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#31 Tuckerman

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 02:31 PM

If you say it's good, I wholeheartedly believe you. My only problem is that thinking about salmon and licorice is making me feel a bit iffy. :P


Yes well that's a good example of their modus oprandi. The combos sound bizarre on paper but when you taste them the flavours have had their extremeness refined out of them. The liquorice flavour was very muted, very subtle. And it is this subtlety which gives the meal its precision and sophistication.

#32 faijay465

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 03:33 PM


A take on the Fat Duck that quite made me miss LML:
When the performance finally began we were waiting for the Degustation Menu for 97 British pounds (which can only be ordered for the table) the opening was a white foam of green tea from a spray can, which, with the help of liquid nitrogen, was transformed into a half-solid morsel. Why, I'm not sure. I prefer to drink green tea hot and in a cup. The second act was a passion fruit jelly in an oyster shell - that was better. Then two huge plates were brought out, in the middle of each, a nut-sized dumpling in violet sauce: supposedly mustard ice.

With this fart of nothingness, the leitmotiv of this cuisine became clear to me. It was the old nouvelle cuisine. Then there was jelly again with cream in a specially custom-made porcelain egg: something like a foie gras parfait.

After this appetiser, it continued: three snails on a parsley-green porridge said to contain jabugo ham - not that this was to be tasted. What was to be tasted were the two little cubes of foie gras which accompanied an almond gel. The sardine to follow was as big as a fingernail and disappeared, unidentified in the depths. Then came a piece of salmon coated in licorice and that was not only original, but so delicate that I would even have wished for a bigger piece. I had the same thought with the little tid-bit of scrumptiously seasoned pigeon breast.

After, there was a series of sweet things, which also suffered from a certain deficiency of size. They were served with as much significance as absurdity. At the same time, one was expected to sniff a tiny vial, only sniff, probably to hear the angels singing from the heavens. This worked about as well as the little baggie of muesli, whose contents one was expected to douse in a milk-like liquid.

At which point, my escort snarled: "Are they trying to make an ass of me?"




It's very easy to approach restaurants like The Fat Duck from that point of view-"it's not real food", "he's avin a larf" "it's taking the piss" etc. The point is you really shouldn'tgo there if you're not prepared to enter into the schtick of the place. Everyone knows by now what this restaurant is all about. If you want a conventional solid three course meal you don't go to The Fat Duck or El Bulli. You go to these restaurants precisely because they are experimental, wacky, unusual etc. Its just plain silly to go there and then moan about that. And if you can get past some of the wackiness you'll find, at The Fat Duck at least some precise. confident and delicious food. But only if you allow yourself to.

What I am still unable to grasp is how much of the food tastes good. I am willing to go along with the joke as long as it is rewarding to eat the food. I may be wrong, but this stuff will have to develop further and make more sense before it will not be so elitist and out of reach for most people. BTW I am a curious duck, so I am planning on going to the Fat Duck when I next visit my sister in London, and my dear friends and companions in eating are plotting our trip to El Bulli. We will submit our reservation requests yearly until successful or we die, whatever comes first. I still like to decide for myself and see for myself.:P

#33 Tuckerman

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 04:05 PM

What I am still unable to grasp is how much of the food tastes good. I am willing to go along with the joke as long as it is rewarding to eat the food. I may be wrong, but this stuff will have to develop further and make more sense before it will not be so elitist and out of reach for most people. BTW I am a curious duck, so I am planning on going to the Fat Duck when I next visit my sister in London, and my dear friends and companions in eating are plotting our trip to El Bulli. We will submit our reservation requests yearly until successful or we die, whatever comes first. I still like to decide for myself and see for myself.:P


IMO serving up food which tastes good is not the number one priority of The Fat Duck and certainly not of El Bulli. That's not to say that good tasting food is not a priority at the FD which is altogether more balanced between technique and deliciousness then EB, but creativity and technique still takes precedence over deliciousness when it comes down to it, so if you are ONLY interested in food which tastes great and are not particularly interested in creativity and technique as ends in themselves you will feel disappointed/ conned by The Fat Duck, as many still apparently do.

