to silpat[R]-lined sheet pan. Bake in oven 20 minutes, or until apples are completely crisp. Let cool briefly, then break into small pieces. Store in airtight container until ready to use.

For the walnuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast walnuts on sheet pan seven minutes, until browned and crispy. Remove from heat and chop finely.

For the Parmesan "air": In saucepan, heat Parmesan serum to 113 degrees and stir in lecithin. Transfer mixture to Thermomix[R] and blend until mixture has taken on significant quantities of air. Quickly transfer mixture to individual terrine molds, leaving a 1-inch margin at the top of each mold. Cover with plastic wrap or laminated paper and freeze for at least one hour.

To serve: Just before serving, remove molds from freezer and remove plastic or paper. Top with apples, walnuts and raspberries and serve.

For the Parmesan serum:
1 quart water
2 1/4 pounds Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated


For the caramelized apple:
1/2 cup water
3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
Pinch of ascorbic acid
1 Golden Delicious apple


For the walnuts:
2 ounces walnuts


For the Parmesan "air":
Parmesan serum, from above
Pinch of powdered soy lecithin*


For the garnish:
Dehydrated raspberries


*A soy-derived natural emulsifier. Available in health food stores.

Note: Superbag[R] is a temperature-resistant filter whose mesh is finer than that of a fine-mesh sieve. For more information, visit www.cookingconcepts.com/ENG/superbag.html.

Note: Thermomix[R] is a multi-function appliance. For more information, visit www.thermomix.com.

Melon Caviar (Serves 10)

Malvasia de Sitges

Hospital San Juan Baptiste

Sitges, Spain NV

For the melon: Use electric juicer to juice melon. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the caviar base: In small bowl, combine one-third of juice with sodium alginate and mix well. Transfer to Thermomix[R] and continue to mix until homogenous. Mix in remaining juice, strain through fine-mesh sieve and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

For the calcium chloride base: Whisk together water and calcium chloride and set aside.

To serve: Transfer melon mixture to two-ounce capacity syringes with 1/4-inch diameter openings. Dispense the mixture, drop by drop, into the calcium chloride mixture. Let sit in mixture one minute, then drain and rinse under cold water, taking care to shake off excess water. Arrange caviar in tin, garnish with passion fruit seeds and mint and serve.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For the melon:
1 1/4 pounds cantaloupe flesh


For the caviar base:
Cantaloupe juice, from above
Pinch of sodium alginate*


For the calcium chloride base:
18 ounces water
Pinch of calcium chloride**


For the garnish:
Passion fruit seeds
Small mint leaves


*Available through Gallade Chemical, (888) 830-9092.

**Available through Gallade Chemical, (888) 830-9092.

Note: Thermomix[R] is a multi-function appliance. For more information, visit www.thermomix.com.

Golden Eggs (Serves 10)

Pilsner Urquell beer

Plzn, Czech Republic

For the neutral caramel: Combine glucose and fondant in small saucepan and heat gently over low heat, stirring occasionally, until well-mixed. Remove from heat and stir in Isomalt. Return to heat and cook until mixture reaches 325 degrees. Remove from heat and turn mixture out onto parchment-lined sheet pan Spread mixture out to even 1/4-inch thickness and let cool to room temperature. Cut into 2-inch x 2-inch squares.

For the golden caramel sheets: Preheat oven to 340 degrees. Line sheet pan with Silpat[R] mat and transfer neutral caramel squares to pan. Top with a second Silpat[R] and bake in oven five minutes. Remove from oven and gently roll with rolling pin so that squares are paper-thin. Remove top Silpat[R] and let cool. Combine gold powder and enough vodka to form a thin paint. Brush one side of each caramel square with gold paint. Return to oven to warm slightly, then cut each square into 1-inch squares. Store in airtight container until ready to use.

For the egg yolks: Separate whites and yolks, reserving whites for another use. Gently deposit yolks in small bowl and cover with oil. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble: Preheat salamander or broiler. Arrange small Silpat[R] mat atop metal plate and place yolk on Silpat[R]. Cover each yolk with one sheet caramel and place under salamander until caramel just adheres to yolk. Remove from heat, gently turn each yolk over and cover with second sheet of caramel. Return to heat until caramel just adheres. Yolks should be completely encased in caramel.

To serve: Gently transfer yolk to serving plate, garnish with salt, nutmeg and pepper and serve.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

For the neutral caramel:
2 ounces glucose
3 1/2 ounces fondant
2 ounces Isomalt[R]*


For the golden caramel sheets:
Neutral caramel, from above
1/4 ounce edible powdered gold**
Vodka or other neutral spirit, as needed


For the egg yolks:
10 quail eggs
1/4 cup sunflower oil


For the garnish:
Maldon[R] salt
Freshly ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper


*A sweetener made from beet sugar that lends stability and heat resistance to recipes. Available through Chef Rubber, (702) 614-9350 or www.chefrubber.com.

**Available through Pastry Chef Central, (561) 999-9483 or www.pastrychef.com

Peaches and Cream (Serves 4)

For the frozen peach liqueur: Dip long-handled table-spoon into liquid nitrogen to freeze entire surface. Fill spoon with one ounce liqueur and reintroduce spoon to nitrogen, taking care at first not to let nitrogen make contact with liqueur. When inner edge of spoon is frozen, dip spoon completely into nitrogen so that surface of liqueur is frozen. Quickly dip liqueur cube into cream, making sure it is completely covered. Return to nitrogen to freeze cream and immediately store in freezer at zero degrees.

For the peach juice: Pass puree through fine-mesh sieve and transfer to squeeze bottle.

To serve: Fifteen minutes before serving, transfer frozen peach liqueur to freezer at 18 degrees, so that the liquor will melt slightly. Fill a serving spoon with peach juice and arrange on pizza stone that has been dipped in liquid nitrogen. Place one serving of peach liqueur alongside juice and serve.

For the frozen peach liqueur:
36 ounces liquid nitrogen*
4 ounces peach liqueur
4 ounces heavy cream


For the peach Juice:
3 1/2 ounces blood peach puree**


*Available through Praxair, (800) 772-9247 or www.praxair.com.

**Available through L'Epicerie, (866) 350-7575 or www.lepicerie.com.

Olive Oil Spring Candy (Serves 10)

For the olive oil Candy: In a saucepan, combine isomalt, glucose and SUCRO and heat to 325 degrees. Meanwhile, in separate pan, heat oil to 122 degrees and add GLICE, stirring to dissolve. When sugar mixture reaches 325 degrees, remove from heat and slowly drizzle in olive oil mixture while stirring constantly with spatula. Once the oil has been absorbed into the sugar mixture, turn it out onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Use a paring knife to divide the mixture into two-inch squares. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

To serve: Place one square of candy under a heat lamp to soften it. Using a power drill that has been fitted with a two-inch diameter nylon cylinder, spin the candy into a spring. Repeat with remaining candy. Fill an atomizer bottle with olive oil and lightly spray each spring. Place spring inside small box filled with coarse salt, sprinkle with fine salt and serve.

For the olive oil candy:
3 1/2 ounces Isomalt*
1 ounce glucose
Pinch of SUCRO**
1 1/2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of GLICE***


For the garnish:
Extra virgin olive oil
Finely ground sea salt
Coarse sea salt


*A sweetener made from beet sugar. Available through Chef Rubber, (702) 614-9350 or www.chefrubber.com.

**A highly-stable emulsifier developed by Alberto and Ferran Adria. For more information, visit www.texturaselbulli.com.

***See above.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Culinaire, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Publication:Art Culinaire
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Sep 22, 2006
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