At first glance, authoring a book like The Family Meal with its collection of 3 course every day dining menus might seem a rather strange choice for the Chef of a 3 Michelin star restaurant, like Ferran Adrià, but given that the menus in the book were all cooked in his restaurant and inspired by meals cooked in the home countries of the restaurants international staff, it makes perfect sense. His previous book, A Day at El Bulli chronicled life at the eponymous restaurant through recipes, stories, diagrams and photographs. The restaurant, famed for its inventive dishes and ever changing 30 course tasting menu was only open for six months of the year and had roughly two million requests for the 8,000 seats available over the season.
Ferran believes that the secret to good cooking is organisation and The Family Meal reflects that through its use of meal preparation timelines and extensive photography. As well as the three course menus, the book also covers many of the basics such as stocks and sauces. It makes it the perfect book for those who are beginning their cooking journey, those who don’t cook very often and those who find it stressful. There are great meals for more advanced cooks as well, some utilising Ferran’s signature techniques such as foams and emulsions.
The team at Kika Tapas in Darlinghurst have hit on the perfect way to showcase the menus from the book. Each Tuesday the restaurant prepares two menus from the book which are offered with a selection of the chef’s own pintxos (tapas) dishes, a glass of premium Spanish wine and a copy of the book for $55. Given that the price of the book alone is $39.95, the evening is a great value night out.
The menus offered on the night I attended were:
Lime marinated fish
Black rice with cuttlefish
Bread with chocolate and olive oil
We started with the pintxos. Grilled cuttlefish was served on a square of pressed watermelon and topped with baby mustard cress. Plump, chargrilled bites of lamb were skewered and served on a spiced bean puree and the pintxos selection was rounded off with a Sydney rock oyster served in a shot glass topped with gazpacho. The tang of the gazpacho was a perfect foil for the oyster and the bean puree was matched perfectly with the juicy lamb. The cuttlefish may have spent a little too long on the grill as it was slightly tough, but was softened slightly by the watermelon.
I opted for the first menu. The lime marinated fish was kingfish, served simply with with lime, spring onion, coriander and olive oil the dish was reminiscent of a ceviche although the fish was presented sashimi style in thin slices. I loved the way the delicate kingfish wasn’t overpowered by the marinade. It was beautifully presented.
Ossobuco was cooked in a tomato based sauce and topped with gremolata which cuts perfectly through the acidity of the tomatoes. I like my ossobuco slow cooked and the meat here was falling from the bone.
Last up with the Pina Colada. It was simple, with chunks of fresh pineapple a welcome addition.
The dishes on the other menu looked equally as enticing, especially the dessert of bread with chocolate and olive oil. I’ll be preparing that for dessert sooner rather than later. The book itself is full of inventive menus and would suit cooks at all skill levels. Perfect for preparing a family meal.
The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adrià. Phaidon Press. $39.95
247 Victoria St, Darlinghurst NSW Australia
+61 2 9360 7865
Jeremy Bowell dined as a guest of PEPR Publicity.