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One of Renee Baumann’s Gingerbread Brownstones

Renee Baumann has gone to both architecture school and culinary school. For most of us, that would sound like two fields that would never actually collide, but Baumann has, interestingly enough, found a way to combine both of her passions: gingerbread brownstones! After gaining a lot of publicity for creating a Brooklyn brownstone out of gingerbread last year, the Brooklyn resident is repeating her culinary architectural experiments again this year–only this time, the stakes are higher. This year, rather than creating just a single home, Baumann is recreating an entire Brooklyn block with gingerbread–a lot of gingerbread.

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Welcome to the creative universe of Ferran Adrià­     (photo courtesy of Palau Robert, Barcelona).

The “Ferran Adrià­ and elBulli. Risk, Freedom and Creativity”  exhibition unveils the creative universe and talent of Ferran Adrià­ , the late 20th and early 21st centuries’ most influential chef, as well as the comprehensive capacity to innovate that he has applied to gastronomy with his work at elBulli restaurant. The exhibition is open to the public from February 2, 2012 to February 3, 2013 in room 3 at the Palau Robert in Barcelona.

Ferran Adrià­   (on the right) visiting the exhibition, seated at the projection table (photo courtesy of Palau Robert, Barcelona).

Over the years, Ferran Adrià­   has become a global icon of gastronomy. The work done at elBulli – considered the world’s best restaurant for five years running – has received global recognition and has set the direction for the future of cooking and how we think about food and dining. The names of Ferran Adrià­, Juli Soler, Albert Adrià­and of elBulli’s entire creative team are associated with values such as reflection, talent, innovation, leadership, teamwork, a job well done, internationalization and solidarity. Going far beyond the field of gastronomy, their work embraces areas such as art and technology.

The room “Origins (The Learning Years)” recounts the history of elBulli from its origins in 1956 to March 1987, the time when Ferran Adrià­ took charge of elBulli as its chef (photo courtesy of Palau Robert, Barcelona).

The exhibition comes after elBulli closed its doors in July 2011 and celebrates the restaurant’s 50 years of history (from 1961 on), coinciding with a time when Catalan gastronomy has become one of the top-ranking gastronomies in the global arena. Incidentally, Adrià­ turns 50 in 2012.

Although the decision to close the world-famous 3 Michelin star restaurant was taken in order that it could undergo its transformation  (Adrià­ stated elBulli had completed its journey as a restaurant) into elBulli foundation, a center for gastronomic experimentation and innovation that plans to disseminate its creations on the Internet from 2014 on, critics like to point out the restaurant had been operating at a loss in its later years. Once you enter Adrià­’s creative universe at the exhibition, however, it quickly becomes clear that here is a genius who cannot simply go on cooking – he needs to innovate and transcend regular restaurant work.

The evolutionary map illustrates the products, techniques, elaborations and philosophy with videoclips, and visitors can see emblematic dishes elaborated, all of which have been major milestones in Ferran Adrià­’s career and elBulli’s history (photo courtesy of Palau Robert, Barcelona).

The exhibition recounts the history of elBulli, from its origins in 1956 with the arrival of Dr Schilling and his wife Marketta at Cala Montjoi (between Roses and Cadaques), to March 1987, the time when Ferran Adrià­ took sole charge of elBulli as its chef. Audiovisuals, documents, photos and objects in chronological order highlight the qualitative jump made by the restaurant through an increasingly sophisticated gastronomic offering that had clear references to French nouvelle cuisine. In addition to Ferran Adrià­, the key figures in this transformation were Jean-Louis Neichel,  Juli Soler and Albert Adrià .

“The Search For A Style” room with a restaurant table where an elBulli 40-dish menu is projected (photo courtesy of Palau Robert, Barcelona).

One of the highlights is the “The Search For A Style” room where visitors can see a recreation of the atmosphere of the restaurant’s dining room through an audiovisual with props (table and chairs from elBulli): images of an elBulli 40-dish tasting menu are projected onto the table from overhead, allowing visitors to at least visually witness the dining experience. And in general there is great emphasis on how elBulli’s innovative contribution to avant-garde cuisine is the sixth sense: sparking a response in diners, which is expressed in the form of gestures and emotions of surprise, questioning, recollection, desire and happiness. Ferran Adrià­  creates neither dishes nor recipes, but rather concepts and techniques that he can subsequently apply to countless elaborations, as is explained in the section “Moment 0″ of the exhibition.

