Disfrutar means “enjoy” in Catalan. It was started by 3 alumni of el Bulli - Oriol Castro, Mateu Casañas, Eduard Xatruch, and received its 2nd Michelin star this past year. It has a very modern style of interior design which has won an interior design award this past year. As you walk thru the bar area, with some seating, you will see the dining area with high ceiling and hung objects for decoration. It also has a courtyard to offer outdoor dining when weather condition allows.
There were 5 sets of Tasting menus and I chose the most comprehensive one for a 3 ½ hours dining.
1st Course - Frozen Passion Fruit Lady Finger with Rum
Passion fruit foam, frozen powder pepper mint and rum sauce. Obulato is a clear film, it disappears in contact with water but holds oil. It was originally used in Japan for candy wrapping or medicine. Techniques were further developed at el Bulli to create very thin and delicate wafers but with more strength. These wafer-thin edible sheets made from rice or potato starch can be used to create beautiful garnishes which melt in the mouth. Obulato thin semi-transparent layer can be combined in thousands of different ways with other ingredients into other forms and into various flavor. It is an ideal play toy for the molecular gastronomy. It can be strengthened by making more layers and then get dehydrated slowly or baked at low temperature. Three Chefs/owners of Disfrutar have mastered their gastronomy skill and technique since their days at el Bulli.
Passion fruit lady finger with rum was delicious with balanced flavor and taste that passion fruit’s flavor was not overwhelmed by rum.
2nd Course - The Best That Comes Out of The Land
Beet root meringue with beet juice with yeast powder. The fun part of serving this dish was lost in the still photo. The glass bowl first looked like a bowl of seeds, after a few rounds of shaking by my server, this stone (cookie) came out to the surface.
3rd Course - Lychee and Roses with Gin
What sitting in the middle rose petal was not lychee, it was white raspberry. White raspberry made look like lychee, with rose petals and rose water, and gin in the spherification. Frozen lychee juice and purée were stuffed in white raspberry to make it like lychee. The presentation was stunning and the taste was so refreshing to wake up your palette.
The end product from molecular gastronomy can be deceiving. The dew on the rose petals were actually encapsulated gin.
1st Course - Panchino/Filled with Beluga Caviar
Panchino is warm, fried-to-order balls of Chinese bread that can be filled with caviar and sour cream or sea urchin. It had a delicately crispy exterior. In my plate, Beluga caviar and crème fraîche were served. At present, most of the time, Beluga caviar are from Chinese-Russian border or Koren-Russian border. They were fresh and juicy, but not as plump as what I had at Da Vittoria.
In addition, the preliminary preparation work for apple cider in the next course started by mixing apple juice with dry ice. A little while later, it became apple cider.
1st Course - Savory Walnut Candy with mango, Tonka Beans and Whisky
10-year old Talisker single malt whisky was used. Caramelized walnut candy was wrapped with obulato sheet and topped with grated Tonka bean to give it a more sophisticated taste.
2nd Course - Smoked Instant Apple Cider
Scenting a glass with burning oak chips, made for an interesting twist on a house-made apple cider. The smoky oak flavor complemented with the earthiness of the cheese.
3rd Course - Idiazabal Mille-Feuille
This was an unbelievably light savory mille-feuille pastry. A biscuit with Idiazabel cheese, smoked sheep cheese was made into fried cheese foam and then used siphon machine to make it fluffier before made into puffy pastry. Candied lemon bit was served on the side to give it a more balanced taste.
My server informed me that the Barcelona Art & Design School’s students provide well-designed utensils and art objects to the restaurant. This piece used in this course was one of their products.
4th Course - Multispherical Pesto with Eel and Tender Pistachio
Pesto sauce, cheese cream, pistachio, Parmigiana cheese dices, pine nut, Parmigiana base, pistachio butter, smoked eel, with pancetta on top. This was the good practice of multi-spherical technique, it looked like a green eel.
1st Course - Gazpacho Sandwich with Vinegar Garnish
Scented garnish was provided by 25-year old aged sherry vinegar in glass, accompanying gazpacho sandwich. Although Gazpacho sandwich looked like bread, but it was not made of flour. It was made of dehydrated tomato meringue. The filling of the sandwich was made of frozen gazpacho sorbet. It was a master piece of molecular gastronomy.
