Avinguida del Parellel, 164
Right next to Tickets Bar, 41º is only available for dinner service, with five tables made up of parties of two or four. It becomes a bar after dinner service. Before my trip, I had come across a few fallacies. That the menu between Tickets Bar & 41º overlapped - so going to Tickets then having drinks at 41º would suffice. Not true, out of the 50-plus bite-sized courses on the night, the only two courses that overlapped would have been the spherical olives & the chocolate lava rock which are both available on the Tickets menu. I had also encountered the issue of having a party of three, but we managed to get around 41º’s strict policy of two or fours.
41º’s degustation is a ridiculously indulgent affair, spanning over four hours - and it’s four hours of impeccable service, each course timed to perfection, the most minute of pauses between each course, to allow for slight reflection.
romero y julieta
We begin with a cocktail. The hip flask which was on our table, contained a concoction of vodka, grapefruit juice, lemongrass, rosemary & ginger. Our server whips up a strong heady sorbet with the use of liquid nitrogen. Incredibly fragrant of rosemary.
raspberry orchid with pistachio cream
Crispy sticky crackly petals with pistachio cream & crumble, garnished with atsina cress.
Resting in liquid olive oil, orange, lemon zest & black peppercorns, the soft silky spherical olives, El Bulli’s notoriousreverse spherification, need only be coaxed gently into releasing the smoothest harmonious blend of olives & anchovies which rolls to all corners. Taken as a single bite.
orange cocktail with sweet vermouth sorbet
Picking it up with your fingers, it’s airy and light, the sheer contact with the bed of mint leaves imparts a coolness, the icy sorbet with a crisp meringue shell & campari drops melts in your mouth.
infused watermelon & sesame seed shot
We open the tin to find a black sesame ball, small but potent like a shot. Accompanied by cool watermelon infused in beetroot and orange, wrapped around yuzu powder and yuzu peel. Both are earthy and sweet, yet incredibly distinct.
The thinnest glass campari sheets, with orange jelly. And yet unmistakeable in flavour.
gin & tonic 41
I love a good gin & tonic, in fact I make myself a pretty mean gin & tonic for a nightcap. Tonight there are two additional elements. The first, an infusion of shisha smoke, a Moroccan tobacco which is quite fresh. The second, is purple shiso.
Potent, with an added smokiness. To be nursed before & with the next course.
spicy corn tentacles // crispy seaweed with quinoa
As part of the gin and tonic, 41° course, from the sea we have a perfectly crisp seaweed lined with quinoa, and these divine squid tentacles, spicy from the kimchi powder, each suction cup a perfectly formed bubble, perched atop a half corn cob from Peru, continuity even in its presentation. The tentacle is a shade of purple, mirroring the purple shiso in the gin & tonic.
white anchovy with its fossil
The next three courses showcase the luxury trio. The first of which has three unusual offerings. A raspberry, filled with raspberry vinegar gel, a glistening sardine, whole & smoked with a touch of salt. And an intricate sardine fossil imprinted on a crisp wonton wrapper. We are instructed to place the sardine atop the fossil, and halfway through, pause for the raspberry as a whole, before continuing with the rest of the sardine & its fossil. The raspberry is sweet & fresh, and the anchovy gets milder after the raspberry shot.
parmesan ice cream sandwich // nigiri foie gras
A dainty square of parmesan ice cream sandwiched by crisp parmesan crackers & lemon marmalade, easily picked up with two fingers, is bold & intense. Each course merely serves to reinforce how perfect the entire affair is - from the service to the plates. You look at each component and you imagine how it should taste and feel, and it is exceeded. It’s crispier, crunchier, softer, dreamier than you imagine it to be.
The rich floaty caramelised foie gras, is perched on & complemented by a rich tonka bean marshmallow cloud, both are feather light to touch yet rich to taste. With a slice of sweet pear between the foie gras & the marshmallow. As you would with a nigiri, eaten with your fingers as one.
ham & melon 2012 // iberian ham sandwich
Showcasing two different takes of jamon iberico, a typical dish from Catalunya of melon and ham. Termed Joselito’s, to the left - a complete role reversal with shards of crystallised ham on a sheet of smoked canteloupe. As we did with the tuna belly & pancetta at Tickets, we create a roll with our culinary forceps. The delicate sheet of melon is sweet & soft and the transparent ham is so bold - a brilliant take on a classic pairing.
The next pairing is the crispiest crunchiest air baguette, with a gleaming coat of Joselito iberian ham (five years reserve) snugly wrapped around it. An intense divinely light, small ham croissant if you will.
