Monday, August 1, 2011

El Bulli's Last Day

"We came to El Bulli without a spirit, and we left with a soul." -José Andrés
After years of trying to get a reservation at El Bulli, ready to suck up the debt that it would take to plan a trip around a single restaurant, my hopes were dashed last December when the rejection letter came out, and soon after the news that El Bulli would close. I thought the day, the last day, would pass without even remembering it, kind of like you forget a close friend's birthday, and we're all getting a little older so nobody gives a crap in the end. But Saturday came and went, my friends, and I remembered. And I was actually too sad to write about it.
Where will new frontiers be discovered? Will they still have the same ties to humble origins, as they were at El Bulli? The trick to great molecular gastronomy is to use fanciful, but scientific techniques to unearth playful sentiments about a time and a place. I've seen glimmers of excellence at Momofuku Ko, which blasts a soundtrack that includes Iron Maiden, and also at WD50. I have high hopes to someday spend some time at Alinea or Next, and I've experienced a symphony of imagination at Pierre Gagnaire in Paris... those once per year meals where you go Dutch, because frankly if you're not dating a big shot trader, you're both in it because you love it and it's simultaneously all too much money but worth every penny. 
I look forward to what the world has in store. Other institutions in Spain? Noma in Denmark? Moto in Chicago? Maybe El Bulli will never be matched in its generous creativity, and as José Andrés remarked, the proprietor's ability to share all of his divine epiphanies. But maybe it will. We'll all keep our eyes open. 

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