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Jul 23, 2014
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘Tivoli Theatre’

A look at El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, opening at the Tivoli Friday

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

020212_ferranadriaThe word “transcend” gets kicked around a lot, as in a work of art so earth-shattering that it manages to transcend the genre.

But truly, to appreciate what Ferran Adrià (pictured) did with his late, lamented Spanish restaurant, El Bulli, is to understand that the maverick chef transcended the idea of what a restaurant – and maybe even what cooking itself – can be. The window into his world comes courtesy of the documentary El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, which opens at the Tivoli Theatre this Friday and runs through Thursday, Feb. 9. This look at Adrià, the “Salvador Dali of the kitchen” – freely devising dishes like tangerine and green olive bits in vinaigrette, with ice chips added tableside – is sure to inspire chefs angling to shake up their menus and travel further into the endless vistas of taste and creativity.

We can only imagine what a dish like that would taste and feel like – the ice, fruit and oils rolling around our tongues. The same goes for the pineapple phyllo. And the praline ravioli in “vanishing” pockets of pasta (The pouches dissolve on contact with the tongue, revealing the flavors within immediately.). And all the other bizarre innovations that make up the parade of 35 dishes, brought out one-by-one every six minutes, to comprise the three-hour, epic prix-fixe meals for those diners lucky enough to actually score seats in Adrià’s rarefied food arena (a meal for which they paid about $500).

The film, shot in 2008 and 2009, is divided into two parts. It moves from the half-year experimentation process in a secondary location in Barcelona to the half-year of cooking and service at El Bulli itself, which became a theater where Adrià’s fanciful whims finally enter the greater world. Adrià and his assistant chefs experiment in a Barcelona kitchen, taking careful notes on all the different permutations of their potential recipes, tasting tiny morsels, slowly circling about what they hope will eventually become something new, daring and delectable. But it’s not even about whether something tastes good, at first, said Adrià in the film, but whether it is “magical – it opens up a new path.”

The creative process is far from over when Adrià’s team packs up their equipment and notes and heads for El Bulli. The acclaimed chef sits at a table in El Bulli’s kitchen, painstakingly tasting everything again and again to fine-tune the final menu. It’s clear that he puts a high value on spontaneity, as he doesn’t even name the dishes, in many cases, until the server has actually placed the plated items on a tray and is passing Adrià on his way out of the kitchen. Remember, the waiters need to know what to tell diners unsure of just what they’re eating or how to eat it. On the first day of the season, Adrià divulges this information at the last possible second. It’s a purposeful kind of insanity.

Because the diners eat 35 different dishes, the aggressive pace of service mustn’t flag. The staff is drilled like a military squad. Dozens of cooks at a bank of tables lean over their respective mise en place, performing close, careful work on dishes they have certainly never imagined. They manage to balance artful, delicate presentations of breaded tuna fish marrow, pumpkin meringue sandwiches with almonds and summer truffles, pine sprouts brushed with spruce honey, and on and on. A bizarre cocktail of olive oil, carbonated water and salt is served to tease the lips with the softness of oil. Courses have names like “Parmesan crystal,” “coconut sponge,” and “minted ice lake.”

The viewer comes away with a perception of Adrià as a kind of Miles Davis of cuisine, continually reinventing the medium, leaving everyone else to guess what comes next.

Foodies will feel a sense of wistfulness at this one – El Bulli closed last year, when Adrià, tired of 20-plus years of experimentation and intense service (and set on finding new paradigms), announced at the El Bulli site that “We will transform into a creativity center, opening in 2014. Its main objective is to be a think-tank for creative cuisine and gastronomy and will be managed by a private foundation.”

Adventurous eaters will be stunned into wonder by Adrià the artist, let loose to indulge his caprices. But chefs might just need to make a point of watching this film to remind themselves why they’ve made this their career. When you cook like a mad scientist with a gleam in his eye, you might just turn a meal into a magic trick that won’t be soon forgotten.

Cheap Date: Mussels and a Movie

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

CheapDate_logoWelcome to Cheap Date, a new online column that takes the stress out of planning your next date. Every other Thursday, Nightlife reviewer Matt Berkley will reveal how you can enjoy the best our city has to offer for under (or around) $30.

It’s easy to be lulled. Dinner and a movie; the old fallback. Simple to plan and light on the wallet, right? Yeah, maybe in 1992. These days, with first-run theater prices skyrocketing to compete with the likes of competitors such as DirecTV and Netflix pumping out movies as soon as they can gobble up the rights, trips to the Cineplex are getting fewer and farer between. Which is a shame. Movie dates come off as clichéd, but they have the potential to be a couples’ most memorable. The challenge is to draw out some novelty and make it truly intimate. Thankfully, this need not include an über expensive scheme.

CheapDate_movies


The Flick

When it comes to movies, romance is for suckers. Go for horror instead; the cheaper and campier the better. Whether it’s the bad acting; the cheesy, plastic ex-ray specs; the implausible story line; or the sub-par effects, you’ll both have something to laugh about on the way home. It’s probably been too long since you’ve been to the Tivoli Theatre, which runs a regular series of Reel Late Midnight Movies – classics from the 70s, 80s and 90s that are well worth revisiting for a meager $7 per seat. This weekend showcases the original 1975 Steven Spielberg masterpiece Jaws. Sorry, but if seeing Robert Shaw bitten in half doesn’t say romance, than I don’t know what does. Seriously though, its time you see this one on the big screen.


CheapDate_3Kings


The Pre-Flick Food

Spend enough time around girls and you’ll figure out a few things. For example: In all honesty, when it comes to dining out, they much prefer appetizers and/or desserts to a main course. Grab this fact and run with it. Before the midnight show, hit up Three Kings Public House, across the street from the Tivoli, and share a delectable starter like the $10.99 mussels and fries – a smart combo of Edward Island mussels and fries with curried caper mayo dipping sauce. Throw in a few beers and you’ll just hit the $30 to $35 range with the movie included.

For a cheaper (and sweeter) option, skip the pub and instead share an oversized ice cream or yogurt creation of your own from Ben & Jerry’s, Cold Stone Creamery or FroYo (each within a block).

— Three Kings photo by David Kovaluk

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