2nd Course - Black Cauliflower with Coconut and Lime Béchamel
My server informed that at present, Korean Ocoo machine can turn food black. It took Ocoo machine 17 hours of continuing cooking at 40-60 degree to turn white cauliflower into black cauliflower. It was a long caramelizing process. Black cauliflower was served with coconut and lime juice, lime bits and reduced cauliflower juice.
1st Course - Crispy Egg Yolk with Mushroom Gelatin
An organic egg yolk was deep fried with high temperature. It was still soft and running inside. Seaweed and mushroom gelatin was at the bottom. I was instructed, after the 1st bite, to mix the rest of the yolk with the mushroom gelatin that hid below in the egg shell. I would love to have it daily for breakfast.
1st Course - Liquid Popcorn
Fried corn with tempura coating and corn powder and liquid inside.
2nd Course - Corn Soufflé
A round-shaped fried corn filled with corn grain inside and salt sprinkled on top.
3rd Course - Multi Spherical Tatin of Foie Gras and Corn
It was the practice of multi-spherification with corn. Thin sheet made of obulato at the bottom, with corn (made with multi-spherification) covering foie gras.
4th Course - Ceviche Deconstruction
The outer ring is light brown color was called tiger’s milk, the middle ring in white color was made of fish sauce. First step required was the maceration of fish (hake or cod) and shell fish by lemon, lime, ginger, onion, cilantro, coriander and Aji pepper (from Peru). Then, this flavored liquid was integrated with cream, coriander oil and lime zest and became the fish sauce in the middle ring in white color. In addition, this same flavored stock was further spiced with cilantro oil, spicy Aji pepper, corn and became tiger’s milk in the outer ring. In the inner ring, it was the purée of carrots and tuna. It was all based on ceviche, but with further enhancement in processes and with more potent flavor. It was a real master piece.
5th Course - Razor Clams with Seaweed in Salt
It was cooked with Carta Fata, food grade USDA approved cooking foil. Carta Fata is heat resistant up to 428F, ideal for cooking seafood, meat and vegetables, can be used in regular or convectional oven. Razor was salt-baked, to give it pressure, at 180C for 5 minutes, and then refrigerate overnight. It was seasoned with olive oil and seaweed and seaweed ravioli. Chef used a robust, full-flavored extra virgin olive oil Arbequina which is mostly grown in Catalonia, Spain. Chef also provided 25-year-old aged sherry vinegar for its aroma.
6th Course - Crispy Seaweed Ravioli
1st Course - Our Macaroni Carbonara
To make these macaroni, firstly it involved chilled the mode in sub-zero temperature. Then, coated the molds with flavored or non-flavored gelatin before removing these gelatin pastas from the molds. These gelatin pastas can be soaked in Parmigiana cheese broth or Iberia ham stock for a while to enhance the flavor.
It was served with cheese carbonara sauce and grated Parmigiana cheese. If you are a conventional pasta lover, you will find out although the flavor was there, the texture was different. This is one of Disfrutar’s signature dishes.
1st Course - Crystal Almonds
This dish was prepared to emulate white lupine seeds. White lupine seeds contain a high amount of proteins and are used to detoxify and lower cholesterol.
I was informed that “The Almond Series” will be offered to substitute for Wild Hare which I disliked in the original menu. “The Almond Series” can be offered only for about a month time in May/June while the new almonds are available.
There were a few forms of almonds in the plate. Firstly, the crystal looking almonds were the baby almonds in original form. Secondly, light green color of almonds was made by soaking the shell of young almond, macerating the young almond in elder flower vinegar, then infused in gelatin. Thirdly, almonds peeled and slow cooked in Korean machine to tender soft condition. Fourthly, the white color pieces were almond cream. In addition, a preserved cherry and an elder flower was on the side to give almond flavor a boost. All these were served in green sauce made from skin of the young almonds. Chefs made great efforts to make this a very special seasonal dish.
2nd Course – Almendruco
A bite-size almond ice cream.
