Culinary genius? Best Chef in the World? A generally amazing human being? Yes. All of the above.
My husband and I were fortunate enough to meet Ferran Adria when he was in town for the exhibition on his work, Notes on Creativity, at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art here in Kansas City. However, it was thanks to a local butcher shop here in town, that we were able to see this gastronomic artist.
The Local Pig instagrammed that he was coming. A quick phone call and I found out what time he would be arriving. My husband and I quickly got ready and drove the five minutes from our piso to the neighborhood in the east bottoms, to get a seat and wait for Ferran. And it was a long wait. We arrived thirty minutes early, due to my excitement, and he didn’t arrive until close to 12:30. Every time someone’s shadow came across the front door, my heart skipped a beat. When it was finally him, I was star-struck. Of course, a wave of interpreters, journalists, photographers came in with him, as well as his wife and the director of the Nelson-Atkins. He made eye contact with me and I thought I might faint.
They gave him a tour of the small butcher shop and then led him to the front where beautiful plates of charcuterie, cheeses and bread awaited him. As I clicked away with my camera, a journalist came up to me and asked if I was a fan.
“Oh, very much so”, I replied. “My husband is also Catalan and from Barcelona, so we are big fans of his”. She then asked if we would like to meet him and approached his interpreter so she could tell him about us. Seconds later, there we were. His hand extended, as common a gesture as any, but coming from him all I thought was how that hand had created some of the finest meals on earth and there it was, in front of me! I shook his hand, then he turned to Joan. All I managed was a ‘Encantada” as he exchanged pleasantries with my husband. We were then told to stand by him and the journalists took our photograph as well and in a flash, it was over. We stepped back and then just watched him in action, as he gazed thoughtfully upon what was presented before him and relayed questions to his interpreter about the technique and where they source their product. You can find articles about his day in KC here and here where yours truly is mentioned.
It’s difficult though, to put into words, seeing someone you admire and who is admired by so many, in person. He is a ‘regular’ man like the rest of us but he is a regular man who has done extraordinary work and has changed the way people think about food.
Before we knew it, it was over. He made his way next door and the owner of the Local Pig invited us to sample the charcuterie and cheeses he had laid out for Ferran. My husband did so with gusto, but as we had plans with friends, we made our way home in a state of shock and awe.
On the way home we shook our heads and laughed at how our speech stopped functioning the moment we shook his hand and instead of welcoming him to our city and making conversation, we clammed up afraid of making fools of ourselves. I’m sure that poor man is used to it at this point but we sure aren’t.
As part of my Tapas, Tapas and more Tapas series, I have recreated and tweaked ( just a bit) Ferran Adria’s Tortilla de Patata recipe from his cookbook, ‘A Family Meal’. I have changed it ever so slightly and I will tell you in which ways so you can do what you prefer. It is a crowd pleaser and ever so delectable.
It can be served warm or cold, though I prefer to eat it as soon as it’s ready from the pan. It pairs well with a cerveza or glass of wine. It should always be enjoyed around a table with friends.
Ferran Adria’s Tortilla de Patata (Spanish Omelette)
Ingredients for a Table for Two
2 ¾ ounce potato chips
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
Table for Six:
7 ½ ounces chips
*Salt isn’t needed as the potato chips bring plenty to the dish
To start, break the eggs in a sarten, or pan and beat them until they are frothy
Add the potato chips to the egg mixture, without breaking them. Let them sit in the egg mix for about a minute.
In a 10-inch nonstick frying pan, add some olive oil, just enough to cover the pan.
Pour the mixture into the pan and stir gently, still being careful not to break the chips.
Let the egg and potato chips cook over low heat until the eggs have firmed up and you can see that you can flip it over. For my stove, that’s usually at about four minutes. Ferran prefers twenty seconds on each size, enough that it’s firm but that it’s still runny on the inside. I prefer my omelets well cooked, so if you do too, leave it a bit longer.
I look for the edges to be cooked, but that the center hasn’t set completely. When this occurs, place a plate on top of the pan and gently, flip the tortilla onto the plate. From there, gently slide the tortilla back into the pan (adding a dash more olive oil) and continue cooking on low heat for a minute or two longer.
To be well cooked, look for your omelette to have a beautiful golden color, if it’s getting too brown, it’s over done! Ferran Adria’s recipe calls for the tortilla to be cooked for twenty to thirty seconds on each side, so that it’s firm on the outside but runny on the inside.
You can serve hot, cold, or at room temperature.
I added Romesco to my tortilla, and you can find that recipe here!
This dish is great as a main course or as part of a tapas collection! So as they say in Catalan, Bon Profit!