Ferran Adria’s Bread and Chocolate and a GIVEAWAY!

December 11, 2011

In the food community, the name Ferran Adria often brings with it an air of majesty.  For those that don’t know, he is the head chef at the restaurant El Bulli in Spain–a restaurant which has won the award for best restaurant in the world time and time again.  Sadly, I never got to dine there, however, his techniques are ones that are used around the world, and ones that I have experienced many times.  Ever had a foam at a restaurant?  He started that.  Ever had a meal made up of a series of small-bites courses rather than the traditional appetizer, salad/soup, entree, dessert?  He made that idea famous.  Ever eaten the garnish on your plate because it was actually a thoughtful complement to the dish and not just something to make it pretty?  Yup, that’s Ferran too.  So, when I was given the opportunity by Gotham Books at Penguin to review and do a giveaway of the book Ferran by Colman Andrews I naturally leapt at the opportunity!

The book is fascinating.  It was written by Colman Andrews, a prominent food writer who had the privelege of dining at El Bulli a few times as well as spending some time with Ferran as he worked.  Despite the title, the book is not just about Ferran Adria.  It chronicles the history of his restaurant, El Bulli, which had originally started as a small beach shack where beach-goers could rinse off the sand with a hose and grab a bite to eat and something cold to drink.  The book also talks about Ferran’s early life and provides a fascinating account of how he ended up in the restaurant business in the first place.  I won’t reveal the whole story but will say that it has something to do with soccer…and girls.

The book also talks about Ferran’s creative process and his approach to creating food–something that I found to be quite fascinating.  I’ve often wondered how chefs create food and flavor combinations, some that I could never conceive of combining, and this book describes some of Ferran’s thought process when it comes to that journey.  One excellent chapter describes every dish of a 30 something course meal that Mr. Andrews ate at El Bulli.  The flavors he combines such as coconut and caviar are on one hand perplexing and on the other entirely inspirational.

In this book, you’ll get a glimpse into how Ferran approaches food both at home and at his work.  You’ll understand his creative process, and you’ll learn why he’s as important as people say he is.  In the words of the author, “He asks us–permits us–to look at what we eat and, by extension, at the physical world in general, in a new way, without preconceptions.”  From this book you’ll learn why Ferran hates the term “molecular gastronomy” and why he believes his food is the purest expression of flavor, even with the alteration of structure.  You’ll learn the critiques others have leveled against him and how he’s refuted them.  Most importantly, you’ll learn the future of El Bulli and Ferran’s hopes for the upcoming years.

While I did greatly enjoy reading this book, I did have issue with a few minor things.  When Mr. Andrews is describing Ferran, he sometimes is too effusive with his praise to the point of detracting from the biography.  Luckily, only a small percentage of the book is written in this manner.  Additionally, at times Mr. Andrews jumps around in his narrative.  This can be frustrating as it feels as though you are reading a series of short anecdotes about Ferran rather than a continuous narrative.  Overall, I thought the book was a worth read, and would recommend to other food lovers if only to spur their creativity and learn how the greatest chef in the world got from being a military cook to the position he is at today.

If you’d like to read this book for yourself, and read it for free, I have one copy to giveaway!  Just follow the simple steps below:

1. Leave me a comment below on your favorite off-beat flavor combinations, or on a meal that may have been influenced by Ferran’s style of cooking.
2.  Leave a comment before December 20th.
3.  I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner!

UPDATE:  Giveaway closed!  The winner is…

Lakshmi!!!!  I’ll be in touch!

To give you a little taste for Ferran’s cooking I decided to share a recipe of his–one that was cited in the book.  The author writes “as an example of Ferran’s imagination, he had created a daring presentation of bread with chocolate, olive oil, and sea salt; pa am tomaquet {a traditional catalan dish of crusty bread rubbed with garlic and tomato and topped with sea salt and olive oil} with a piece of chocolate.”  While the combination of chocolate, olive oil, and salt may sound strange, let me assure you it was delicious.  When the Lion took his first bite, the only thing he could say was, “Wow!”


Ferran Adria's Bread and Chocolate

From at

Prep: Cook: Yield: 2 servingsTotal:

A surprisingly tasty combination of bread, melted dark chocolate, olive oil and sea salt.

You'll Need...

  • 2 slices country-style white bread
  • 4 squares of dark chocolate (60-75%)
  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, finest quality
  • sea salt to taste


  1. Turn on the broiler to low.  Place the bread on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler for 2 minutes. Top each slice with a chocolate square.  Return to the broiler for 1 minute.  Remove when chocolate is melted.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and serve.  Enjoy!

Additional Notes

Adapted from Ferran Adria

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  • Reply Anonymous December 11, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Dear Hathi – My wife is (re)gifting away my 'The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria' since she didn't plan her Christmas shopping properly. I think you would agree that your favorite 2 and 6 year nephews should not be deprived of Ferran from their lives. Please bring the book with you to London when you come with the Lion next.

  • Reply Lakshmi December 11, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    When we were little Mom made the Lion and me omelets with strawberry jam and they were DELICIOUS.
    Also! Chevre, honey, salted cashews, and lingonberry on water crackers. Oh let's go to Black Dog!
    Can you tell I'm hungry?

  • Reply Kshama December 12, 2011 at 3:26 am

    I just finished the entire Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate Infused with spicy red chili. Guess I am going to like Ferran Adria's cooking ideas?

  • Reply Amber December 12, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    I would have to say my favorite offbeat combination is also dark chocolate and chili! Or dark chocolate and sea salt.

  • Reply Lindsey December 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I once made an incredible wheat berry salad with Midnight Moon, peaches, pistachios, and a balsamic vinaigrette that knocked my socks off. I wish peaches were always in season – I would it that salad every day!

  • Reply Cheryl December 19, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    One of my very favorite flavor combinations is Vanilla Bean with Shallots, and other seafood. The vanilla just enhances the flavor just enough that neither is overpowering. I don't believe I could make a seafood dish without it now.

  • Reply tanvilu@gmail.com December 27, 2011 at 12:39 am

    @Everyone: thanks for participating and thanks for your neat flavor combos. I definitely have some awesome inspiration now!

  • Reply Lakshmi January 14, 2012 at 2:31 am

    I am happy to report that while in the throes of a nasty flu, bored out of my skull by the drivel on television and having exhausted my stack of must-read-agains, I received my copy of FERRAN: The Inside Story of EL BULLI and the Man Who Reinvented Food. Now, I'm only lacking having it autographed by my favorite food blogger! Love, Panda

    Thanks to Penguin Group (Lion will appreciate)

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