3rd Course - Tomato Seed Salad with Mango and Tender Almonds
Tomato salad served with fermented mango, mango vinaigrette, fresh mango, basil spheres, mango cream, young almond, tomato gelatin (in transparent square shape) and elder flower.
4th Course - Tomato Polvoron and Arbequina oil Caviar
Polvoron is a type of Spanish bread. This was made into a savory version, from malt and dehydrated tomato powder, with Arbequina olive oil caviar in spheres. This was another showcase of molecular gastronomy.
1st Course - Sea Cucumber “a la Gallega”
Fresh sea cucumber was from Galacia (a la Gallega) and served in seafood belacan sauce with paprika powder on top. I always love sea cucumber. According to Chinese herbal medicine theory, sea cucumbers help your body to detox and increase its immune system. I have found out that the fresh sea cucumber in white strips are available only in the Northern Spain region.
2nd Course - Langoustine in “Suquet”
Suquet is the traditional Catalan style fish stew. From the left side of plate, parsley form (green color), round shaped potato spheres, langoustine in suquet. Part of sauce was suquet (orange color), on the right-hand side of plate, saffron and aioli (garlic and olive oil) sauce was served. Langoustine was cooked half-raw and suquet was rich and flavorful.
3). Cappucino “Suquet”
With potato form on top and “suquet” seafood bisque at the bottom.
1st Course - Hare and Foie Gras Bonbon
Hare and foie gras bonbon (cookie) was served with cold dehydrated strawberry in the black plate.
1st Course - Squab with Cold and Hot Semi-dehydrated Strawberries
Squab with roasted squab sauce, served with cold dehydrated strawberry and dehydrated, cooked and glazed strawberry with shiso. Squab was rare, tasty and tender. This was the last savory dish.
1st Course – Pandan
When I saw the sponge cake looking item in the plate, I recalled the 1st time I saw it at Norma, Copenhagen a few years ago. It involved a lot of molecular gastronomy. Even though it looked like a large piece, all you needed was a table spoonful of the ingredients.
Pandan has long green shiny leaf, from Malaysia. Center item was mango sorbet which provided the chief function of palate cleanser. The sponge cake was made by coconut milk, then used siphon machine to pump a lot of air into it. At serving, coated it with cocoa butter and pandan infusion. It must be fun to make it.
2nd Course - Black Sesame Cornet
It was like a little black sesame ice cream.
3rd Course - Cherries 2017
It was a showmanship of the latest molecular gastronomy by using cocoa butter into the spherification process (by dipping sodium alginate into calcium lactate). Since cocoa contains mainly butter fat which turns hard in cold temperature and melts in warm temperature. These 2 cute red balls were filled with cherry juice and cherry mousse respectively and dipped into nitrogen at below “0” temperature before serving. Last year, I saw how it was made at Grace’s kitchen while I had dinner at this Michelin 3-star restaurant. Because its fragileness, one was cracked the moment I picked it out of the plate. I got a replacement. A few seconds after I put it into my mouth, the flavor of filling bursting into my mouth. It was a pleasant and refreshing experience.
4th Course - Tarta al Whisky
My server poured a bit of 16-year-old Lagavulin single malt whisky into my palms and I was instructed to “rub” my hands in the scent of this alcohol while enjoying the next few bites. The small bite of hazelnut encased in an amber of sweet sugar and frozen egg custard was delightful, but I can’t say the aroma of whisky enhanced the experience of this dish. Nevertheless, I love yuzu’s potent and refreshing taste.
5th Course - Coffee Swiss Roll & Chantilly Cream
It was coffee and amaretto frozen cube and Swiss roll (meringue roll) filled with apple cream. It was so light and airy, just right for a full stomach.
6th Course - Cocoa and Mint Cotton
It was mocha mint cotton candy served on an actual stalk of cotton. Cotton candy was made from sugar, water, corn syrup and salt. At present, cotton candy is also being used for making other more elaborate items. Believe or not, you can make it at home without a professional kitchen.
It was interesting to see Disfrutar’s 3 chefs played with their super-refined molecular gastronomy techniques in new application. It was a gastronomic pleasure to enjoy what they are doing is still what they said “deliciousness and harmony will always remain the kitchen’s focus”.