I can’t even begin to fathom how much thought & effort has gone into ensuring each component is perfection in itself, the technique, of how it is presented, to each sensation, the pairing itself, in particular where they do something completely different to what you would expect. It’s nothing I have ever seen before. And it’s each and every course that is pulling you in different directions, causing you to marvel & wonder. The plates are gone so quickly and the next plate is before you.
wild alaskan salmon with salmon roe
As promised, we move onto the caviar trilogy. Salmon roe perched pretty on wild alaskan salmon & sour cream. The salmon is cooked on one side and raw on the other. From afar it appears to be suspended in mid-air.
We are instructed to manoeuvre the salmon onto our spoon with the culinary forceps, and firmly press the spoon downward against the plastic wrap, allowing the smoke within to seep out in wisps and graze the salmon & roe, gently infusing it. Albert Adria was on hand to assist us with the process.
oyster with wakame juice & caviar
Instructed to start with the caviar first then the the baby oyster. The caviar has gorgeous flavours of the sea, the baby oyster merely enhancing our experience. Clean & beautifully smooth.
caviar & hazelnut oil caviar, hazelnut vodka shot
Based on a duo of ingredients & flavours - caviar and hazelnut. Caviar has an inherent nutty flavour, making hazelnut a perfect partner. The hazelnut cream, dotted around hazelnut oil & fresh cream encased in smoked hazelnut skin. The hazelnut flavours are positively abundant, the sweetness of the hazelnuts complementing the earthiness of the caviar vodka and caviar goes well.
The accompanying shot of homemade hazelnut infused vodka is the perfect end to the course.
frozen banana daiquiri rose // mojito // ambar // mango mai tai
Four edible cocktails - we start with a delicate banana daiquiri rose with yuzu, picking it up from the base - crispy sweet banana. The next, the sensation of picking it up and biting into it still haunts me - gorgeous firm piece of sugar cane infused with rum, with the tiniest mint leaf peeking out.
The next two, are taken as a single bite. The mango maitai bonbon, with a silky white chocolate coat, breaks easily and creamy mango leaves a silken trail in your mouth.
And an amber sac of rosemary & honey with elderflower liqueur.
galicia: razor clam with codium juice & tempura
Our first destination is to the north of Spain - Galicia. First the crisp codium tempura, a seaweed. Followed by the fresh succulent plump razor clams in its shell, in a green bath of olive oil, salicornia & codium.
navarra: white asparagus with crispy cheese powder & chilled soup
An important region of Spain, Navarra being a big producer of white asparagus. Showcased two ways, we start with a icy creamy white asparagus soup. Followed by the sweet white asparagus spear cooked in a cacao butter bath for 30 seconds, coated in a fragrant parmesan biscuit.
peru: hamachi tiradito with leche de tigre
Our dalliance with Peru consists of fresh silky smooth hamachi infused with the famous Peruvian leche de tigre - tiger’s milk. With a bouquet of ginger, mango, papaya, cucumber & fresh herbs to cleanse the palate.
mexico: sweet corn ravioli with crispy corn
Mexico’s love affair with corn - a paper cornet with freeze dried sweet corn kernels dusted with mexican spices. Taken as a shot.
The next, picking up the half lime, carefully sliding the sweet corn ravioli topped with fried sweet corn, cilantro & chipotle in as a whole bite, and finish off with a squeeze of lime juice into your mouth, before pressing your tongue across your palate as the sensation of spicy chipotle, creamy corn, lime zest interplay. A beautiful homage to Mexico of corn, heat & lime.
japan: tuna temaki / red prawn with miso
We fly from the simple sweet heat of Mexico, to the fresh clean flavours of the seas of Japan. We have a seaweed cornet filled with fresh tuna tartare & tobiko. The seaweed is so crispy and salty, contrasting with the sweetness and the slippery textures from the tuna & the flying fish roe.
A whole pickled prawn with miso, soy and shiso. Using our culinary forceps, we start with the cold fresh prawn, so creamy & fresh with ginger. Caged within the crispy prawn head is the prawn essence pearl. The pearl, is so rich & creamy. A wonderful contrast between the first bite of the cold creamy body, the next bite, retains the creaminess and the sweetness of the prawn, yet warm and rough.
thailand: mango & the leaf
Sour sliver of mango, with finger lime, peanut, tamarind reduction, coconut butter, thai basil. Made into a roll with the culinary forceps, taken as one bite.