#34 g.johnson

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 04:09 PM

IMO serving up food which tastes good is not the number one priority of The Fat Duck and certainly not of El Bulli. That's not to say that good tasting food is not a priority at the FD which is altogether more balanced between technique and deliciousness then EB, but creativity and technique still takes precedence over deliciousness when it comes down to it, so if you are ONLY interested in food which tastes great and are not particularly interested in creativity and technique as ends in themselves you will feel disappointed/ conned by The Fat Duck, as many still apparently do.

This seems to me bizarre. Creativity and technique are not an end in themselves and if the aim is not good tasting food, then what is it?
The Obnoxious Glyn Johnson

#35 Tuckerman

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 04:18 PM

[quote name='g.johnson' date='Jul 29 2006, 02:09 PM' post='719409']

[/quote]
This seems to me bizarre. Creativity and technique are not an end in themselves and if the aim is not good tasting food, then what is it?
[/quote]

That's not what I said. I said that the overall number one priority is not deliciousness. It is creativity and technique. Much of the food at El Bulli is not delicious at all. People do not go there first and foremost for a "delicious" meal. Much of the food is sent back after one or two tastes and the waiters never ask you why. They expect it.

The balance is better at The Fat Duck but if deliciousness was all that mattered why bother working and refining the food like it does? Deliciousness does matter. But technique matters more.

These restaurants are interesting because they attempt to push the boundaries of what can be done with food. They are hyper modernistic and play upon memories and expectations. They see food as theatre and as play and wish to take you on a gastro fun ride. If none of this interests you and all you want is a delicious meal, then these restaurants are not for you.

#36 macrosan

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 04:23 PM

I found my one meal at FD delicious. At least half of it, which is more than I can say for Arpege or my second meal at l'Ambroisie, or my last meal at RHR. There was only one item (as far as I recall) which I found unpleasant, and the rest were pretty good.

#37 g.johnson

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 04:25 PM

The balance is better at The Fat Duck but if deliciousness was all that mattered why bother working and refining the food like it does? Deliciousness does matter. But technique matters more.

These restaurants are interesting because they attempt to push the boundaries of what can be done with food. They are hyper modernistic and play upon memories and expectations. They see food as theatre and as play and wish to take you on a gastro fun ride. If none of this interests you and all you want is a delicious meal, then these restaurants are not for you.

Again, technique as an end in itself is daft.

You answered my question anyway, even if you didn't realize.
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#38 Tuckerman

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 04:32 PM

The point is you can get a delicious meal at any number of restaurants. The issue is whether all you want is a delicious meal. If you do you certainly don't have to schlep out to Bray and pay the prices charged at The Fat Duck. You can get delicious meals in London at half the price. What you're getting at FD is something else other than just "deliciousness". In fact some of it might not be as delicious as at those other places. But it is aiming for a different kind of gastro experience that incorporates deliciousness but is not just about deliciousness. :P

#39 faijay465

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 07:39 PM

The point is you can get a delicious meal at any number of restaurants. The issue is whether all you want is a delicious meal. If you do you certainly don't have to schlep out to Bray and pay the prices charged at The Fat Duck. You can get delicious meals in London at half the price. What you're getting at FD is something else other than just "deliciousness". In fact some of it might not be as delicious as at those other places. But it is aiming for a different kind of gastro experience that incorporates deliciousness but is not just about deliciousness. :P

I understand what you are saying which certainly applies to art, so if you view HB and FA as artists and innovators the point is taken. But if the point is not to eat the food, what is the point. May as well just display the wonderful techniques and creative plates in a museum and forget about paying to eat it. Buy it for your walls. Since I can't do that I will still try at least one.

#40 faijay465

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 07:43 PM

IMO serving up food which tastes good is not the number one priority of The Fat Duck and certainly not of El Bulli. That's not to say that good tasting food is not a priority at the FD which is altogether more balanced between technique and deliciousness then EB, but creativity and technique still takes precedence over deliciousness when it comes down to it, so if you are ONLY interested in food which tastes great and are not particularly interested in creativity and technique as ends in themselves you will feel disappointed/ conned by The Fat Duck, as many still apparently do.

This seems to me bizarre. Creativity and technique are not an end in themselves and if the aim is not good tasting food, then what is it?

