The Bazaar by Jose Andres
Molecular gastronomy has finally come to Los Angeles! Best of all, it is served on the same menu with traditional Spanish cuisine. This is, well.. food heaven by my standards. The meal I had at The Bazaar by Jose Andres was tres exciting. Before this meal I'd had more exposure to molecular gastronomy theoretically then actually tasting it, so this was a big event and I was not disappointed.
There are 2 sides to the menu, Rojo and Blanca. Rojo contains traditional Spanish cuisine, Blanca non-traditional. Each dish is served tapas style, in smaller portions, the perfect size for 2 people dining together. Knowing that that the avante-garde cuisine would be more satisfying as a dining adventure when I was not experiencing hunger pangs, I ordered some traditional Spanish tapas to start with, so that I would not be hungry when we tasted the Blanca dishes.
The Jamón Ibérico de bellota and Croquetas are on the Rojo side of the menu. The hand-sliced, acorn-fed, free-range Ibérico ham was divine. A friend from Barcelona told me that the ham that Jose Andres imports is not available anywhere else in the US. It's good!
The jamon was served with a brown bread with tomato spread, a Catalan dish served in almost every restaurant in Barcelona. Brown bread is rubbed with garlic then topped with olive oil and tomato pulp. When I was in Barcelona last summer I remember it being a bit different, same components just less oil and tomato on the bread. This was still very good. The Croquetas de Pollo were excellent: perfectly crisp outside and creamy inside. I could fill up on just croquetas alone. Luckily I did not. The rest of the meal was my most exciting meal all year. Really.
We started with Olives Ferran Adria, FA being his teacher, the molecular gastronomy guru in Barcelona. It looks like an egg yolk, only green as an olive. The inside was filled with an olive tasting liquid. They were served on porcelain spoons. The instructions we were given: slide it onto your tongue then press your tongue to the roof of your mouth. As I did so the salty liquid exploded in my mouth. It was an unusual almost pornographic sensation. One of those things you want to try at least once for the experience more than the taste.
The server was talkative and informative. She was clearly excited about the food at The Bazaar and wanted to educate her customers about it. She also informed us how the menu is being tweaked to get it just right. So some dishes are a little different, hopefully better than a few weeks ago. We also were lucky enough to get a quick visit from Jose Andres, a friendly and outgoing personality.
Watermelon Tomato Skewers sounds much simpler than it tastes. Five bite-sized portions were served with a Pedro Ximenez reduction and what they call sexy tomato seeds, the tomato seed sack. Micro greens and petals garnished the top. It was a fresh, sweet, tarty taste that burst in my mouth. This seems like a pretty easy recipe to replicate at home. Email me for my version of the recipe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The plate of Japanese Baby Peaches looked like a piece of art. The peaches were cut into small rectangles and served on a plate of yogurt. Four little persimmons were placed next to each peach-tangle. Little puddles of olive oil and vinegar were placed between each peach. The taste was sensual. I know it sounds odd, but it was. I got goosebumps on my arms as I ate a persimmon.
The meal just kept on getting better. The scallops were cold, frozen, almost like a dessert but from nitrogen, not a freezer. The combo of the scallops with mango-lime sauce a little bit of salt and sweet pepper was quite refreshing.
The piece de resistance was the Tortilla de Patatas 'new way', Andres' version of a traditional Spanish classic. The server highly recommended it and I must admit that I was weary of ordering it. It just sounded, well, weird. I was hesitant about the egg part of it. How was it cooked? I'm quite picky about how eggs are prepared. Nonetheless we ordered it and it was surprisingly fun and delicious, out-of-the-ordinary and completely unexpected.
It is a warm potato foam with a slow cooked egg and caramelized onions served in a margarita glass. I took my spoon, dug some foam from the glass then thrust it in my mouth. The foam filled my whole mouth. It was similar in texture to the foam you get on a cappuccino yet it tasted like a tortilla de patatas (potato omelet). My next spoon full contained a little of the caramelized onion from the bottom, delicious with the foam. What a fun dish!
We also had 2 dishes that were fine, yet not my taste:
Sauteed Cauliflower 'Couscous'- Cauliflower shaped and served as couscous. It was a heartier dish with harissa.
Sliced Apples and Fennel Salad- Pasta like sliced apples served with shaved fennel and Manchego cheese. I could have passed on that one, compared to the other delights I ate.
Dessert was served in the Marie Antoinette-esque dessert bar. We literally moved from one room to another. The bar looked like it was part of a movie set. Bite-size morsels were displayed in glass plates with glass covers. The dessert server gave us a tour of the bar and described each treat individually, a time consuming process yet entertaining, OK when only a few people are dining. I wonder what they will do when the place becomes packed. I loved the mint leaf dipped in chocolate. Another reminder of Barcelona. (Note: mint photo above was taken in Barcelona.)
All in all dining at The Bazaar by Jose Andres was such a fun treat. I will definitely be returning to the restaurant soon.
The Bazaar by Jose Andres at SLS Hotel
465 S La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
310. 246. 5555