Albert Adrià

October 3, 2018
Albert Adrià, a festival of ‘shorts’   An enigma will be an enigma for as long as it is not fully understood and remains unresolved. An enigma must stay closely linked to mystery, to hermeticism, to secrecy. An enigma can also be uncertainty, darkness, concealment. The obvious, the simple, the normal, does not seem to be – at least in appearance – enigmatic. To recognize an enigma, we must see if it is able to reduce us to a position of helplessness, insecurity, perplexity, doubt. If it does not disturb or trouble us, it is not an enigma; if we see a way out, it is not an enigma. If it does not make you hesitate, it is not an enigma either. A dish of steak and chips is not an enigma for the palate, but the delicateness of an ultra-puffed pancake with pistachio and yuzu paste, accompanied by a liquorice-based drink, is an appetizer that is sure to disorient you. I recommend you enjoy these riddles with joy and a flexible approach.   The other evening, I discovered an enigma, called Enigma. It is elBarri’s flagship, a group of six restaurants that Albert Adrià, its gastronomic coordinator, defines as a ‘theme park’. Or as they call it in other countries, an ‘amusement park’; in other words, an enclosure where you go in search of thrilling emotions.   Steamed King-crab bone marrow with roe, all of which is sipped, like a custard. I’ve heard gourmands complain that in some establishments they treat you like a child, but maybe the error lies in resisting that, at least for a few hours. Escalope of duck foie-gras with anchovy salt (10 minutes of an hourglass timer) with Arbequina oil. If we don’t bring out our more playful, curious, wild and innocent side, we won’t be able to enjoy the enigma. Lobster cured in beef fat (for 24 hours) then char grilled. Enigma is the roller coaster or the adrenalin rush you get from the Inverter ride at this great culinary park. Chawanmushi or sea-urchin custard with fresh, grated wasabi from the Montseny mountains.   It is at Enigma where Albert Adrià journeys along the winding path of the avant-garde, and you never know where he will take you. The avant-garde is also enigmatic, as it puts you at the tip of the spearhead: facing the unknown. Being the spearhead implies anticipating others and taking the most risks. That’s where the visionaries, the pioneers and the Utopians are. Steamed snakelocks-anemone salad with cream and grilled lettuce. More than a movie, Enigma is a festival of short films, which is more experimental and surprising (that’s all I’ll say). It’s better to go there blindly, without having seen the trailers (Instagram, Tripadvisor) that don’t do it justice. The cast consists of 40 people, and Albert Adrià, Oliver Peña (executive chef) and Cristina Losada (service manager and sommelier) are its stars. Steamed peach with almond and tarragon, served with dazzling sake wines. I just hope I’ve not let the cat out of the bag. A gin and nori seaweed binomial. Don’t show me the way out of here! A drink of mezcal and bitter almonds. Cut the thread... I don’t want to leave the labyrinth.   By Andoni Sarriegi