January 22, 2020

Visiting Barcelona, I had to try a restaurant by Albert Adria, a stallwart in the culinary field with roots back into El Barri (a restaurant doing Michelin food before anyone knew what Michelin food was). My first choice was Tickets - a restaurant made to be a circus, where the waiters are magicians and your food is the bunny and comes out of proverbial top hats. Alas, they were booked. So was Enigma, the newest of his empire. I added myself to the waitlist and was delighted when they called to say they could accommodate me.

This restaurant was aptly named. Every inch of the experience is designed to make you question reality. Cloud ceilings? Translucent bread? Milk skin as an entree? Smoked baby eels? Even the bathroom is so confusing that it took me a few minutes to find the door.

Within that backdrop, the food and level of cooking was incredible, with combinations, techniques and ingredients I had never even heard of before. The confusion was accentuated by the pace. Even over 4 hours, 40 courses is about one every 5 minutes, giving you little to no mental rest between courses. Totally on brand.

The meal takes place through 5 environments - a welcome area with appetizers, a sushi bar (type of thing), a grill, the dining room and then you are led to a secret speakeasy that you walk through the kitchen storeroom to enter.

Suffice it to say this was a unique experience. I dined alone and it would be far better shared, but I'm sure glad I went. This won't soon be forgotten.

Welcome drink with pumpkin and Yuka
Tangerine Martini (with gin) (had 2!) Air pancake with caviar
Crystal "bread" with truffle
Nori cracker, salmon eggs, local wasabi
Orange blossom kakigori (like shaved ice)
The meal happens in 5 environments. You begin in the cave. This is The Bar - like a sushi bar. This woman was serving only me...and another waiter was behind me clearing plates, filling my water, etc. Staff to guest ration had to be 1:1 or greater.
She starts by putting fois gras in the box and covering wtih anchovy salt. She turns the black salt timer (behind the box) so cure it for 10 minutes in front of you while she serves your first course.
Squid two ways. One with olive oil and salt, the other with soy sauce. She shaves the squid right in front of you super thin as she makes the dish. The texture and tastes here were incredible.
Scottish lobster, lightly cooked, cured in salt and sugar, finished with mirren, dashi and other Japanese items. Lobster was essentially raw, so the texture was a bit offputting. But super high quality.
Red shrimp 2 ways, head on its own cured in salt and sugar... (this was delicious...and incredible technique to extract the head in a single piece like that)
And the body in sea water. (That's an ice cube.) Delicious.
Barnacles in seaweed emulsion. Never had these before. Like a perfect clam. Apparently extremely difficult to obtain, so they are quite expensive.
Same dish. They reserve the water from the barnacles and this is the seaweed (which made the green sauce) in barnacle water.
Bummed I couldn't eat this. Just a display to show you the seaweed in full.
Here is that fois gras that was cured in anchovy start at when I sat down. The salt truly infused throughout.
Next environment...the iron. (Stove?) Like a hibachi table with seats around a flattop. On the way here, you walk through the kitchen. The head chef shakes your hand and thanks you for coming and every other chef looks you in the eye and genuinely greets you.
The two chefs hard at work.
Again...this is for the 2nd dish. They added foam to the round metal, threw water on the flattop and covered it allowing the steam to cook the foam. This jumped and spit right in front of you...was fun to watch and hear.
White tuna belly, confit in bone marrow fat (right in front of you). Yum!
Here is that foam they steamed, topped with "an enigma". They ask you to guess what it is. I guessed liver. I was wrong. It was rabbit brain. (No wonder they don't tell you...LOL)
Same technique with the steaming/spitting/jumping for the a later course...
Grilling wagyu
Wagyu, wasabi, egg yolk foam with soy sauce. This is one of the very best 2 bites of food I have ever had.
Smoking baby eels.
He then finishes the eels in a bordelaise sauce, wanting you to see the change in color...or something.
The final product. It was delicious. I had to ask where one sources baby eels. I didn't really get the answer. ? This is quite a delicacy and definitely a dish to remember for years to come. I'd love to have some again.
Sea urchin bellini I missed a photo of the final item, which was steaming under the lid. It was Egg yolk custard, dashi, sea urchin, truffle vinaigrette
Moved to the dining room now. I had a dedicated waitress and other support people (sommelier came back, etc.). This is wagyu tartare pate with truffle butter in the middle.
Grilled strawberry, lamb juice with curry (spiced - like a deep gravy), milk foam. Who puts these flavors together?? It worked.
Lobster cured in ox fat, grilled with salt and pepper. Very meaty and perfectly seasoned to punch through the richness.
Mushroom soup with pine trees, sea urchin, parmesan cheese
Confit codfish skin, tapioca, chick pea broth
Grilled onion with goat cheese cream, lintil cream, caper butter
Peas (blanched), black truffle, Iberian ham, egg yolk (peas cracked and exploded sweetly, offsetting the salt of the ham and unami of the truffle. Probably the best dish of the night. So much technique and fantastic levels of flavor.
Salad. (What?) Lettuce with vinegar (base), avacado cream, horseradish cream. Amazingly tasted like a salad. Acidic Lettuce, avacado, horseradish came off like a ranch dressing
How the dish arrived...
Egg yolk, king crab water, caviar, brioche. That egg yolk was killer.
Yuba (milk skin), pickled chicken (gravy), sea plant. Oddly rich and satisfying dish.
Making the next course...
Cured ham dashi (in front), tomato dashi (in back) served in a curved shell.
Dessert begins. Eel sauce ice cream, black sesame seeds, pepper, lulo seeds (spooned fresh out of the lulo fruit). Interesting dish where each element was too strong on its own, but combined was quite good.
Milk chocolate with beer hops, dark chocolate with malt, beer yeast crisp
Apple custard, sherbet, flowers
Soy, soy and soy. Soy bean, soy yuba, chocolate with soy sauce, caramel. Eaten with your hands.
You are then led back through the kitchen, through a supply room to a bar called "41 degrees". Speakeasy, really. This is your next environment.
This is the bar menu. Each stamp has an item on the bottom (chili, smoke, cupcake...) and the bartender describes in detail the type of drink you can have in that style.
The (uber friendly) bartender making my selected drink.
I chose spicy, even though it was a gamble. I'm not a big rye whiskey person.
Here is the sweet drink (rum and bananas). This was delicious. That chocolate on the spoon was insane.
The bar has its own kitchen and they bring you a number of "snacks"...
Mint marshmallow, Gorgonzola cheese, lemon zest
Raspberry pod, vinegar
Nori candy with nitro.
Raspberry wasabi
Nitro popcorn. You exhaled dried ice like a dinasaur when you ate this.
Chocolate with passion fruit


What do you think? I'd love to hear from you.

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