A Squared: Celebrating Coffee & Gastronomy with Chef Ferran Adrià & Lavazza

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Celebrating Coffee & Gastronomy with Chef Ferran Adrià & Lavazza

Photo c/o Lavazza
I recently had the opportunity to cross two very fun foodie goals off my bucket list:

  • Take a class at La Scuola di Eataly? Check.
  • Share the same air as and soak up the brilliance of a world renowned chef for an hour? Check.

Lavazza and chef Ferran Adrià have been working together for over a decade toward the common goal of rethinking the typical cup of coffee. Giuseppe Lavazza says, “With more than a century of know-how dedicated exclusively to coffee, and over 20 years of research undertaken at Lavazza’s innovation center, we have been able to invent new and unexpected ways to taste coffee. Focus on promoting coffee culture and support of high gastronomy have always been part of Lavazza’s core values, and we are happy to celebrate those achievements with Ferran Adrià today.”

Photo c/o Lavazza

Chef Adrià is best known as one of the godfathers of molecular gastronomy. He incorporated revolutionary techniques into the preparation of food at his world famous restaurant elBulli (in Spain) for years before those techniques were considered acceptable in the food world. He brought this experience and these techniques to the folks at Lavazza to create new ways to taste coffee and then he stopped by Eataly to tell us all about them!

First on the menu for us: Coffee Caviar.

Coffee was dropped into a bowl of solution to create tiny pearls (or 'caviar') of coffee that popped in your mouth with an intense coffee flavor. It seems a little weird, yes, but chef Adrià reminded us that all cooking is "chemistry and physics," and a series of elements reacting to one another. It was a simple and real way to explain these new techniques-- because they aren't scary. They're just new.

Next up: Èspesso.

The chef used a siphon (you know, the can filled with nitrous oxide that you see Starbucks baristas shaking up and using to shoot whipped cream on top of your latte) to create a dairy-free "mousse" made of only espresso. It was incredibly light and airy and completely amazing that it could be made from espresso and air. The idea here came from all of those foams that you see at high end restaurants, but it translated really well. And the espresso flavor was super intense in this light mousse.

He also referred to the siphon as "the devil," which the room found pretty funny. He was referring to the fact that when he started using less traditional and more avantgarde tools like this one in the early 1990's that many critics essentially freaked out. It's commonplace for kitchens to use new tools and techniques now, but back then Chef Adrià's methods were incredibly controversial in the food world.

The third and final item that we tried was my favorite: the Spugna al caffe.

This was affectionately referred to as 'coffee cake.' Because it was literally coffee and a poundcake mix mixed up in that siphon, sprayed into a paper cup, and microwaved for 30 seconds. And it created a delicious cake.

Chef Adrià's lesson took me right back to the architectural theory classes that I had to take in college. His views on food, cooking, technique, and history are incredibly cerebral and he threw out theory after theory-- many of which, truthfully, were way over my amateur chef head. But what I did gather from all of his theories and anecdotes, is that just like when I learned that good architecture wasn't just about designing a beautiful building, cooking is so much more than creating tasty food.

Later in the afternoon, Chef Adrià spent some time meeting Eataly visitors and signing copies of his book elBulli 2005 – 2011. And if you missed the book signing, here's something fun for you: Eataly’s Gran Bar Lavazza will offer guests a chance to purchase and taste one of Ferran’s limited-edition coffee creations, the very cool Èspesso through March 26!

And what A Squared post would be complete without a gratuitous food photo? Well, after our class ended the lovely folks at Eataly fed us. And as expected, it was amazing! I was especially loving the baked cauliflower pasta and the tangy endive and radicchio salad. REALLY good stuff.

Thanks to the great folks at Lavazza and Eataly for this afternoon!

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  1. What an awesome experience!! Those variations on coffee/espresso are so intriguing - I would LOVE to try them! Thanks for sharing such a cool post. :)

    xo Elle


    1. Elle, it was such a cool day-- he's such an interesting guy. Happy to share! :)

  2. Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. Thanks. Best Italian Chef


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