One of the more quirky exhibits: a signed Matt Groening caricature of Adrià­ (with a scribbled Bart Simpson looking over his shoulder).

His technical-conceptual approach to cooking and creating requires a whole team devoted exclusively to creation in an ideal space, and to immense subsequent cataloging; among the exhibits are drawings of dishes done by Ferran Adrià­; a display of metal tableware elements used for serving, custom-made silicone molds, objects and utensils used in the cooking process, an array of plasticine dishes used to demonstrate the ideal food layout on a plate, and of course countless cookbooks and notebooks.

“The Time of Major Change” – A recreation of elBulli’s kitchen through projections in triptych form (photo courtesy of Palau Robert, Barcelona).

Plasticine ingredients used to demonstrate the ideal layout of a dish (photo courtesy of Palau Robert, Barcelona).

The exhibition will be presented in New York in 2013 and will then travel to London. It will also become the seed or basis for the future Centre-Museum devoted to Ferran Adrià­ and elBulli in Roses. The aim of these and other initiatives that may subsequently arise is to project the image of Catalonia to the world –showing it as a modern, innovative country – and to position it as a leader and point of reference on the global stage of gastronomy thanks to the enormous amount of research that was carried out at elBullirestaurant and will continue to be carried out at elBullifoundation. The exhibition also deems that Catalonia should officially ask UNESCO to designate Catalan gastronomy as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as it did with the castellers (people erecting Human Towers).

The beginning: a bronze statue of the “Bulli” bulldog that gave the restaurant its name.

While it is possible to venture out to Cala Montjoi and the site where elBulli the restaurant is being transformed into elBulli the foundation, you’ll have to head to Barcelona to experience the food: the Adrià­ brothers run both the tapas bar Tickets on Avinguda Paral ·lel 164 and an avant-garde place next door called 41 ° (41 Grados). Just like at elBulli, getting in is difficult: 41 Grados only takes reservations online and only for an even number of diners, thus keeping out solo critics. They serve “one experience” of 41 mini-courses to a total of 16 people per night. But there is more: Ferran and Albert Adrià­ are setting up a Mexican restaurant (their first of a different cuisine) and plan on opening a Japanese-influenced Nikkei place, both also in Barcelona. Who knows what’s next? It will remain interesting to watch the Adrià­s.

Ferran Adrià­   and elBulli. Risk, Freedom and Creativity exhibition
The Palau Robert Catalan Information Centre
Passeig de Grà­cia, 107 08008 Barcelona [MAP]
(+34) 93 238 80 91 / 92 / 93
Open Monday to Saturday 10am to 8pm. Sunday 10am to 2.30pm. Admission free.

Thanks to the Palau Robert for the pictures and press material.
Get in touch with the author @flachrattenmann.

Having already covered many of the wild, culinary adventures put forth by Underground Eats  in New York City, like Absurdity at the McKittrick Hotel and the Breslin Butcher’s Ball, we thought it was high time we showed you the team behind the company. When you meet Harris Damashek and Adam Sirois, you can tell immediately they just love what they do. In many ways, they combine the best of New York–an intrinsic knowledge of great culinary tradition, a desire to push the boundaries of it, and an ability to navigate the delicate boundary between exclusive and pretentious (of which they are never the latter).

At Pork & Pinot with Chef Dave Martin (Top Chef) last week, we hung out with Harris, Adam and their other partners, Julia and Mikaela, at the so-called “Kids Table.” The pinot flowed and we discovered that Adam used to run a design-your-own cereal startup called Me & Goji, which enables him to now claim that he’s a “cereal entrepreneur turned serial entrepreneur.” Harris founded the first  virtualized interactive agency which specialized in design and development for luxury and premium brands, such as Bombay Sapphire, Accenture and Bacardi. The union of food and technology brought them together.

