Note: this post was composed in December 2010, a full four-and-a-half years after my dinner at El Bulli. Somehow I never got around to writing about this evening, but it definitely deserves its own post...even though the dinner pre-dates me setting up the blog.
El Bulli certainly needs no introduction. Back in 2005 when I came up with the idea of going there, it was the single hardest table to book, and I conservatively estimated that the 9,000 covers they do each year means the chance of getting a seat was about 0.2%. Things have surely gotten worse since then.
In the fall of 2005 I had asked my concierge service to get me a table. I didn't have high hopes of actually getting a table, never mind getting one on my birthday. In order to maximize my chances, I asked for a table of 6 instead of 8 as I originally wanted, given that the restaurant only seats 50. I was therefore elated when I received confirmation in December 2005, notifying me that I would be spending my birthday at El Bulli the following year.
For some people, a reservation at El Bulli is akin to the Holy Grail. A few of my friends had raised their hands and announced their willingness to drop everything and fly to Spain for a meal - should I manage to get a coveted reservation. I asked 2 other couples to come along for this special dinner, and even planned a 2-week trip to the Iberian Peninsula around it.
On the fateful day we set off from Barcelona by car and checked into Hotel Port Salins in Empuriabrava late in the afternoon. We changed into our dinner attire, jumped into a taxi and headed for our destination just outside Roses. Paying for an expensive taxi ride would prove to be the right decision, as none of us would want to drive along the winding road at night, especially when wine has been consumed.
We took a quick look inside the kitchen, sat down and waited for the food to arrive.
fresas/mandarina/campari - interesting tastes of sweet orange plus bitter Campari
The 6 of us went through 4½ bottles of wine, which were:
1990 Bollinger RD
2001 Pazo de Señorans Selección de Añada
1999 Comte Lafon Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Le Champ Gain
1998 Artadi Grandes Añadas
1993 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos Saint Urbain Rangen de Thann SGN
By the time we were done with dinner, it was close to midnight and some 4 hours after we arrived. We retired to the outdoor terrace, and the boys (and girl) lit our cigars while we took in our coffee.