Ferran Adria’s Los Angeles tour began Monday night with a cocktail party and Sam Nazarian’s little (let’s called it “intimate”) S Bar near the corner of Hollywood and Vine was packed with foodies, night-lifers and a smattering of hometown chefs out to greet the big man. Jose Andres, who this month is opening Bazaar in Beverly Hills with Nazarian, co-hosted in a bright red baseball cap. Suzanne Goin was there, nine months pregnant and looking ready to be done with it (as is her husband David Lentz). Alain Giraud was there as well and I ran into Nancy Silverton on her way out, leaving a little early to tend to something urgent.
But the big star of the night, at least for me, was Laker forward Pau Gasol. Look, I can talk to chefs any day, but a seven-footer with a sweet set shot is another matter.
I have to confess that having been a sportswriter for 10 years, I was taken aback by Gasol. Born and raised in Barcelona, he speaks American vernacular English -- with only the faintest trace of an accent –- at least as well as most of the folks with whom I shared press boxes in the old days.
Naturally, we talked about food (if you want to read about basketball, join me over at the Brothers K’s Lakers blog right here). So far, he says, he’s tried a couple of Spanish restaurants in Southern California but “I haven’t really found one that gets to the level of real food from Spain. It’s been a little disappointing. I’m afraid I quit looking some time ago.”
Realizing he might be sounding less than diplomatic, he backtracked a little. “Some of them come close, but the product just doesn’t have the flavor that it does in Spain. I really do crave a restaurant that can give me something that I can relate to home, but that’s not what quite what I’ve experienced so far. Jose [Andres] is opening up, though, and I’m really looking forward to that.”
When in Spain, Gasol says, he looks forward to eating adventures with a friend who cooks at Michelin one-star Drolma in Barcelona’s Hotel Majestic. “We go to lots of different places and sometimes we work together on dinner. Well, he cooks and I learn a little bit. I haven’t quite gotten my cooking together yet.”
But the first thing he craves when he gets home, he says, is a tortilla espanola the way his parents make it. “I’m really lucky because my mom and dad both cook. That’s definitely what reminds me of home.”
-- Russ Parsons
Photo of Jose Andres, Pau Gasol and Ferran Adria by Russ Parsons