Jun

20

 After I got to the odd warehouse/loft venue on the 6th floor at 150 Varick—to a back room behind hall after hall of hip-hop clothing and buyers having nothing to do with the plain white-stucco'ed room where the film would be shown on the wall, and all there was at the 'reception' was a bin of beer, nothing else (even water), as the hour for the screening approached–they finally brought out a few Vietnamese things that were hard to identify, but sort of like tasteless white bao-bracketed sandwiches, maybe fish or chicken or something else entirely. Odd flavorings, like crystalline sugar or shredded algae as dressings. Each time a waiter came in, with about 100 guests milling about in their Manolo Blahniks and Ermenegildo Zegnas, they high-plattered about 7 sandwiches or canapes of indeterminate etiology onto a platter. Quickly, very quickly, emptied. Thence a wait for 10 more minutes for 7 more of these unusual edibles to be ferried in. A carafe of ice water appeared! At last, some water for my plastic cup of ice (scooped from the homely beer cooler, as a last resort to sweltering heat and no inclination toward beer).

The film was introduced, with the sad news that Bulli would see its last customer on 30 July. Hold your horses if you want to indulge—chef Ferran Adrià just decided, at the very Michelin top of his profession, to close up shop. Reservations were long since closed out. On the day they opened, in fact. There has not been an open place for a seating since the one day a year they open the phone for reservations. (There were 2 million requests for the 6 months they serve. That is a two with six zeroes after it.) The setting is on the scenic outskirty skirt of Barcelona, nowhere easy to get to.

The film is outstanding–*EL BULLI*, the world-famous restaurant that is closing end of July, I am sorry I cannot get to Spain to sample the miraculous creations the food imagineers and chefs concoct. Perhaps the best restaurant in the world, according to Michelin and the scant-favors /New York Times/. But however intoxicatingly amazing the confections (can we even call these unprecedented gustatory sculptures of taste that?), entrees and nameless wonders may be, they never got around to discussing the cost of this exorbitantly fabulous fare.

But such exorbitantly fabulous fare. What does price matter? Mere money is just green. These meals are a morsel of memorable majesty and magnificence. Whatever it costs, it cannot but be worth well more than one deducts from Mr. Visa or Mistress MasterCard. What the winter ice-fantasy carving extravaganza is to Harbin, China, and the art caravanserai of Art Basel is to South Beach, Florida, every February is to painting and canvases, *El Bulli* is to food.

At the end, I felt it was a transcendent involvement, and the audience of critics and chi-chi downtown types were knit together by the experience of seeing the developmental lab work of six months of R&D (every year it has been open for business) researching, documenting and formulating—exactifying and quantifying by tiny increments, taste upon taste, sensation upon sensation—the most exquisite ingredients in the most 'bewildering' and teasing conjugality.

And always: tasting, nibbling, sipping, popping into the mouth. And chewing, savoring, laving with the tastes coating the millions of taste buds in the moist ready orifice.

Reservations for this year are foreclosed and done. So <sigh> cross that divine wish off your bucket list.

When the tasting menu of this year's outstanding 35 unveiled onto the screen, two by two, like Noah's chosen survivalist species, mouth-wateringly poetized below the foods the precious word-pictures captivated, I needed…a cigarette… .


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