By Matthew Yglesias
Inconveniently, nobody who practices molecular gastronomy will use the term “molecular gastronomy” to describe their style of cooking. And yet there’s a distinctive style of cooking that people keep wanting to call “molecular gastronomy.” And it comes from Spain. Specifically, Catalonia. Naturally, on our recent trip to Barcelona, Sara and I wanted to check some out. Not being ready to make it out to El Bulli, we opted for Alkimia (among other things, it’s actually in Barcelon) where or so they say “Jordi Vilà — a chef’s chef if ever there was one — is a proponent of New Catalan cuisine, the culinary wave started by Ferran Adrià.”
In my opinion, Vilà might want to give it a rest. Unlike at Alinea where the gimmicks are integral to the deliciousness of the food, I was getting a distinct vibe of “on the one hand, deliciousness; on the other hand, gimmicks” from Alkimia. This reached its peak of egregiousness at the restaurant’s finest dish—a bit of young lamb shoulder that was mind-blowingly tender. And not just mind-blowingly tender, mind-blowing good. It was awesome. And it also had some . . . foam . . . lurking around somewhere for no reason. The foam wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, and there didn’t seem to be any real need for it. Instead, the thinking seemed to be “we’re in Catalonia so we need something New Catalan so we need to tack some foam onto our delicious lamb.”
The madness needs to stop.