The Grove and Baduzzi’s Ben Bayly visits the latest restaurant from elBulli chef Ferran Adrià.
Restaurant: Bodega 1900
Head chef: Pedro Asensio
The restaurant in one line: World-famous chef Ferran Adrià's own man cave serving traditional Catalonian tapas and vermouth.
Beer on hand: Estrella Damm
What made this restaurant unique?
Catalonian gentlemen are the inspiration for the latest restaurant from the man behind elBulli, chef Ferran Adrià. If you’ve ever been to Barcelona then you will recognise this archetype gentlemen; the one’s you see wiling away their time sipping vermouth, smoking a cigar and devouring tapas. It is a concept that could only be executed with this level of finesse in the Catalonian capital under the watchful eye of Adrià. Upon entering the restaurant I felt fully immersed in the culture with a waiter singing in Catalonian Spanish and playing his guitar.
What were the inspirational highlights?
As with any of Adrià's restaurants, the most inspirational element is the food. The tapas are inspired by traditional recipes but executed using modern techniques, including Adrià's trademark molecular gastronomy. Each tapa is a perfect example of how tapas should be: simple, uncomplicated and understated. It's hard to produce an unfussy dish as it doesn't allow any room for errors. But each tapa at Bodega 1900 is presented perfectly with the flavours and execution shining through.
Lessons for New Zealand restaurants
Tapas restaurants come and go rather quickly in New Zealand. Kiwi restaurateurs continued attempts of the tapa has led to the failure of many a Spanish restaurant. The humble tapa is a lesson in refined simplicity; creating an understated dish is a difficult task. Time and time again Kiwi chefs have tried to over-complicate tapas, creating an item that is so far removed from the original that it can only be described as bastardisation. New Zealand restaurants stand to learn a lot from Bodega 1900, but the most important lesson they could learn is to allow the inspiration to come from our own culture, cuisine and ingredients in order to create a truly understated Spanish tapa with a New Zealand accent.
Located a stone's throw from Tickets, Bodega's upmarket cousin, Adrià has created his own personal man cave. For me, this was truly a spiritual experience. While religious faithfuls may make a pilgrimage to Camino de Santiago when in Spain, all foodies should head straight to Bodega 1900, where the walls are lined with memorabilia celebrating Adria's career. The restaurant houses a catalogue of items, from old elBulli recipes through to photos of Adrià posing alongside other world-famous chefs, and menus prepared for royalty. As a chef, to be able to visit and be amongst these items can only be described as amazing.
Watch this video for a peek into the world of Ferran Adria's BuilliPedia. For the second instalment of this video, check out Ben's article on Pakta.
This is a simple recipe inspired by a dining experience at Bodega 1900. Instead of cooking sliders at your next dinner party try the calamari hotdog! Check out my photo on Instagram.
Hot dog buns
2¼ tsp active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water, 32C-43C
1¼ cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1¼ cup + 2 Tbsp bread flour
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
⅔ cup whole milk, warm or room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp melted butter for brushing dough
Pearl sugar to garnish (from European food stores)
- Dissolve yeast in ¼ cup warm water. Add a pinch of sugar and stir to combine. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until mixture is cloudy, foamy, and has increased in volume.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, mix together all-purpose flour, bread flour, sugar, and salt. Add yeast mixture, warm milk and egg. Knead to combine.
- Slowly add softened butter, one tablespoon at a time. Mix until incorporated. Continue to knead in machine or transfer to clean working surface and knead by hand until dough is smooth, soft and elastic.
- Roll dough into a ball and place in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough proof for 45-60 minutes until dough has doubled in volume.
- Preheat oven to 200C.
- Remove dough from bowl and deflate using the heel of your hand. Transfer to a clean working surface. Divide dough into 8 equal portions, roughly 50g each. Or divide dough to your desired size.
- Roll dough into tight balls, then roll each into a sausage shape and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes until dough has puffed up.
- Score tops of dough using a sharp paring knife. Lightly brush dough with melted butter and sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes until dough is golden in colour.
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
½ tsp Dijon-style mustard
½-¾ cup olive oil or mix of olive oil and canola or vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Whirl the egg, lemon juice, garlic and mustard in a blender to combine.
- With blender running on a low speed, drip the oil in slowly, allowing each addition to incorporate into the egg mixture before adding more. As more oil is incorporated, you can add the oil more quickly.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or cover and chill for up to two days.
This requires a thin coating of flour mixture then quick-frying in the correct proper temperature of oil. There are only a few necessary cleaning steps to remove the tough, inedible bits of squid. Or buy them already cleaned and frozen from the supermarket.
800g fresh or thawed squid
2 Ltr sunflower oil
185g all-purpose flour
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Big pinch sea salt flakes
1 lemon, cut into wedges
8 hotdog buns
Aioli and chives, to serve
- Holding squid tube, pull off head and tentacles; set aside. Rinse squid tubes under cold water, rubbing off purplish skin. Pull out the internal cartilage.
- On cutting board, pull off and discard fins from tubes. Cut off and discard eyes and head from tentacles, keeping tentacles attached on ring on top; squeeze hard beak from centre of tentacles and discard. Cut tubes crosswise into 1 cm wide rings; pat dry.
- In wok or deep heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil to 180C.
- Meanwhile, in large plastic bag, shake together flour, flour and cayenne pepper. All at once, add squid tentacles and rings to flour mixture; shake to coat. Transfer to sieve; lightly shake off excess flour mixture.
- Fry in batches, until golden, 1- 1½ minutes.
- Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with salt and add a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Slice the top of warm hotdog buns open and stuff with the squid rings, spoon aioli on top and finish with chopped chives and more lemon juice. This is a very naughty treat - only for special occasions.
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Ben Bayly, head chef of The Grove and Baduzzi, travelled to Barcelona with Estrella Damm - a major backer of Ferran Adria's BulliPedia. Check out Ben’s peek into the future of food as he visits Ferran Adria’s inspirational el BulliLab.