Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Talking Tasting Menu Film Over Dinner at The Bazaar

Food has really penetrated reality TV, and it's making its way into films! After Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Magnolia Pictures is now releasing Tasting Menu, a Spanish film surrounding the last dinner at one of the world's best restaurant in Costa Brava. Sounds El Bulli-like? I had the privilege to dine with the director Roger Gual last week, and I asked him point blank if he was inspired by El Bulli's closing. Surprisingly, he was already working on the script when El Bulli's closing was announced! Funny how life works sometimes. The film will be in theatres this Friday, April 18.

What other dinner in Los Angeles would be more perfect to celebrate this film than a tasting menu at LA's most celebrated Spanish restaurant, The Bazaar? Roger had dined at El Bulli (research for his film. I was my research was as tasty) and immediately recognized Ferran Adria's olive spheres.

The main characters in the film are estranged husband and wife, Marc and Raquel, who happened to have reservation for the last dinner service at Chakula, the fictional best-restaurant-in-the-world. Neither of them is willing to give up the reservation (neither would I!), so they met again at the restaurant after a year of separation. There's comedic relief from the two potential Japanese investors who will make competing bids for the chef to open a restaurant in Japan, a countess and old friend of the restaurant who is attending dinner with her late husband's ashes, and other characters.
Raquel is played by Claudia Bassols, who also attended the dinner.
Claudia Bassols
Some of you food lovers might recognize her from Spain On The Road Again with Mario Batali, Mark Bittman, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Roger Gual
Director Roger Gual
Not just El Bulli, Roger also dined at what is now the world's #1 restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca. In fact, he likes Can Roca better (psst) and he enlisted Can Roca's chefs to consult on the food in his film.

We may not have been at Can Roca, but our meal at The Bazaar was very indulgent, as well, with caviar cones to start ...
... to Jose's Tacos. Tacos according to Jose Andres is a jamon iberico shell filled with caviar.
Jose's Taco
Claudia Bassols is a food lover, if you can't already tell. I asked if she actually got to eat the food in the film, and she said she did for one scene. In fact, they asked her and the actor playing her husband to select the menu they wanted for that scene. She immediately pointed to the lobster. She said it's like a dream to eat as much lobster as she could and with all the scene retakes she got to eat 5 or 6 lobsters! I love her already.
Caprese with liquid mozzarella spheres
With all the caviar around, Claudia was actually most excited by something very traditional and simple: manchego and tomato on Catalan-style toasted bread!
Manchego Bread
The delightfully crispy bread probably tasted like home to her.

Another favorite were the Croquetas de Pollo, though here the croquetas are filled with chicken and bechamel.

Roger, on the other hand, was looking forward to the Tortilla New Way.
Spanish Tortilla isn't like the tortilla we're used to it, it's actually sort of a potato omelet. I loved this too - Jose Andres has reimagined the flavors of traditional Spanish tortillas in this jar of potato foam, an egg slow poached to exactly 63 degrees, and sprinkled with caramelized onions and green onions.

Roger also talked about the time he made paella for the whole crew. Not only did he have to make paella for 50 people, those 50 included the consulting chefs from Can Roca. Talk about pressure!
If you've never tried it, getting the LN2 (liquid nitrogen) Caipirinha is a must, so you can get the table-side spectacle that is the liquid nitrogen cart! 
LN2 cart
LN2 Caipirinha
Liquid Nitrogen Caipirinha.
I loved the Philly Cheesesteak: Air bread is filled with aged cheddar sauce, then topped with thin slices of Wagyu beef.
See the cheese inside? So. Good.
We had many more dishes, but to talk about every one would be a very long post, so I will just leave you with the highlights above. I haven't been to The Bazaar in a while, and so glad I had the opportunity to taste all the classic hits along with some new dishes!

This dinner was hosted by Magnolia Pictures, and remember - Tasting Menu opens in theatres this Friday, April 18!


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