Shizo caramel

Techno-Emotional Cuisine: A Sensory Indulgent Experience at the Benazuza Restaurant

By on April 6, 2015

After several press conferences at the Wine and Food Festival, my stomach started to grumble something fierce. Patience I told myself, patience. Don’t get me wrong, there was an array of delicious finger foods for those attending the conferences but I wanted and craved more…it was after all, a Wine and Food festival! Alas, the food gods heard my pleas and spoiled me as I was about to embark on a culinary journey of enjoying Techno-emotional cuisine (term preferred by Chef Ferran Adria, King of molecular gastronomy). And there was only one place that could deliver such a quest…at the famed Benazuza Restaurant located at the beautiful Oasis Sens Hotel. Having worked under the guidance of Ferran Adria, Chef Rafael Zafra has brought with him skills that have earned him several prestigious awards, including 2 Michelin Stars when he worked at the Benazuza Hacienda in Seville, Spain.

Benazuza Restaurant

Benazuza Restaurant

Talk about being a kid in a candy store, I couldn’t wait! Aren’t gifts even better when they are least expected?! Now for total disclosure: truth is, in the past as much as I have been intrigued by the concepts that is so intricately involved in molecular gastronomy, I must confess it was never well received in the past…from my end. Like everything, I realize that it all depends who is at the helm of the cooking and the facet in which it’s delivered. Luckily for me I had no idea at the time what Techno-emotional cuisine was because if I had, I am afraid I would have entered this epicurean journey with a tainted view based on my previous experiences.

Sitting in the private dining room amongst other journalists, the realization quickly hit me that everyone was speaking in Spanish and my token “hablan muy poco español” was not going to suffice in this setting. Don’t get me wrong, I can understand the basics and ask for the bare necessities. But how on earth do I even begin to converse let alone understand the language when we are talking about molecular gastronomy?! Good grief, even in English it’s pretty hard for me to wrap my head around the mechanics involved in this jaw dropping, sensory overload cuisine. Having been in similar situations like this one (where I didn’t know anyone or know little of the language) I have always managed and enjoyed myself. And I thought this situation was going to be the same, I was there to enjoy a beautiful meal and that’s what I was determined to do – regardless if I didn’t understand everything being said.

Oh, I forgot to mention a little detail that needs mentioning…that Murphy’s Law and I are best buddies! He only shows up when I think all is good and he somehow has an knack to hear my ever so faint whispers of “what could possibly go wrong?”. It’s a love-hate relationship that we have….I hate how he shows up in the most inopportune moments and he loves to see me squirm and turn every facet of red humanly possible that one can turn…but I digress.

Sitting down in the plush chair after introducing myself to those sitting around me, I felt relaxed in the ambiance that the private dining room gave and was ready for the techno-emotional cuisine to start! Little did I know, but the first amuse bouche was right in front of me the whole time…a beautiful vase that held a handful of luscious red roses were part of the meal. Having been given some tweezers to ‘pull out a petal’ and eat it seemed easy enough…or so I thought. As I plucked one of the delicate rose petals, I was immediately blocked from eating it just as I was about to put it in my mouth – I was told that the ‘petal’ that was to be eaten was hidden ever so cleverly in the actual rose. So, not only did I feel embarrassed of the near mishap (classic on my art) but there was a positive spin to this embarrassing incident…it broke the ice and relaxed the air in the room as we all tried to communicate more with one another.

So my fellow food lovers, let me take you on my food voyage of techno-emotional cuisine…enjoy the ride!

As Benazuza’s motto states:

“Dinner, Nice concept, is the meal that precedes dreams… but in the case of the Benazuza kitchen, It need not be in that order”

The Rose

The Rose that broke the ice for the Food Tease

 

The rose petal and beet…see how I could get confused when hidden in the flower 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Damiana Sour:

Cactus juice and cream in liquid nitrogen

Damiana Sour(2) Damiana Sour1 Damiana Sour

Margarita & Zafritas

Cold and hot Margarita

Cold and hot Margarita

 

Zafritas (dehydrated mashed potatoes with spices)

champagne icon Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut

Snacks:

Shizo caramel: japanese seaweed with tuna and cucumber

Shizo caramel

Cod: cod and salmon caviar

Cod

Crab flute: crab and guacamole taco

Crab flute

Crab flute

Eel volcano: eel fish with apple, foie gras and caviar

European eel volcano

Eel volcano

Taco de canasta: steamed taco with foie gras and tuffle

Taco de canasta

Avocado tempura: avocado with tequila and orange

Avocado tempura

Corn: baby corn with vanilla mayonnaise

Baby corn with vanilla mayonnaise

Mushroom “gordita”: mushroom brioche

Gordita

Duck tamale: duck confit tamale with green sauce

Duck confit tamale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duck confit tamale

wine icon Rincón del Barón Double Blanc 2011

Tapas:

Black jungle foie: foie gras, passion fruit jelly, calamari ink and praline on top

Black jungle foie

Egg: potato foam with Valladolid’s (Mayan) spicy pork sausage and chilli oil

Egg_ Egg1

Artichoke nest: cheese foam with beef reduction, caviar eggs and fresh truffle

IMG_5973

Artichoke nest

 

wine icon Doña Dolores Cuatro Regiones 2011

Entrées:

Fish roasted on a hotplate: (tatemado is a pre-Hispanic technique) sole, black sesame, shrimp potato foam with calamari ink phyllo pastry

Tatemado fish

Lamb burrito: lamb with sacred leaf and marinade: tortilla, lamb, lamb juice, pumpkin flower, guajillo chile with a pistachio vinaigrette on top

Lamb burrito

Pre-dessert:

Soursop mollusk: (soursop: tropical sweet and sour fruit) with mussels and limes

Soursop mollusk

 Dessert:

Mandarin: Mandarin orange cheesecake

Mandarin cheesecake

 Morphings:

The cherry: cherries with chocolate mint

Sinful cherries

Shot: margarita and lime jelly

Margarita shots

Not only was the multicourse lunch an experience in which I will no doubt remember and cherish for years to come, but it was also one of different flavours, textures and intriguing concepts of how food can be manipulated and reinvented by science. Zafra’s interpretation of certain edible items amazed me as to how it kept the integrity of the item regarding its true flavour and in some cases how it accentuated its subtleties.

Chef Rafael Zafra and The Food Tease

Funny how one meal can change your outlook on things. Even the most faint of flavours can be transformed and become the highlight of the feast…in the right hands that is!

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