If it is not the aim then the much vaunted search for the best and freshest ingredients would no longer be important. There is a blog here in Toronto--Hungry in Hogtown--that is almost entirely devoted to cooking the food of Adria. The blogger seems to love the food cause it is a lot of trouble (getting the chemicals and all). If you have not seen it check it out.

#41 Tuckerman

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 08:10 PM

I understand what you are saying which certainly applies to art, so if you view HB and FA as artists and innovators the point is taken. But if the point is not to eat the food, what is the point.


No the aim is to eat and enjoy the food of course. It's just that that is not the only aim. The aim is also to introduce people to new and unusual culinary experiences, to tittillate and amuse, to get them to ponder on what they're eating, to get them to reflect on some of their preconceptions about how and what they eat, and so on. It's all done in a spirit of fun but some people do not buy into that. And some people can't be bothered with it. They just want a delicious meal. And if that's all you want then there's not much point in going to these places.

#42 faijay465

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 08:13 PM



I understand what you are saying which certainly applies to art, so if you view HB and FA as artists and innovators the point is taken. But if the point is not to eat the food, what is the point.


No the aim is to eat and enjoy the food of course. It's just that that is not the only aim. The aim is also to introduce people to new and unusual culinary experiences, to tittillate and amuse, to get them to ponder on what they're eating, to get them to reflect on some of their preconceptions about how and what they eat, and so on. It's all done in a spirit of fun but some people do not buy into that. And some people can't be bothered with it. They just want a delicious meal. And if that's all you want then there's not much point in going to these places.

Okay, gotchya. I will have to eat there and see if it appeals to me or not. Can't tell without the experience but I am game if not gamey. :P

#43 macrosan

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 08:15 PM

I understand what you are saying which certainly applies to art, so if you view HB and FA as artists and innovators the point is taken. But if the point is not to eat the food, what is the point. May as well just display the wonderful techniques and creative plates in a museum and forget about paying to eat it. Buy it for your walls. Since I can't do that I will still try at least one.

But you're providing only two extreme alternatives, faijay. The "point" lies in the middle.

Between food scoring 10 for deliciousness and zero for innovation and skill, and zero for deliciousness and 10 for innovation and skill, there sits a fat duck :P What Blumenthal does, I believe, is apply his innovative drive and skill to the objective of producing something that scores anywhere between 4 and 8 on the deliciousness scale, balanced by 6 to 2 on the innovation and expression-of-skill scale.

I have now had several three star meals which only score 4 on the deliciousness scale an yway, and they're still zero on all other counts :P My own preference is always towards delicious, but I am happy on occasion to sample "reasonably delicious and very interesting" as a valid culinary alternative. I doubt that I would go for the Extreme Eating represented by El Bulli.

#44 Wilfrid1

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 08:26 PM

I think regulars at WD-50 in New York would agree that the balance there has evolved: although the cuisine is still experimental, it has gradually become more satisfying and more reliably delicious. So the balance can change.
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#45 faijay465

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 05:03 PM

I understand what you are saying which certainly applies to art, so if you view HB and FA as artists and innovators the point is taken. But if the point is not to eat the food, what is the point. May as well just display the wonderful techniques and creative plates in a museum and forget about paying to eat it. Buy it for your walls. Since I can't do that I will still try at least one.

But you're providing only two extreme alternatives, faijay. The "point" lies in the middle.

Between food scoring 10 for deliciousness and zero for innovation and skill, and zero for deliciousness and 10 for innovation and skill, there sits a fat duck :P What Blumenthal does, I believe, is apply his innovative drive and skill to the objective of producing something that scores anywhere between 4 and 8 on the deliciousness scale, balanced by 6 to 2 on the innovation and expression-of-skill scale.

I have now had several three star meals which only score 4 on the deliciousness scale an yway, and they're still zero on all other counts :P My own preference is always towards delicious, but I am happy on occasion to sample "reasonably delicious and very interesting" as a valid culinary alternative. I doubt that I would go for the Extreme Eating represented by El Bulli.

See--and I want to try it at the source--El Bulli. Hope that happens, since this discussion was interesting and I should be able to add to it in a few years. Well, earlier for Fat Duck since I will be in London in 2007.