I hope you are ready to expand your mind with this week's Taste section.
One burning question drove the content on the following pages, inspired by a recently opened exhibit at the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg: Can food be considered art?
The exhibit, "Ferran Adria: The Invention of Food," features the work of Ferran Adria, a Spanish chef considered one of the best in the world. At the helm of elBulli, a restaurant in Spain that closed in 2011, Adria was famous for his avant-garde cooking style that changed the way the world thought about food. Many of the techniques he pioneered are copied in high-end restaurants everywhere.
In our cover story, Times food critic Laura Reiley and Times art critic Lennie Bennett discuss whether the sort of dishes Adria and other chefs produce should be considered works of art. It is a fascinating conversation, whether or not you have an opinion about either topic.
For this week's recipe, we wanted to be equally challenging. The dish, New England Clam Chowder, is an avant-garde twist on a classic. I know not everyone will want to get in the kitchen to whip this up immediately, but maybe it can serve as inspiration for adventurous home cooks who want to try something out of their comfort zone. The recipe comes from a 2004 New York Times story in which two Times writers attempted a home-cooked meal inspired by "new wave chefs" like Adria.
The writers prepared gin gelatin to form bite-sized martinis; they made "dry crudites" out of dehydrated dill pickle, jicama chips and caper "nuts." And the clam chowder, "with its layered whites and grays, its electric-green chive oil garnish, and the pinkish-orange clam on top, looked gorgeous, and it may have been the night's most popular course." The recipe originally comes from José Andrés, a Spanish chef who trained with Adria at elBulli.
The thing about this recipe is its simplicity. I know, that sounds crazy. This New England Clam Chowder has multiple steps, and one of them involves turning bacon into a creamy substance. But take a look at the ingredient list. Aside from one or two ingredients, you probably already have most of this stuff in your kitchen. And on their own, these steps aren't particularly difficult. This recipe is all about building flavors by making separate components — cream, potatoes, clam, clam broth, onion, bacon and chives — that come together to create a complex dish. Maybe, even, a work of art.
Contact Michelle Stark at [email protected] or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17.