The second part, a kaffir lime leaf, which acts as a vessel for the glistening coat of cold smooth silky lemon jelly, its flavours mirroring the mango.
china: xa su bao
Clouds of steam unfurl as they open the steamer basket to reveal soft fluffy steamed buns, fragrant of star anise, eaten with our fingers. Warm juicy folds of pork belly, teriyaki, cinnamon & star anise. Accompanied by a romesco sauce, spiced with similar spices as the bun.
korea: kimchi of belgian endives
A play on a dish synonymous with Korea, untying the clear parcel to reveal endives & crushed pickled fennel, shiitake & shimeji mushrooms in a spicy kimchi broth, fragrant with sesame.
nordic: journey & carrot
Noma, having been at the pinnacle for the last three years, Denmark had to feature in our travels. I was particularly taken by the vivid images of snow covered terrains & white tipped greenery & the vibrancy of the colours. A most remarkable dish.
The baby carrot complete with green shoots & leaves, coated in purple beetroot gelatine, peeking out under a heap of malt bread sand & sour cream infused with horseradish, brightened by the tiniest dainty white blossoms. Beautifully sweet & earthy, almost as though it was freshly plucked from the ground by the stem.
Equally stunning - a crunchy malt bread toastie with tender beef carpaccio, white cream cheese, red onion, pickles & herbs, with freshly fallen white vinegar snow. Our hands were left dusty with the snow, a most entrancing course on all counts.
france: rabbit chop with its blood // potato with bone marrow
The tender rabbit is piping hot, instructed to pick it up with our fingers by the bone & dip it in its gamey viscous blood.
The velvety confit potato, with tarragon gel, pork jus & bone marrow is wonderfully rich & creamy. Both courses eloquently sum up the richness of French cuisine.
basque country: perretxico mushroom ravioli
The silkiest sheets of ravioli wrappers make for a sensational bite-sized pocket that quite literally bursts and a rich perretxico mushroom sauce spills forth as you bite into juicy perretxico mushrooms. Garnished with slices of white perretxico mushroom, cheese & garlic flowers.
catalunya: green peas with iberian ham consomme
We find our way back to Catalunya, a simple bowl of sweet green peas, served warm. Finished with a light broth, rich with iberian ham & mandarin.
A prelude to the fanfare of delicate sweets to finish off the night. The last one to join the series of edible cocktails, the cactus leaves have been infused in margarita, topped with sugar, honey powder & dark coffee gel.
Each table has their margaritas whipped up before them, our servers showcasing impressive cocktail shaking techniques. The classic salt rim on the accompanying margaritas are done away, instead we have a chartreuse foam.
cactus leaf // margarita
Another one of my favourites, the cactus leaves are an absolute dream. The slow jelly bite is preceded by the roughness & crunch of the sugar crystals, resembling the salt rim. The heat & strength of the cactus leaf shot is a precursor to the margarita itself, strong sweet fragrant with lime zest. One of the best margaritas I’ve seen in a while, the chartreuse foam in itself has a real punch.
mandarin bonbon // blackcurrant profiterole
The chocolate coat of the bonbon is so rich on your palate, yet light to touch & almost glides on your fingers, giving way to a drunken mandarin sponge, sweet & tart.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the profiterole. Ridiculously airy & light, a stunning violet, almost like a meringue that instantly crumbles & melts, the daintiest heart-shaped atsina cress sprouts from the creamy greek yoghurt filling. A blackcurrant cloud.
wasabi, lime & ginger // akakarai
The last cocktail of the night, akakarai - red & spicy in Japanese, of yuzu, vodka, pomegranate, ginger, lime, sake & soju.
And its partner in crime, the bitterness from the lime zest, the salty heat of the wasabi ice cream, tamed perfectly by the milkiness of the coconut & the fresh lime granita, and nutty black sesame.
caramel popcorn ice cream cone
What is it with their magical cornets, that crumble so gorgeously. The cornet, made of corn with creamy salted caramel ice cream. Topped with freeze dried corn & a chocolate biscuit, for a perfect pairing.
chocolate truffles // raspberry with saffron // peanut passion // black sesame rock //peach pit & peanut
Chocolate with salted caramel & sea salt, a luxurious creamy texture; freeze dried raspberries & chocolate, topped with saffron; passionfruit dipped in chocolate topped with a peanut; black sesame & white chocolate rock with yuzu puree; and the delicate peanuts of white sesame & white chocolate, freeze dried blueberry; and the peach pits crafted from hazelnut, gianduja chocolate & orange.
41 Degrees, is truly at the forefront of what it does. It’s wildly experimental, forward thinking, incredibly so and yet it all comes together seamlessly. You don’t question it, it makes complete & utter sense. They waltz you away on a journey, visually & on your palate. And at the end of it all, you’re really quite exhausted. Each course makes you think, leaves you in positive wonderment. The tiniest plates that are paraded out one after the other, perfectly timed, each one perfectly thought out - from the unique pairings, to capturing the essence of each country, tantalising & evoking a sense of familiarity for those that you have been before.