I was debating how to do this, how to tell you about the El Bulli kitchen table menu at Next which I enjoyed (understatement) on Friday night. I mean, sure, I took a lot of pictures. (They are all over here on my Facebook fan page.) I even shot some video, and thanks to Roam & Home’s suggestion, I even pepped the videos up a bit using the 8mm app on the iPhone. (See Maytag Blue Egg, Mint Pond, and the literal goodbye of the Marshmallow Gloves, all over on YouTube.) I had to remove the sound from the videos because in one, I’m singing Tainted Love (best song ever), and in another, I sound like I’m missing a few points off my IQ when I ask where the cheese is. (The egg is MADE of cheese. ) I blame the cava. And the wine. And the sake. And the cider. And, uh, the sherry and the beer.
I had favorite dishes, like the black sesame spongecake with miso, eaten with your hands. You can make this yourself in the microwave, our tremendously awesome server Bobby told us. (My friend Shinny has been making cake in her rice cooker a lot lately. I like these non-traditional baking methods.) Always a sucker for unagi, I loved the nasturtium with eel, bone marrow and cucumber. I don’t know if it’s the sourcing or the preparation, but this was the best bit of eel I’ve ever had.
I loved the surprise of the carrot foam. It was like eating nothing, but eating something that was very, well, something. I wanted to bathe in the liquid from the suquet of prawns; we were licking it off the plate with our fingers before they took the plates away. And I wanted to — get this — try to reproduce the potato tortilla at home, so comforting and silky it was. A mouth feel like no other.
I loved the fun of the spice quiz and the spooky but whimsical goodbye of the marshmallow gloves. I loved that Next lets you buy the beer from the meal — a special brew from Half Acre flavored with beets and oranges — so I bought two bottles at the end for $15 each. (See the reviews on Beer Advocate.)
I also loved that I was invited to the kitchen table by Karen of Roam & Home, someone I’d never met before but whose aesthetic I’ve always very much admired. (I am borrowing her idea of posting the menu. I was going to post all the photos, but there are too many. An album on Facebook is easier.) I am forever grateful to you, Karen. And to Bob too. Hi Bob!!
Being low on cash at the end of the night (five hours after we began) and feeling in the mood for another special treat, I ordered myself an Uber cab — they charge my credit card directly for everything and no cash changes hands — and I headed home in that dark silence of classical music and leather.
The music here is a bit more intense than my Uber “cab,” but here’s the official Next video for El Bulli if you are interested: