Kochfreunde.com is the culinary magazine of Oliver Wagner. Here, everything revolves around the almost most beautiful thing in the world: good food. The focus ranges from reports on exciting restaurants to recipes from his own kitchen, cookbooks and culinary gadgets.


Kochfreunde.com ist das kulinarisches Magazin von Oliver Wagner. Hier dreht sich alles rund um die beinahe schönste Sache der Welt: Gutes Essen. Dabei reicht der Fokus von Berichten über spannende Restaurants bis hin zu Rezepten aus der eigenen Küche, Kochbücher und kulinarische Gadgets.

El Poblet, València

The Spanish avant-garde polarizes like hardly any other culinary trend. You either love them or hate them. A Four Hands Dinner at El Poblet with Albert Adrià and Luís Valls recently showed that the stars of the scene also understand the classic craft of cooking.

El Poblet in València has been expanding the cosmos of Quique Dacosta, the exceptional chef of the Spanish avant-garde, since 2012. Awarded 3 Michelin stars and currently ranked 62nd in the World 50 Best Restaurants. The right entrance door leads the guest from the bustling streets of the old town of València up a staircase to the second floor. Around a spacious bright interior relaxes a beautiful and surprisingly feminine restaurant concept full of playful elements, flowers and pastel tones. By the way, the left entrance door opens to Vuelve Carolina, the associated gastrobar. Both restaurants share the kitchen, logistics and infrastructure of the old city villa.

Fortunately, this measure allows costs to be reduced. However, the menu offers the biggest savings potential, if you can speak of it in this league. Because in El Poblet many of the classics are taken from the mother house in Dénia, the “Restaurant Quique Dacosta”. Current dishes are also transferred more or less one-to-one to València. But always after the current “season” is over, when Dénia switches to a new menu. In this way, the costs for R&D, i.e. for the part of the high-end catering industry responsible for researching and developing new ideas, can be reduced to almost zero. Clever!

This evening, the finale of the València Culinary Meeting, the young chef Luís Valls will be at the stove with Albert Adrià and his team from Tickets in Barcelona. The two share a close friendship, they say – and a very similar style. My last visit to Tickets was three years ago(report here), and I remember the strong staging of the restaurant and the dishes, but of course also the very present revival of molecular cuisine. After all, Albert Adrià’s brother Ferran is the mastermind behind the famous elBulli, which at the time shaped this style like no other restaurant.

Olive Roots

The gears are sent in constant rotation, marked on the map sometimes red, sometimes blue – so you keep track in the heat of the battle. Here, too, the pace is pleasantly high. In fact, the marking is almost superfluous, very quickly you can see which course was imported from Barcelona and which plate has its roots somewhere between Denia and València.

The Olive (tickets)

And so it goes with the famous olive from the tickets. A classic with the best ingredients from the small chemistry set such as calcium chloride, alginic acid and of course xanthan gum. It’s cool, fresh, very olive, but also quite artificial. The wooden spoon on which the sphere is handed under admonishing words “Eat it with one bite, very important, otherwise you will make a mess” is brittle, tastes persistently woody and somehow also does not seem so insanely hygienic.


Despite all the criticism, of course, this snack is still a nice tribute to Ferran Adrià and El Bulli, where Liquid Olive was born. We continue with almonds in three varieties.

Muddy Mojama

It gets more exciting with a slice of mojama, a salted and dried piece of tuna, delicately sliced with a touch of salt and drizzled with a little olive oil.

Muddy Mojama

The next two snacks revolve around high-quality products. Served on a dehydrated cabbage leaf Albert Adrià wonderfully thick slices of truffle. This works perfectly together. Next to it a small caviar gnocchi with a cauliflower. Here the eye is deceived, because instead of a lightly cooked floret, it is a créme that has been shaped into just that and thanks to the right temperature, but above all the sufficient amount of texturizer, it holds it.

Crispy cabbage with truffle, Cauliflower with caviar (Tickets)

The combination of caviar and cauliflower is classic, and while I don’t care too much for the denatured texture of the sprouts, it works beautifully. Creamy, melting and salty iodine.

Soup of green tomatoes and pato prawn

The cold soup of green tomatoes is in the style of a gazpacho. Fresh, sweet and slightly sour, very intense and together with the raw shrimp from Pato and an iced foam of tomato water that melts away under the photographer’s lens, a fabulous course.

Creamy avocado, saffron jelly and sea urchins (tickets)

Albert Adriá and colleagues walk on more classic paths with the next course. A thin but very strong saffron gelée is applied on top of an avocado cream. On it are enthroned three wonderful pieces of sea urchin. This simple as well as intelligent combination allows you to play with each spoon and put the three components together in different quantities.

Wagyu tatar cube (tickets)

Actually, it’s always said that Wagyue doesn’t really want to work as a tartare. Perhaps, like so much in life, a question of dosage. For these little snacks are strong and the potato cubes crunchy, perhaps also due to the rough cut of the meat, very pleasant – nevertheless, I can imagine more exciting preparation from the noble meat.

Sardine Garum

After many small courses had splashed along so far, the menu changes at this point in one fell swoop. Fortunately, in a very good direction. Because the sardine with garum is not much less than a sensation. Garum, as already described in the Apicius cookbook from the second century, is prepared as follows:

Boil one sextary of anchovies and three sextaries of good wine until both have become a thick mass. This drive through a hair sieve and save in glass bottles.

