Has Jonathan Gold learned to love the avant-garde, modernist techniques abundant in today's restaurants? Not exactly, but he is trying. Following the critic's Twitter duel with Spanish "new cooking" mastermind Jose Andres last year, Gold bounced between Noma and Alinea in June to let The Wall Street Journal's readers know which of the two could reasonably be considered the best restaurant in the world. Now, Mr. Gold is trekking through Espana for the paper, exploring the dazzling dishes today's Iberian chefs are cooking up, using their famous arsenal of culinary science and magic tricks. What does he think?
While we suspect our favorite critic may prefer a simple plate of gambas al ajillo along the way, he boldly eats his way through some of the coolest dishes in the world: Edible fruit trees at Catalan's El Celler de Can Roca--where chef Joan Roca "is credited as the first chef to use an immersion circulator," "rouget garnished with a mosaic of its own crunchy fried scales" at San Sebastián's Martín Berasategui, and slow-cooked Iberico chinny-chin-chin at nearby Azurmendi.
After munching on clay at somewhat controversial Mugaritz, the critic finally lands at Ferran Adria's El Bulli, which he simultaneously compares to Yoko Ono's minimalist art movement and an edible infomercial. Still, the Goldster manages to make some peace with all the crazy things Adria has helped push today's chefs to attempt themselves, as he writes of the chef's prestidigitation, "It is cool, and it can be done. In the end, that is enough."
Eating Spain [WSJ]