Ferran Adriá was in NYC over the past few days to kick of the newly published book, Ferran: The Inside Story of El Bulli and the Man Who Reinvented Food written by Colman Andrews to paint a literary portrait of the man who has become the most influential and famous chef of his generation, if not ever. On Tuesday evening, he was at the International Culinary Center and on Wednesday night, he was at the brand new Bar Basque at The Eventi Hotel for a meet and greet along with a showing of the Adrias' video of A Day at elBulli and a cocktail party featuring culinary talent from Spain's Bay of Biscay.
The video presented a first of the morning through the last of the night view of a typical day, in this case August 22nd, 2008, at elBulli. The film was produced and directed by the multi-talented Albert Adriá. If anyone ever wanted to know what it must be like to work or dine at elBulli, this video is a must see. While I haven't worked there, I have dined there twice and the video really does give a great sense of the experience, minus, of course, actually tasting the food. As for working there, the day appears to be a long and rigorous, though ultimately satisfying one. Watching the video from a large television screen located outside across a courtyard, while we sat lined up sitting in rows of chairs inside, was something of a surreal experience in and of itself.
After the video and a few words from Ferran, who hadn't seen the video since it was made, and several folks from the Spanish National Tourist Board who sponsored the event, the crowd convened to a cocktail party featuring Spanish wines and Basque style pintxos made in the Bar Basque kitchen by visiting Basque chefs including Daniel (not Dani) Garcia. Some of the highlights included a rice dish with pork belly, wild mushroom croquetas, Champagne croquetas, jamon Iberico, foie gras and to finish the meal, Bar Basque's snazzy Gin & Tonic and Cuba Libre geleés.
The space of Bar Basque is unlike any restaurant that I have ever been in. Looking more like a movie set (it was designed by Syd Mead, who designed the sets for the futuristic movie classic, Blade Runner, amongst other imaginative pics) than a typical restaurant, the interior of the Jeffrey Chodorow bar space is enrobed in a deep red blanket of color. The principle dining environment is located outside of the swath of red in a light and airy terrace with inside-outside capabilities. On this autumn evening, we were definitely inside, although the sense of the outside space was quite strong. The kitchen is open and built around a unique (at least I've never seen one like this before), charcoal grill. The chef is Yuhi Fujinaga, who has spent time cooking in the Basque country and Galicia.
(l-r, top to bottom) Drew Nieporent & Ferran; Ferran, cooking prodigy & future Ferran protege(?) Greg Grossman and Jose Andres; Ferran and Lisa Mamounas of Cooking Insiders; Ferran, yours truly and Jose Andres.