Want a truly gastronomic experience? Then never book a table for more than four diners, says Ferran Adrià. As the ex-head chef of elBulli explained to The Daily Telegraph in an interview published recently, "If you do, you end up talking about things that have nothing to do with the food and sometimes you don't even know why you've gone to that particular restaurant."
Got that? Good, because Ferran also gave the paper some restaurant tips. He began by qualifying any recommendations by saying that his opinion is no more important than any other diner, although he agreed - having built up the most influential restaurant in the world - that perhaps he noticed things others do not.
Top of his list is Astrid y Gaston in Lima, Peru a restaurant founded by a German and Peruvian couple that serves, in Adrià's opinion, "inventive Peruvian-Mediterranean cuisine." The restaurant lists not only chefs and sommeliers among its 'contributors', but also a composer, three fashion designers and a historical adviser. Sounds pretty directional.
Next is Mibu in Toyko's Ginza district. Commonly described as East Asia's most exclusive restaurant, Mibu has only eight seats, no website, and does not take reservations. However, Adrià argues, "that's not to say it's elitist. It offers a unique dining experience, one of the most incredible in the world." The menu is, nominally, Japanese, "but it's got nothing to do with what people think of when they think of Japanese food. It's another world beyond that. If you want to go on a trip that's focused on food Japan is a great destination and a visit to Mibu is always a performance, it's incredible."
His brother, Albert Adrià's place, 41° in Barcelona, gets a mention too; Ferran admits that, in recommending it, "I'm not being at all objective." Though he still seems rather taken with the place, which serves 41 different dishes, each of which is matched with a complementary cocktail. "The whole experience looks at the debate about what you should drink with your food," says Ferran.
Pujol in Mexico City made number seventeen in the World's Fifty Best Restaurants in 2013. Adrià approves of this placing, adding "it is an excellent showcase for Mexican gastronomy," a national cuisine that is, in Adrià's opinion, "one of the best in the world," although he cautions, "if you try Mexican food outside of Mexico it loses the detail."
For his final choice, Adrià picks somewhere accessible to Europeans with a decent Airmiles balance. "I think it's very interesting to look at what's happening in Morocco now," Adrià says. "It seems chefs there are taking advantage of the region's culinary history and producing really interesting things."
While he isn't drawn on exactly which chefs and where, he does explain that "Arabic cuisine was the most cultured and progressive and if you look back at this heritage and return to the origins of its development, you'll see how many of the techniques that began there are now taken for granted. Like the use of sugar, for example."
In all it's a fascinating piece, as well as a great to-do list for the world's more upwardly mobile gourmets. Read the full article, here, and for more on the world of Mr Adrià, consider our easily accessed books, including our forthcoming seven-volume set, elBulli 2005-2011.