More than just covering Underground Eats  events, Untapped Cities is proud to call them one of our partners, and in a recent brainstorming meeting, it’s clear how deep their creativity runs. With nearly 100 events since February, constant reinvention is key to their business. And of course, they capitalized on a fundamental need in the New York culinary scene. Says Adam,

We began realizing that while boundary-pushing food events were going on all-around us, from pop-up restaurants, to supper clubs, to amazing culinary classes, there was no central location that aggregated them all. Staying-up on what was going down required subscribing to dozens of newsletters, following hundreds of websites and navigating irrelevant spa discounts and lousy open-bar deals. Underground Eats solves this problem and offers a central platform for culinary-minded people where our members can browse and buy tickets to the best and most exclusive alternative dining experiences.

For chefs and restaurants, they can now host professionally marketed events without sacrificing the time and money that should be spent on the most important product: the food.

At Pork & Pinot, each of the four courses prepared by Dave Martin was paired with Row Eleven pinots. The first course was a salad of organic  organic barley,  Nueske’s  applewood smoked bacon and roasted mushrooms combining flavors we didn’t know could coexist so perfectly. Next came the  hoisin and cider-marinated heritage pork tenderloin with peach and plum salsa and summer squash ratatouille, followed by  Saranac root beer-braised heritage pork with heirloom tomato, watermelon and blueberry salad (somewhere in there was also smoked chipotle butter) which may have been one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Dessert was a  crème  fraîche  panna cotta with bacon and dried cherry shortbread cookies.

Dave Martin, in the kitchen

A DJ spun in the corner of the lounge, chef Dave Martin made jokes, putting the diners quickly at ease, and the bartenders secretly offered us tequila in honor of Tequila Day. We were curious though, what were Harris and Adam’s favorite dishes right now, especially that they’ve been able to sample nearly everything New York City has to offer through Underground Eats? For Adam, it’s the  grilled shrimp and chorizo at Seamus Mullen’s new pop-up at The Standard Plaza (they were there again last night) and for Harris, the Kung Pao Pastramai at Mission Chinese. He says, “I can almost feel my face again…time to go back!”

That’s enough of a recommendation to make it our next Sunday in Chinatown exploration.

To join the next Underground Eats culinary adventure, join here. Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.

[UPDATE: This year's Dîner en Blanc will take place on August 20th and registration will begin in phases starting August 9th at noon] This is a public service announcement to New Yorkers who are already fretting about registration for this year’s Dîner en Blanc New York City. Registration is not open yet nor is the date and time confirmed. But expect it the event take place near the end of August or beginning of September. As always, the location will be in public space and kept secret. I’m hoping it will be more architectural than last year’s World Financial Center location.

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Old World Charm in Pondicherry

Pondicherry might sound like an exotic dessert, but it’s actually one of my favorite destinations in India. Situated along the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, it is known for its palm-fringed beaches, mosques, its French influence and the world famous Aurobindo Ashram.

Pondicherry is a Union Territory of India formed out of four districts of former French India and named for the largest of them, Pondicherry. The name means “New Village”  in Tamil, probably in reference to its discovery by the French. It is also known as “The French Riviera of the East” (La Cà­ ´te d’Azur de l’Est).  For an Indian city, Pondi is small–around one million people live there–making it still a manageable place to explore.

Pondicherry Olivia Cummings

Pondicherry was designed based on a grid pattern and features organised quartiers and perpendicular streets. It is easy to navigate, and the orderly street signs make getting around by foot very practical. Pondicherry is divided into two sections: the French Quarter  and the Indian quarter. Compared to other Indian cities, being in Pondicherry is like seeing India through a French lens, glammed up, hard core boho chic, but yet it is also still intrinsically Indian. In the French-ness of it, Pondi doesn’t lose its Indian-ness, rather it is an enlarged, synergistic version.

Pondicherry Olivia Cummings

Pondicherry Olivia Cummings

We ate at the Hà­ ´tel de l’Orient,the former 18th Century Education Department that was reopened as the 16-room boutique hotel. The staff is French-spoken; the menu in French, the maître d’hà­ ´tel a French matron who kept a quiet eye on the French-speaking Indian men waiting the tables. There was Sapphire gin on the menu, and Indian wine. The antiques that decorated the Hà­ ´tel were dazzling, and as we sipped on our Indian red, a live jazz band in the courtyard serenaded us into the warm Indian night. It was a gorgeous hybrid of cultures, the best of all worlds.

