Bulli (now closed)- The books
El Bulli has been voted by chefs as the best restaurant in the world. The El Bulli cookbooks by Ferran Adria cover the back catalogue of their creations, which incidentally can be sampled at the El Bulli hotel, Benazuza. They are first published in Catalan and Castilian, versions in English become available later.
These books are not cheap, costing four times the price of the usual restaurant based cookbook.
Are they worth it?
I have El Bulli !998-2002, the large format volume comes in a case with an explanatory folder. The book is in two parts, a catalogue of photos and a evolutionary analysis, both divided by year. The accompanying CD ROM holds the recipes, menus and video. The photographs are of excellent quality. As you might expect this "cookbook" (I hesitate to use the word) is unlike most others. I was curious to know how the "consommé tagliatelli" was made so I looked under C and T in the recipe index but could not find it, so I used the search facility, which did. (This is useful as the dishes are listed by the first word of their titles). The recipe was fully detailed, right down to "stirring clockwise".
Will I spend the eight hours plus cooking the dish?
Do I have the skill to make it?
Possibly no on both counts, but my curiosity is satisfied and I just might apply the technique and idea to something else.
For those willing to accept the challenge there is a piece of equipment essential for making his famous and revolutionary foams (espumas), the ISI Thermowhip.
to answer my original question, these books are
worthwhile to a cook
who wishes to know more about the frontiers of
cooking and are an
souvenir of a trip to El Bulli restaurant or hotel.
On the proverbial
table they would make a talking point amongst
have few equals.
Sous-Vide Cuisine - Joan Roja and Salvador Brugues
Another area of modern cooking tackled by fellow Catalan Joan Roja. This title tackles the low temperature vacuum packed method of cooking used in restaurants such as Roja's Moo and Celler de Can Roja as well as in "industrial" cook chill cooking. However these techniques require great care in preparation and expensive specialized equipment that I believe make this book only suited to the food professional.
Adriá's foams revolutionised high end restaurant cooking in the mid 1990s. An essential part of copying them is the ISI Thermowhip, a whipped cream maker that has been developed to create cold and hot foams. The El Bulli cookbooks give instructions for quantities of gelatin, chilling/warming etc. but there is also an invaluable introduction to foams in The Cook's Book written by Adriá himself. The Thermowhip costs under £60 with a supply of canisters and is easy to find on sale on the web from suppliers such as Pennine Tea and Coffee or Carrick Leather goods (in UK).
Spanish cookery books
See also :-
Modern British cookery books & reference works