Sunday, 13 January 2008

Coppered Parmesan and curled potatoes

...continued from here
After the sixteen-course lunch our intrepid gormandiser takes a few hours rest then sets off in search of fresh fumets and frozen flakes new. At 9.30 he sits down at the other 3-star restaurant, Akelarre on the slopes of Monte Igeldo. He is not hungry, but nevertheless "ready to finish the task I had started".

Having shovelled in "a box of eight little snacks (liquid almond, mussel with black bread, etc.)" he gets down to serious business with (again from a droll English menu):

Little pearls of foie gras and sour salad
Crab in sequences
Squid, onion, and curled Parmesan
Pickled red tuna à la minute with Piparras
Beef in coppered potato and juicy sponge
Milk and grape, cheese and wine in parallel evolution
Generous fruit ravioli and apple soupe

This lasts him until just before midnight, by which time he has cleared every plate set down before him and emptied eight glasses of wine, "so it was mission accomplished".

But it had not been a pleasant experience: "Left me disappointed ... culinary experimentalism run amok ... pellet-size bites of foie gras with tapioca are just not very satisfying ... you needed construction equipment to cut through the potato skin, and the meat was flavorless ... the meal took a needlessly provocative turn ... did not thrill me ... a Gorgonzola sorbet that elicited a one-word comment in my notebook: Blech*".

A disappointment for the poor fellow, indeed. However: "On the plus side, it was food that made people think and talk, as Subijana, a delightful man with a great handlebar mustache, made the rounds of the dining room", talking about the various dishes. This sounds an even more depressing experience than eating the meal, but the sad author of this drivel was probably grateful: he was writing in the first person singular, so one must assume that he was alone at the trough with only his notebook for company, and would have had to chomp his way in glum silence through all that 'needlessly provocative' grub had there not been a great handlebar mustache willing to chat to him.

*Clearly, this man has led a simple life: to him, blech is merely a variant of yuk; the cognoscenti know that blechs are devices to avoid cooking during Shabbos (and so, rather confusingly, are unblechs).


Grumio said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head here, Tony. What was the point of this fellow's endeavour if taken on solitarily and with such seriousness?

I recently enjoyed a three-hour dinner ending with, effectively, five desserts, if you include a couple of entremêts. It was all delicious, accompanied by excellent wines, served by the most welcoming hosts and partaken while watching the rain-soaked carabinieri rearranging themselves in the Piazza della Scala whilst the Quality were huddled listening to the opening night of Tristan, more fool them. But this, too, would have been nothing but a miserable chore if it had not been enjoyed in the company of a sparkling woman from three continents away with a fiendish appetite for elaborate confections and a sly sense of humour.

I am sure all your readers can back you up with similar experiences.

Tony said...

Well, I suppose he got paid for the article.

I say, you do live it up, don't you? But if this female person you mention is the one I think it is I guess you would have skipped two of the entremets so long as you could have kept the sparkle.

Grumio said...

Like a rotten night at the theatre, a lonely and excessive meal is something one might pay to avoid.

Yes well, one must make an effort. Indeed it was she, let us call her Bianca. And she prefers not to skip the entremêts either so I was really onto a winner! You're quite right though, I would have skipped THROUGH a pile of entremêts for any time with her.

You must join us sometime. I mean for dinner, not skipping through heaps of posh snacks. But that too, if you want.