The most elusive restaurant reservation in the world just got infinitely harder. Celebrity chef Ferran Adrià has announced that his restaurant, El Bulli, will temporarily close in 2012 and 2013. "El Bulli is not closing down. I need time to decide how 2014 is going to be . . . I know that when I return it will not be the same," Adrià said at a press conference. He also spoke to the difficulties of working 15-hour days: "We deserve to lead more normal lives, because for 25 years we have been focusing on the restaurant. Now we need more time with our families." The three Michelin starred-restaurant in Roses, Spain, which was just named one of the Food & Wine's top 10 life-changing restaurants, is considered by many to be the most avant-garde eatery in the world. El Bulli will be open this year through 2011 before closing — although it only seats 50 heads a night for six months out of the year. While my chance of going has gone from slim to none, PartySugar may have better luck: she requested a reservation before the announcement! Have your hopes to visit El Bulli been deflated?
We've all been in crazy situations, and I want to know how you handle entertaining fiascoes and bad restaurant behavior. I'll present a situation and you tell me what you would do. Here's today's scenario:
Your parents are visiting from out of town. You want to take them out to a nice but not too fancy dinner as a send-off, but it's Sunday and lots of places are closed. You've been wandering around for a while, and now everyone is hungry! You duck into one of the city's regarded restaurants on the off chance they have a table, and they do.
When you sit down, you realize this is much more of a fine dining experience than you were seeking. Three-course meals are the only option, and the price tag is high.
Not quite French Laundry level, but you were looking for something more casual. You can afford it, and since you're already seated, it's awkward to leave. What do you do? It happened to me, actually. Find out what I did.
Even as a food writer, it's not every day that I experience flawless fine dining. But several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of enjoying a dégustation, or tasting, at Masa's, a Michelin-starred restaurant known for its elevation of California-French cuisine. Not only were chef Gregory Short's creations exquisite, but the wine pairings were indelible and the service exceptional. To get a glimpse of the dinner, read on.
Photography by Michelle Walker
The man behind the Best Restaurant in America is surprising everyone with a new frozen food line. The folks at Bloomberg are reporting that Thomas Keller — owner of The French Laundry and Per Se — has designed and placed his name on two frozen dishes for FiveLeaf, a unit of Cuisine Solutions Inc. The first one, Mac and Cheese Lobster with Orzo will be pitched to retail stores soon.
In addition to his new frozen food line and two fancy pants fine dining establishments, Keller has two bistros, an American family-style spot, two bakeries and a catering operation. If this sounds like too much for one man to control, I might mention that Keller is also planning to open a meat shop, an inn at the French Laundry and a hamburger and wine restaurant.
When asked why he's willing to spread out his empire, Keller explained that it was mostly due to his staff. By creating advanced placement possibilities for his current employees.
"To maintain the consistency and quality of the staff, you have to give them opportunities."
However, all of this Keller leaves some food critics skeptical. San Francisco Chronicle editor Michael Bauer made comparisons to Wolfgang Puck and wondered if the fine dining brand could work with frozen food.
"Once you get into frozen food and pizzas, your fine dining brand gets a little fuzzed out."
Either way, I know I can't wait to try Keller's fancy mac and cheese, how about you?
After the first two parts of my French Laundry excursion, I've arrived at the final installment: the cheese & dessert. I must say, although I was ridiculously full at this point, I somehow managed to make room - which actually came as no surprise. The night we were there, Thomas Keller was actually at a big Food & Wine event in Aspen. However the man pictured, Corey Lee, the chef de cuisine, really took care of us. The entire evening was a fantastic (if not overly hot and stuffy - it was 109F outside when we started our meal!) experience. To see how the number one restaurant in America does dessert read more
Yesterday I walked you through the first part of my extravagant time at the French Laundry, and while everything I posted was definitely tasty, you guys haven't even seen the meat of the story (bad pun intended). Today I'll take you from fish course to beef and all the lovely bits in-between.
After the foie gras, the next course was either Filet of American Red Snapper with Summer Squash, San Marzano Tomato "Fondue," Cuttlefish and Arugula-Castelvetrano Olive Pudding (shown right) or Spanish Mackerel "En Escabeche" with Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm, English Cucumbers, Cilantro Shoots, Haas Avocado "Coulis" and Rangpur Lime "Gastrique" (shown above). I ordered the snapper, while Jimmy ordered the mackerel. When our dishes arrived I was envious of his dish - the presentation was so gorgeous - however after tasting both of them, his fell a little flat and I was certain I picked the winning dish.
To see what's up next (and believe me, the best parts are next), read more
A little while back, I confessed to never having eaten at a single one of the 50 best restaurants in the world. Well, last week I finally fixed that by dining at Thomas Keller's number 4 ranked (number 1 in the US) The French Laundry of Yountville, CA (Napa wine country). The menu there consists of two options: the chef's tasting menu or the taste of vegetables menu, so unfortunately there's no popping in and ordering a la carte. In fact, there's no popping in of any sort - we had our reservations booked two months in advance, and even those were hard to come by. The meal itself is rather pricey, but I felt worth it for the food, atmosphere service and experience. It's not something I could see myself doing often, mostly for financial reasons. When I told everyone that I went, the first question was, "was it worth it?" followed shortly by, "what did you eat?" To find out the answers and see a parade of delectable pictures, read more
Extreme eaters mark your calendars. And well actually, by extreme I mean people who want to/can afford to spend a lot of money on food. And by a lot of money I mean a LOT of money. Remember how I told you about the $25,000 dinner in Thailand? Well on December 12, 2008 (that's over a year away, you can start saving now), master 3-star Michelin chefs from around the globe will head to the ancient pyramids in Egypt to cook a dinner for over 500 diners. But hey, compared to Thailand, this is going to be a bargain. The price isn't confirmed, but organizers say it will cost less than $10,000 per person.
A kitchen, half a mile long, will be set up with the pyramids in the background. Also, unlike the Thailand meal that was mostly French cuisine, this time the menu will be "culturally diverse and paired with fine wines from around the world."
How close to the pyramids is also yet to be decided, it depends on the Egyptian government and UNESCO (the pyramids, after all, are a World Heritage site). Some of the profits from the meal may be given to charity (my theory is that is probably the only way they will be able to get close enough).
I don't know what you guys think, but it sounds horribly tacky and horribly AWESOME. So hey, like I said, it's at a bargain price and is over a year away. Start saving now and I'm sure you'll have enough, right?!?
Source: Contra Costa Times
First of all, if I was awesome, this post would have been called "One Night in Bangkok," but sadly someone else already used it. Since I'm not that awesome, I'm going to just cut to the chase. This past Saturday night 40-some high-rolling diners headed to Bangkok, Thailand for a 10-course, $25,000 meal.
Yes, I said $25,000. Per person.
To learn what would make a meal worth $25,000, read more