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I'll start with a disclaimer - I am a hobbyist and not a prefessionally trained chef. Even if you are a very experienced hobbyist don't expect to be able to prepare more than 5-10% (or less) of the recipes in this book. This book is not a beginner or even an advanced cookbook. While it contains recipes (on the attached CDROM), most of these recipes contain techniques that are far from standard and that may require specialized chemicals (such as Sodium Alginate and liquid nitrogen) and/or devices (such as a PacoJet, or a syphon with elBulli devised attachments). Furthermore, these recipes are far from forgiving, and most of the time you'll end up with a *really* unappetizing mess rather than a meal. Practicing before inviting friends is not an option with this one... For perspective, I own about 50 cookbooks, from the basics to celebrity chef bibles. To compare, apart from a few complex recipes, about 50% of Thomas Kellers' book is pretty doable.
Now for the good. This book is more of an inspirational journey than a cookbook. It chronicles a team of chefs journey outside of the realm of the known. Ferran Adria has reached the pinnacle of traditional cuisine, got the elusive third Michelin star, and instead of cashing in by opening cloned 3 star restaurants (like Alain Ducasse and Thomas Keller) has decided to venture out and explore.
The book is part of a series of books obssessivly annotating this journey. As an example of the depth of the obssession lies the tools the team created: To the young team yet unaware of the rigorous language of food science - mere words seemed inadequate to describe the products and procedures they had invented.Read more ›
If you are considering purchasing this product you are either in the industry, know somebody who is in the industry, or someone who just plain loves food. The El Bulli books, created by the Culinary Dynamic Duo the Adria brothers is by far some of the most amazing and inspirational abstract food art in the world.
While these food creations are not intended for the home cook, the likes created by these two remarkable chefs and the Molecular Gastronomy movement that they helped to create have made these once unheard of ingredients slightly more available to the general public. There are various resources out on the internet that are reasonably priced ([...] comes to mind) for anyone who dreams of replicating what they see.
Even if you haven't the patience or the talent to perfect these now classic techniques, this book is an invaluable addition to anyone's private collection simply for the historical wonder of this ever-changing craft. The photos and memiors are incredible to read and the production value is just outstanding. A must own for any enthusiast.
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I apologize in advance to all my fellow foodies for stating a minority (and probably politically incorrect) opinion here -- please forgive me. This is a beautiful book, and it describes amazing food; but for anybody who is not a professional chef AND a mad scientist, the preparations are totally unattainable. Reading this book is like reading about a supermodel: admire and ogle and fantasize all you want, but do you really think you have any chance of meeting, conversing with, or dating such a woman? It also reminds me of the music of Harry Partch, which can only be played on one-of-a-kind instruments which Partch invented; without the cooking implements available only to the chefs of El Bulli, plus a fully-stocked chemistry lab to synthesize nanofoods and monitor pH levels, recreating the vast majority of these dishes is largely impossible. And since the restaurant is only open 6 months a year, and accommodates less than 1% of those requesting reservations, it is highly unlikely you'll ever taste any of the food either, even if you can afford the 300-Euro-per-person tab (hotel & airfare not included). So, one is forced to ask: What's the point? I suppose, for about the price of a single meal for one at El Bulli, it might yield some vicarious pleasures and satisfy some of your curiosity about how a particular dish is made. And it is certainly a VERY generous Christmas gift for your relative the foody who has absolutely everything. But if you're expecting to be able to take this book into the kitchen and recreate El Bulli cuisine, sorry -- you're whistling past the compost pile.
Please read my comments made under El Bulli 1997 Again, this is really for professional chefs . Adria does give details about his spherification techniques and there are some photos and description of the technique . What I did not see mentioned was how important it is to control the pH of the reaction . The more acidic the solution, the less readily will the spherification process proceed. There are also questions of taste and flavour if one alters the pH of the reacting solutions. In Australia, the simplest of these techniques are being trialled by some Chefs to give variety to their meals. Remember that Adria has a team of chemists etc in his laboratory attached to the restaurant so that his recipes are exactly quantified and will work for him .See my 1997 comments. For the money, I would not recommend these books to the non professional chef (except as a wonderful coffee table book) and they will certainly make professional chefs think (especially about plating) but the latter should not expect too much success without the aid of a scientist , preferably a molecular gastronomist. The 2004 book deals mainly with his use of liquid nitrogen and I refer you to my previous comments in El Bulli 1997 etc
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