[Spain: Barcelona] 2* Disfrutar - Eating in the New Creative Kitchen
Our last stop in Spain this time was Barcelona and of course we had to return to one of my favorite restaurants in the world - Disfrutar! From my first visit in 2015, the restaurant has improved leaps and bounds earning 2 Michelin Stars and the #5 spot on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list since then. When we arrived for lunch, imagine my surprise when one of the chefs Eduard Xatruch led me down the stairs, into the cellar, through an unmarked door, and told us that we would be eating at the new Creative Kitchen space today. In the space, there was one lone table where we would be dining facing the kitchen and while it seemed like an ordinary table at first, it would play a very important part at the end of the meal (make sure to read all the way till the end)! This very special Table M#01 in the creative kitchen is available for booking through telephone only.
The restaurant had designed a special menu for us since it was not our first time here, and we started with a Dry Martini which came in a little pipette and paired with the classic Disfrutar’s molecular olive!
What do you think of when you hear microwave food? While most associate it with low quality, leave it to the innovative team here to turn it into gastronomy! The 5 Microwave Snacks came in all different textures and flavors - from the left, there’s the soufflé made of Parmesan cheese, then Parmesan cheese with sphere of balsamic vinegar & lemon, yuzu with curries, Roquefort cheese with walnuts, and finally Parmesan cheese with sphere of pesto. It was hard to imagine that these amazing snacks were cooked in a microwave. We even asked if a special type of microwave was used, but the reply was that it’s a regular one that’s commonly available. This was paired with a homemade apple cider using dry ice to carbonate the liquid and instantly smoked with oak chips.
Then we had a Disfrutar Potato Chip and a very special homemade Black Truffle Vodka which was to be paired with the next few dishes. Created with a long lasting cold maceration, the liquor must be served as cold as possible to prevent the alcohol from becoming too strong - the result was elegant and earthy with wonderful umami flavors.
Next up was an impressive Smoked Solid Butter Bubbles with Caviar! The technique showcased here consists of making solid bubbles from fat which in this case is smoked butter. The butter melts fast with touch though so best to eat quickly.
Then there’s the Panchino filled with beluga caviar which has become one of Disfrutar’s iconic dishes. I loved this dish a lot from my last visit so it was a joy to be reunited with it. As we were eating the bun, the team played a video demonstrating how the creation was made - wouldn’t it be great to be able to replicate this at home! Both of these caviar dishes paired wonderfully with the truffle vodka.
Fino made exclusively for the restaurant by Bodegas Tradicion in Jerez
The Almond series started with a green almond which had been confit and can be eaten with the shell. Then we were instructed to use a stone to crack open two almonds presented to us on a rock - we were told it’s childhood memories and a common way to eat almonds in the Mediterranean . Finally we finished with the white one with a powdery texture and an almond in the middle.
The Hake Empedrat with Almonds is a twist on a traditional Catalan dish which is a refreshing salad consisting of white beans and cod. Here it’s prepared with hake fish that had been brined and sous vide, and served with olives, tomatoes, almonds cooked for 14 hours, and white bean juice served on the side.
The Vitello Tonnato is a classic Italian dish but instead of veal, it’s replaced with monkfish liver here! Served with veal sauce and foams of mayonnaise-like sauce made with pickles, anchovies, and tuna. The puff pastry bread accompanying the dish is made with obulato - a Japanese transparent and ultrathin edible paper made from potato starch which melts in water but not in fat.
Biden 1999 by Mii no Kotobuki from Fukuoka.
More microwave snacks! The Pine Tree Shoot “Tempura” was not fried in oil but instead made with glutinous rice dough and cooked in microwave. The pine tree flavor was such an interesting element! We were told that the team experimented with around 50 different microwave snacks and chose these to present in the tasting menu.
The gorgeous Crunchy Mushroom Leaf was made with glutinous rice dough, hyrdrated with mushroom broth instead of water, and finally painted with porcini mushroom butter.
We were reunited with the Crispy Egg Yolk with warm mushroom gelatin - a dish that we had on our first visit in 2015. We were told to take a bite of the crispy egg yolk first and then pour the liquid egg yolk into the mushroom gelatin in the egg shell - the result was simply divine with rich umami flavors!
Check out the intricate details of the Onion Bread under the magnifying glass!
Albarino, Vi dels Pirineus 2019, Castell d’Encus, Costers del Segre
Asparagus with tangerine sauce, frozen powder of elderflower vinegar and macadamia nuts
Multispherical Peas with Cuttlefish - a traditional “surf & turf” Catalan dish with green peas, cuttlefish, and black sausage sauce
Codium Margarita in golden oyster shell, Crispy Seaweed Ravioli and Raspberry Umeboshi
A guessing game for our next dish - watch the video here! We were presented with a wooden box filled with smoke and had to guess what was in it using just our hand. And I guessed correctly...it was a prawn! To respect perfectly good ingredients, the Prawn was to be eaten as is followed by a deliciously rich traditional Catalan jus of chicken and prawn.
Newton Johnson Chardonnay 2018
The Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs - a gorgeous golden fried egg with crustaceans!
The Thai Langoustine wrapped with sweet potato noodles with Catalan bisque of coconut milk, tamarind, peanuts, grapefruit, and kaffir lime was probably the weakest dish out of the whole meal in my opinion because the flavors weren’t quite strong and punchy enough for Thai flavors.
Bodegas Bruto 2018
The Blini of Foie Gras & Pigeon topped with summer truffle was simply irresistible - wished I could have more!
The last savory course was the lovely Squab with amazake (fermented rice drink) kombu, seaweed, and nashi pear.
Desserts started with a “Brie de Brioche” where the "cheese" was actually fermented brioche dough with an emulated texture of creamy Brie cheese.
Bacharacher Wolfshohle Riesling Auslese 2004
Lemon Pie with lemon cream, crumble, yuzu and meringue
Marshmallow Taco with mango, passionfruit, basil and mint
After 28 courses, Disfrutar had one final trick up their sleeves with this amazing Sweet Table! Specially designed, the table came to life right in front of us as the team assembled and revealed the hidden treats already inside. It tells a story of the circle of life from seeds to plants, trees to flowers and the water of life that give us ingredients for the petit fours. The whole thing was breathtaking, grandiose, and theatrical - what a truly memorable way to end a meal! It's hard to showcase the awe-inspiring experience in pictures so watch the video here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CXkgLY-J1XQ/