art + chocolate in Spain, on Bourdain’s best episode yet
This past week, I caught an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. This is one of those cable shows that I don’t feel the need to watch weekly on the original air date because I know that the Travel Channel tends to re-air the episodes to death. So it’s a happy accident sometimes when I am in the mood to watch something and it happens to come on. It doesn’t feel like zoning out in front of the tube when I’m learning something and with this show, I always do.
It was a particularly happy accident to see this episode on Spain, because it was literally the best episode of No Reservations or possibly any food/travel show I’ve ever seen. It was perfect.
In general, the reason I love Bourdain is this: He is a master deconstructer. In every place he travels, he goes wherever there is some kind of culinary innovation, artistry or cultural significance in food or drink and he climbs inside the experience full-on and deconstructs it from the inside out. But it isn’t boring or didatic. He just has a natural way of bringing it there. You never witness him eating something incredible without knowing how it was made, why it was made that way or what makes it special. You never see the process, without being exposed to the context. The people, the setting and the reasons why are as important to him as the meals. Not the surface and studied, general Alton Brown reasons why, but the true gritty and heady reasons and connections that you can only get by going there and asking the right questions. He is a storyteller first, he just happens to be in the business of telling the stories of places and people through their foods. Which is how we get to a glorious episode, like the Spain episode and artists like Enric Rovira .
Enric Rovira is extraordinary. If he had been melting steel with his bare hands and sculpting it, it would be no less compelling than what the man did with chocolate. Pure awe.
The segment highlights his process of making ridiculously beautiful chocolate eggs. I found it on youtube (but wouldn’t be surprised if it gets taken down shortly) so watch it now:
I was especially delighted with the delicately timed melting of the chocolate in the sun and the finished texture of the eggs. The end result is organic and earthy, yet also whimsical and modern.
Naturally after the episode was over, I googled him and found his website (which also has drool-worthy design, in addition to its subject matter). It’s so lovely. I highly recommend immediately going there to explore and see countless creations that I would happily visit in a museum exhibit. Some of them more traditionally resemble chocolate, masterful, but still edible. Other pieces are surreal and breathtaking, leaving me questioning what I would do with them if I ever were to find them in my possession. What do you do with something far too beautiful to eat and yet nearly impossible to preserve? Like this set:
You can buy it here at Chocolatierra. This is the description:
Enric Rovira’s Planetarium. Rovira’s chocolate rendition of our solar system. This ten piece collection is composed of one giant bonbon, representing the Sun, and nine smaller bonbons, representing the surrounding planets. The Sun’s ganache is made with Williams pear liquor. Mercury is symbolized by a truffle of caramel and spices; Venus by an almond praline; Earth by a white chocolate truffle with salt and pepper; Mars by an Earl Grey tea; Jupiter by a dark chocolate truffle with orange caramel; Saturn by a chocolate lemon truffle; Uranus by a dark chocolate truffle with bitter Campari; Neptune by a dark chocolate coffee truffle; and Pluto by an almond praline with fried corn.
Is that not just ridiculous? What do you even do with that?
I’m thinking dinner party. Get nine people together to each select a planet, tailor the other food and beverages around the chocolate and celebrate something. Perhaps to coincide with the next eclipse or comet sighting? Perhaps just to have an excuse to do something wacky and beautiful. If I were a rich girl, this is the kind of thing that I would spend my money on. Dreamy and delightful and completely inspiring.