For a very long time, Paris was the epicurean capitol of the world. Then, about a decade ago, the area around Barcelona, epitomized by elBulli, founded by a German/Czech couple in 1964, where Ferran Adria (left) became a staff member in 1984, began to shift the epicenter. This restaurant will now be closed for two years as Adria takes a sabbatical, but there is a critical mass of outstanding restaurants remaining, with three the Pellegrino Top Ten and a total of five in the Top 50. The #1 chef at the #1 restaurant is Rene (to my left in the photo above), but in Copenhagen Denmark. The USA, by the way, has six, the same as Italy, with France still leading with eight. An up and coming region is Sao Paulo, with three in the Top 100. I had lunch yesterday at DOM, #7, and today at Mani, #74.
My lunch at Mani could well have been the best I've ever had, and in combination with DOM yesterday, certainly the top two lunches I've ever had on back to back days. Helena Rizzo opened her Mani six years ago:
With her then was my angel, Glaucia Ferrari, who, through the internet, accepted my request (an exception on short notice), greeted me on entrance and directed the nearly three hour feast:
I accepted everything she recommended, starting with a caipirinha, but a special one with the fruit of the cashew nut, plus Stolze glasses of Rutini Chardonnay from Argentina and Matisses Carmenere Casa Marin from Chile to accompany the appetizers, beef on potato chip, a foie gras jelly and consomme of tomato:
Note the elaborate bread plate. The first course was an oyster with cucumber jelly and pearls of litchi:
The second course was beet root and anchovies Napolean sand sesame, cumuru and beet root sherbert:
This came with a glass of sparkling rose. Note the work of art, which might have been the dish of the day, for the combination of crispiness, tartness and taste was supreme. The third course was cod with an emulsion of bacuri, vanilla oil and herb salad:
With no less than a blue flower. This master work deserves a place in an art museum. The final course was duck rice with pequi (supposedly a dangerous fruit):
There was a transitional dessert of baby yucca with puxuri and coconut:
The first dessert of plum and ginger ice cream was another work of art:
Finally, a flan with guava sherbert and capucchino and a Chateau Haut Montelle Sauternes:
In two weeks, on the day I leave South American, I will dine at Astrid Y Gaston (Lima, Peru), which jumped from nothing to #42 this year.