This fermented fish sauce is correspondingly intense, quite different from the Asian fish sauces and is also only mixed into the dish in fine doses. Together with the fish, the onions and some crunchy elements from the bones, a powerful plate of fish comes together here with a strong Mediterranean character and a real burst of umami.

It joins an old classic of the house, the red shrimp from Dénia. The product is considered one of the best of its kind. In Quique Dacosta’s kitchen, it has always been cooked in just a little salted water, carefully cooled down and served at room temperature. A perfect product, gently and ideally prepared – more is really not possible. The less perfect specimens of red shrimp are primarily grooved, and it is not so problematic if some moisture can enter through small cracks in the carapace. Of course, with the cooked version, this would be a disaster. Just like not sucking out the shrimp’s head properly.

It is accompanied separately in a glass by a heavy broth of chard with a foam from the carcasses of shrimp. Great!

Dénia prawn boiled with chard tea

Foie gras follows twice – in very different preparations. Albert Adrià’s version wraps a smoked eel rolled in charcoal. Served with crusty and paper-thin slices of bread. Both the eel and the liver are certainly excellent products – but in combination they do not necessarily gain in expression and power, nevertheless a pleasant and very clear course.

Foie and charcoal eel (tickets)

In parallel, there is a paper-thin cracker under a meltingly shaved foie gras. The crunch and lightness of the shaved liver makes this seem very elegant and delicate, a citrus jam gives pleasant contrast, perhaps a bit too much sweetness.

Pickled foie tosta

With the next course, the complexity increases again. The “All i pebre” of eel is almost a national dish of Valencia. Lake Albufera, just a few kilometers outside the city is not only the cradle of rice, but also home to many eels. These are added to a hearty sofrito based on peppers, garlic and bread for “All i pebre”. In this more luxurious version, the eel is brought out much larger and the sauce has an insane depth. Of course, none of the curd of the sauce remains on the plate, but is completely absorbed with the bread that is fortunately ready.

“All i pebre” of eel

“Marcusante” is billed as an in-house cross between passion fruit and pea, The fruit is theatrically opened with scissors for each guest at the table. If you ignore these sleight of hand, this is actually a great course because the combination of the fruit with Maresme peas, chicken stock and a little soy sauce is really good.

Maracusante (tickets)

Three things are intriguing about this plate: first, the squeaky green balls filled with a sausage meat that taste at once light, fresh and yet pleasantly meaty. And then the stock. Here it is not only the aroma of smoked ham that tastes and smells beguiling, it is also the almost gelatinized consistency. I’m usually critical of artificial changes in textures, but this works perfectly here. It cannot be ruled out that no texturizer is involved at all, but that the stock is simply so dense that the slight reduction in temperature alone causes gelation to begin.

Meatballs with little beans and ham consommé (Tickets)

The black rice is said to recall the aromas of burning rice paddies in autumn, dark clouds of smoke wafting over the cool landscape, mixing in the toasted notes of the grasses. Truffles and dead trumpets emphasize the autumn mood, and the pigeon used in this dish again adds depth and intensity. This is, for me, the most exciting course of the evening, and indeed close to poetry, which simply continues to tell the roughly set narrative frame story on the plate.

Rice ashes and truffle

Here we have a translation problem: actually, the following course was presented to us as sweetbreads from the goat. Actually, however, as my research shows in retrospect, Gizzard is rather the chewing or gizzard of the Guirra sheep. Then I lack the culinary reference to recognize that. Maybe it’s even a good thing not to be so fluent in Spanish, I think in retrospect. But it doesn’t really matter, because it sounds more abstruse than it actually is, namely an extremely successful plate and the final course of the menu. Separately, there is the classic horchata, a kind of nut milk, based on dried tiger nuts. Here, of course, prepared much finer.

Gizzard guirra sheep and “horchata”

These two outstanding courses then slowly introduce the sweet finale of the menu. What appears at first glance to be another rice dish is in fact cells from the orange fillet. The actually intended as a light spiciness and really finely dosed chili addition triggers me, however, in the first moment a strong cough irritation. Apart from this individual fate, it’s an exciting and technically elaborate course, without overemphasizing the technology.

Orange saffron rice (tickets)

A crispy shell of sweet potato hides a sorbet of tangerine. Crunchy sweet fingerfood. Great!

Sweet potato skin (tickets)

Under a paper-thin chip, the next sweet course features ice cream made from caramelized oven-baked pumpkin. This is also really good, fruity and not too sweet.

Baked pumpkin

Announced as a classic from elBulli, the horchata flower made with Tiger Nut Milk is finally served. Fragile in handling unusual and very intense floral aroma.

“Horchata” flower (tickets)
Petits fours

The collaboration of Luís Valls Rozalén and Albert Adriá has taken us on a journey across the avant-garde cuisine of Spain this evening. Much was good, some courses sensational. And it was precisely where the technology takes a back seat, where the product and preparation come into their own more clearly, that both showed real strengths.

El Poblet

Correos nº8
Phone: (+34) 961 111 106
E-mail: elpoblet@elpobletrestaurante.com

Many thanks to the Valencia Turism Board for the invitation to this press trip and the great organization on site.

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