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Tickets | Barcelona | Jun ’14

31 Jan
  • Rating: 16/20

My meal at Tickets was chaos of seemingly endless variety, as dish after dish was served when I ordered almost the full menu at Tickets. With each of the dishes at modest price points, none of the dishes were extremely-labor intensive in terms of cooking (many of the ingredients had been prepared earlier) – for the dishes had to be quickly assembled. It seemed like popularized modernist cuisine – you do not expect fireworks since the dishes come fast and furious, and really cooking-labor-intensive dishes don’t make their appearance – but the modernist tapas was robustly flavorful. As a fine-dining place, this does not really translate. A rating of 16/20 is justified for the efficient assembly of cheerful, well-composed dishes – within the constraint of cooking very fast, a similar philosophy to L’Atelier Robuchon.

Once a chef sets himself down an unknown path and creates according to his own perception, free as far as possible from predefined rules and breaking through the limitations of stereotypical tastes, however sincere such a chef might consider himself to be, there is always a risk that the result may be extremely personal and subjective, with each individual dish somewhat incomplete, a piece of the larger puzzle of his menu, with less emphasis on the “realism” of ingredients, employing rather a dualistic punning forms (infusions, textures, concentrated tastes detached from their hosts’ bodies, etc.). That is to say that conventional criteria may not be applicable to the “abstractionism” of Adria, whose work seems to be more concerned with how it is carried out as a whole meal than what it is about as an individual dish, contrary to Pacaud, whose classicism still so much revolves around individual ingredients and the aspect of taste in individual dishes. It seems that these two cuisines serve different purposes the same way as comparing Picasso to Velazquez will not yield a meaningful verdict.

What concerns me, however, after reading vmilor’s thoughts, is whether Adria manages to establish some degree of formalism in his cuisine, which is essential for codifying a new trend in any artistic movement (e.g. realistic flesh and blood in the works of Titian or Rubens; the degree of formalism was high in Egyptian paintings with the same superimposition of full and profile views echoed in the duality of Braque and Picasso later in time, or in the conversion of intangible light into solid paint in Impressionism, etc.). The same academic, formal, synthetic and even abstract (deconstructionism) approaches apply to haute cuisine as well. The question is whether Adria puts in enough effort to formalize his cuisine, therefore creating a definitive style perhaps not out of individual dishes, as he did earlier in his career with hot and cold pea soup, tagliatelle a la carbonara etc., but perhaps with entire meals (which seems more characteristic of his current strategy), or flees a subject matter before exploring its potential, creating a brand-new sand-castle every year, washed out with each tide, which, may still be advantageous from the technical perspective for other chefs, but irrelevant for the ultimate judges: his diners. In that case, the next question would be whether Adria’s future lies in the laboratory, not in the dining room. Otherwise, he may be creating a new form in which the entity is not a dish or even a meal, but a sequence of meals.

Thus, as vmilor said, I won’t be able to answer these questions with only one meal, and following this chef’s progression may not be practical, but I’ll keep an open mind. – lxt

I won’t resist one el Bulli comparison: A meal at Tickets preserves a similar spirit in that the entire meal was an unstructured, sprawling octopus of flavor combinations – several good, some excellent. None of the dishes felt really complete, instead it seemed each dish was showcasing an effect (the hollow airbaguette) or a particularly harmonious combination (asparagus with almond milk). And so there were no true masterpieces in the meal – part of it is down to the lack of really labor intensive cooking, but part of it is also down to the style of a meal – Tickets, as it seems with el Bulli, prefers to dazzle with a long series of one-effect dishes as opposed to a few really composed ones.

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  • Cacahuete mimético [false peanuts] (4/5)

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  • La pizza de Tickets [Ticket’s pizza] (4/5)

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  • Cóctel sólido de sandia impregnado en sangria [Solid cocktail with watermelon infused in sangria]
    • Watermelon infused with sangria, similar to how 41 degrees infused theirs with beetroot
    • Bitter liqueur taste – reminiscent of oyster

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  • Tempura de pistachios [tempura pistachios]

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  • Oil texture, anchovies, potato obulato (4.25/5)

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  • Liquid olive + other aromatic herb (4.5/5)
    • More full-bodied, meatier

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  • Rubia gallega airbaguette (5/5)
    • Umami itself, savory and glistening fat. Full-bodied.

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  • Queso manxego; espumosos dentro de mini airbags con caviar de aceite de avellana (4.25/5)

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  • Iberico Joselito airbaguette (4.75/5)
    • More marbling than Iberico bellota
    • It had a darker salty sweet taste than Rubia gallega

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  • White asparagus, cold almond milk, pumpkin seed oil caviar (4.75/5)
    • Surprisingly good. Smooth almond milk worked with white asparagus – sweetness synergistic. Pumpkin seed sweetness harmonized with almond milk

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  • Macaroni made from basil water [no flour]; parmesan reggiano sauce, pinenuts (4.75/5)

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  • Nori cone, tuna, grannysmith apple cubes, flying fish roe, shichimi togarashi  (4/5)
    • Reminiscent of salmon cornets at The French Laundry/Per Se

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  • Razor clam, tomato + red bean sauce, anchovies + basil (4/5)

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  • (1)Oyster + red wine vinegar + tarragon + olive oil “caviar”; (2) Mojito oyster
    • Oyster + Mojito: Fizzing and cold (4.75/5)
    • Other was cold and delicious (4.75/5)

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  • Octopus + kimchi (4/5)
    • Kimchi had the soft texture of canned pineapple
    • Complimentary

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  • Baby squid with its ink + picada (Catalan sauce: almond, garlic, parsley, saffron)

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  • Black rice; with calamari and beansprouts as the rice (3.75/5)
    • Creamy

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  • Coffee powder on prawn, sauce of (black tea, soy sauce) (4/5)
    • Around here, Albert Adria made his daily rounds and I caught a glimpse of him

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  • “King oyster mushrooms” spaghetti with porcini pil pil sauce (3.75/5)
    • Parmesan

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  • “el manteca” jowl, sandwich bread (4.25/5)
    • Pork chin, mozzarella, munster

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  • Pork ribs in Canary islands typical sauce (4/5)

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  • Green beans with potatoes and fermented red bean sauce

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  • Tickets’ cone, lime ice cream, lemon cream and meringue (4.5/5)

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  • Juniper strawberry with juniper cream (3.75/5)

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  • Sweet maki, lime marshmallow, mango and nori gelatin (4.25/5)

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