After the David Arnold and Nils Noren presentation, I grabbed a bite to eat (the food at the Sheraton was dismal and not worthy of such a foodie organization). Patricia was still getting the rest of the food for later presentations and I told her to meet me at Johnson & Wales University to catch the Andoni Aduriz presentation. I was really excited to see how he was going to use the products I had so much trouble acquiring.
The first thing I grasped from watching Andoni work, is his level of organization. He is meticulous and nothing is out of place. When I ate at his restaurant in 2005, you could tell that it operated under the same level of perfection. The weather outside was getting worse and I was truly exhausted by this time.
The Johnson & Wales Jared Polis auditorium is beautiful and all can have a great view of the presentation. They had two screens to catch the action and there were two students handling remote video cameras (these most times took forever to focus and zoom to close ups).
The translator was a young lady from Peru. I am not sure how she got the gig, but I thought her translation fell short and almost lulled me to sleep. Translation is really hard and it is even harder to hold an audience’s attention. Andoni talks softly with that characteristic Spanish lisp (not sure how that lisp creeped into their language but I find it slightly challenging). So between him talking softly and the monotone nature of her translation coupled with a lack of technical knowledge of the subject matter it was hard at times to follow.
When I received the recipe pack from Andoni it had 11 recipes in it. I just couldn’t imagine how he was going to present all of them in 2 1/2 hour time period. He presented around 9 recipes and even managed to slip in some video presentations.
The Mugaritz team worked extremely well together and they anticipated all of Andoni’s needs to insure the presentation went off without a hitch.
The first dish he presented was the Koalin potatoes.
He cooks the potatoes and then dips them in an edible blue corn colored kaolin clay and bakes them in the oven. They come out looking like stones and must come as a shock to his clients when they see them at their table.
Next up he presented a dish using romaine hearts and milk skin. The harvest of the milk skin seems really tricky and required that we find a raw milk source.
The hearts of romaine were impregnated with vanilla brine in the cryovac machine using a technique called compression (you put the lettuce in a cryovac bag with the brine and then you repeatedly subject it to cryovac suction. This compresses the cell walls and replace the air with brine). The milk skin is made by combining raw milk with cream, cooking it and then allowing the fat to rise to the surface and form a skin that attaches to a parchment sheet.
A beautiful carrot dish garnished with squid cubes and Chinese mushrooms and squid consommé
These white asparagus were blanched and shocked and served with pine resin liquid thickened with cod skin (though if you read my previous posts, you know they had to use salmon skin).
The leeks were roasted in the oven until the outside was somewhat charred and then he removed the outer leaves to get to the tender hearts that had been steamed and flavored with the char. He used cherry stone clams and mussels to created the broth. The little green twigs used as garnish are actually salicornes or sea beans.
The butternut cubes are soaked in water mixed with calcium oxide (remember the red lime in the David Arnold segment) that enhance the texture as it cooks (like the bananas did in David and Nils demo). The butternut cube is placed on top of a gelatinized sweet potato purée. On the left there is a smear of mascarpone and coffee cream.
This dish was an interesting evolution. I guess that he had cooked Jerusalem artichokes once in their skin and noticed that once he opened them up that the flesh resembled crab meat, which gave him the idea of topping it crab-meat. I believe he had this revelation on the plane and had to act on it when he landed. I was unable to find him whole crab at the last minute but I guess someone was able to procure two for him.
Then he went on to talk about taking watermelon and compressing it in the cryovac and having it replicate the flavor and color of beef. He said a large percentage of people could not tell the difference between the watermelon and the beef. He discussed a special type of beef where they would introduce figs into their diet and the meat would taste sweet. He passed around the carpaccio for us to look at.
He played us a video that showed a 120 step salad of wild greens and flowers he features at the restaurant (there is even a checklist to make sure that each leaf is accounted for and included in the salad).
Andoni’s final presentation was an explanation of how he figured out along with a research team in Italy how to make these bubbles. He made a mixture with egg protein (not sure how he got this as I tried all week to find it), beet juice and xanthan gum and set it in a large jar in which he had placed a tube connected to an aquarium pump. As he was talking about the process of the discovery the mass of bubbles was growing in the bowl (kind of like the chocolate pudding in the movie the sleeper). When it started to go over the sides he had us all taste it. It was the lightest foam encapsulating the bright flavor of beet I have ever tasted.
The presentation was amazingly well organized and the dishes inspirational. A true genius visited Denver on this day and it was great to see he was able to use most of the ingredients I gathered for him and how he survived without the ones I couldn’t.
I still had to head back to the Sheraton to cook off some Cholla Buds and then on to the reception at the Denver Art Museum.
I pressure cooked the Cholla buds for a 1/2 hour then put them in the walk-in.
I headed off to the DAM and Sylvia had set it up in a wonderful way, with stations of different restaurants and caterers. Intermittent among the food stalls were Colorado wineries and even a drink out of the barrel Stranahans Colorado Whiskey station. You had to cross the art gallery to get to yet another area featuring Boulder restaurants. It was a great event and even Hickenlooper the Mayor of Denver was in attendance.
After I left the opening reception, I strolled down 16th street mall and walked over to the school to see how the Molecular Gastronomy class had gone. I arrived just as people were packing to go. It was a success and Ian even gave me a little lesson on how to handle the LN without the hose he took with him.
I walked back to the 16th street mall and bike taxi asked me if I wanted a free ride to my hotel. I took him up on it and he dropped it in front of the hotel. I entered into the Irish bar connected to the hotel and saw Rick Moonen sitting with two other people. I introduced myself and told them I would be coordinating their presentation the following day.
Barry Estabrook a contributing editor to Gourmet was with him along with his Chef de Cuisine Adam Sobel. They were drinking Bourbon and I had a few beers with them (they were nice enough to pay for my drinks). Very interesting people.
Off to bed finally for some sleep and to prepare for another big day.