Pondicherry Olivia Cummings

Reflecting on the standout features of this jewel of the South, it’s impossible to bypass the fact that it is incredibly visual. The 3-4 story bungalow-style concrete houses, where the families live, are painted in every colour you can imagine, the kind you can see in many parts of India.  However, just next to the Bay of Bengal there is a drastic change in the urban landscape. Tiled rooftops, wooden shutters, balconies (like in the the south of France), colonnades, comfortably wide streets and pretty pastel Catholic churches. This is the old French influence, la Ville Blanche, where the colonists once lived.

Pondicherry Olivia Cummings

Pondicherry Olivia Cummings

You can cruise down the pretty French quarter on a bike and marvel at the quiet, shady streets where the flowers drape over thick stone walls that surround the stunning mansions of the past colonists. The atmosphere is unique, an oasis in the midst of this wild and vast country.

Pondicherry Olivia Cummings

Apart from playing the flâneur and perusing the streets, in Pondi, you may also feel the urge to spend money. Don’t get me wrong, I felt a spiritual awakening, but at the same time – a karmic balancing of sorts one could say – I also felt an extreme urge to consume. Pondicherry is kind of like the ‘shabby chic’ or ‘boho cool’ centre of India.  There are a plethora of hidden antiques shops that sell furniture and statues of Indian deities, many along Mahatma Ghandi Road and Nehru Street, contrasted with the sensory exuberance of the Grand Bazaar.

Pondicherry Olivia Cummings

Pondicherry Olivia Cummings

Pondicherry Olivia Cummings

Pondicherry Olivia Cummings

Pondicherry is too great to be just a faà§ade, and too beautiful to be artificial. Pondicherry was my first love affair with a city in India and I cannot wait to be back there again.

Pondicherry Olivia Cummings

Pondicherry Olivia Cummings

Pondicherry Olivia Cummings

Pondicherry Olivia Cummings

Get in touch with the author @OliviaCummings8.

Temperatures are hot and summer is in full swing which can only mean one thing: peak growing season is upon us. Last month marked the second year of operation for  Local Roots NYC, the Brooklyn-based Community Shared Agriculture (C.S.A) where you can pick and choose whole or half-shares of regional vegetables, fruit, eggs, bread, cheese, juice, milk and meat.

This year, they’ve introduced an Artisanal Brooklyn Share, showcasing some of Brooklyn’s finest food crafters and purveyors. Among the offerings are Brooklyn Soda Works sodas & syrups, Ovenly’s sweet and savory snacks, Mike’s Hot Honey, Rick’s Picks pickles and preserves, Liddabit Sweets confections, Kombucha Brooklyn assorted brews and SlantShack’s grass-fed jerky. In addition to fresh, seasonal fare, you can now fill your pantry with items that carry the same high-quality standards you come to expect with a C.S.A.  These companies set out to create food with simple ingredients, alternative recipes and true craftsmanship. What started out as a small dream for most, turned into entrepreneurial endeavors with overwhelmingly positive results.

In addition to being hand-made within the borough, the majority of vendors utilize locally grown products. This passion to craft one’s own food is becoming quite popular now, especially in Brooklyn as can be seen at the Brooklyn Flea, DeKalb Market and Smorgasburg. In the spirit of making your own goods, Local Roots NYC, Krrb, and BK Swappers will be hosting a Food and Kitchen Swap. Bring homemade, edible treats and non-edible kitchen items to trade with your food-obsessed neighbors. It’s also a potluck so bring something to share””prizes to be awarded for best swap item and for best potluck dish.

Through Untapped, we’re giving away 2 tickets to the event. To win, follow  us  on Twitterl, tweet to us and @localrootsnyc what you’ll give away at the event

or

Like  us on Facebook and write on our wall what you’ll give away.

Otherwise, tickets are just $5 which includes complimentary beverages. Who knows, you may just swap with the next “big thing.” Sign up for the fall CSA season beginning in August.

Food and Kitchen Swap will be held on Thursday, July 26th from 6 — 9pm.