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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Ferran Adria talk/Super Duper

He's considered one of the greatest chefs of all time and the godfather of molecular gastronomy. His food blends taste and science, with dishes like liquid ravioli and caviar made from olive oil, and his (now closed) restaurant El Bulli was voted the best restaurant the world for 5 years in a row - with over 2 million hopeful diners fighting for the 8000 seats available a year.

So when Ferran Adria came to town to talk about his new book "The Family Meal" - which he says is a "regular book for regular people" - it seemed fitting that my dinner post-talk took place over "regular" burgers at Super Duper, located just down the block from the Castro Theater.

Also interesting was that Mr. Adria himself spent this day of his Bay Area trip visiting some "regular" places on his own - notably having tacos at La Taqueria, ice cream at Humphrey Slocombe (where he apparently ordered "one of everything") and perusing Omnivore Books (one of the event's sponsors).

His sold-out (over 1400 seats) talk was entertaining and charmingly anecdotal. He claims that there's nothing particularly new or original about today's recipes - that they are just re-envisioned versions of dishes that have been around forever. He also spent a lot of time talking about El Bulli, which closed a few months ago and will re-open as a sort of culinary think tank in a few years.

I love the idea of The Family Meal, based on the meals the El Bulli staff gets to eat, which is targeted at folks that don't have a lot of time or money to spend on everyday meals. Besides hearing him speak, attendees also got the chance to ask questions and have books signed. We saw some of that same crowd shortly afterwards at Super Duper, a retro-looking burger spot serving Niman Ranch burgers and Straus organic soft serve.

The burgers were thick and juicy and quality toppings like an organic egg, roasted portabellos or cambozola cheese really put it over the edge. A touch on the sloppy side, but some people like that sort of thing. The bun was a bit too bread-y, in my opinion, but I rather enjoyed the fries which came with three dipping sauces - homemade mayo, chipotle and a super sauce (a cousin to thousand island).

Was it really super duper? Maybe not, but there was a freshness, and an elevated but yet still homespun quality that made it super satisfying. A fun, retro-y decor and personality came through that made it feel that much more special too. I'll be back again, I'm sure.



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