No one has had more to do with Spain's emergence as the pacesetter in international haute cuisine than Ferran Adrià, a stocky, friendly and constantly moving impresario of gastronomic innovation. His restaurant, El Bulli, which is located up a winding road near the town of Rosas on Catalonia's Costa Brava, gets 1 million reservation requests a year, only about 8,000 of which he can honor. Adrià puts no truck in old standbys. His constantly shifting degustation menu always aims to trump itself. A meal lasts for hours, alternating between sweet and savory, hot and cold, familiar and otherworldly: fried rabbit ears, for instance, translucently thin and tasting like pork rinds; spaghetti not topped with Parmesan but fashioned from it; carrots turned into foam, artichokes into puree, and foie gras into ice cream. For such alchemy, Adrià maintains a "laboratory workshop" in nearby Barcelona, where he experiments with everything from centrifuges to cotton- candy machines. Adrià sees Spain's pioneering departure from the norms set by French cuisine as only natural. "It is objectively true that Spain discovered America and brought about a change in cuisine," he says. "During the Golden Age, we taught Europe to eat." The foodies of the world can always be sure that for Adrià, the age of discovery will never end.
From the Archive
The Labyrinth of the Catalan Chef: Adria at El Bull