Luck Be Three Ladies

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One of the world’s top chefs, Ferran Adrià, opened his tapas restaurant Tickets in Barcelona in 2011.

Once again, I stand firm in my position that 2012 is going to be a great year. Last night was a night of absolutely zero expectations, and it turned out to be nothing short of unforgettable. What started out as an early evening drink turned into a world class dining experience and a celebrity chef sighting. What makes it so much more amazing is that all of this simply fell into my lap only hours before. Lucky? I think so.

Ordinarily, a reservation at Tickets requires months of advanced planning. After all, it is the brain child of world renown chef Ferran Adrià of El Bulli. In short, this is a big deal. To give you an idea, he is the only chef in the world whose Michelin star restaurant has been ranked the world’s best 5 times. The waiting list for El Bulli (though no longer open) was quite literally years long. Tickets, though no El Bulli, can be just as difficult to get on the list. So, adding one more to a reservation just for two was a shot in the dark. But to our surprise, luck was on our side and the next thing we knew we were seated with a front row view of the magic happening in the kitchen!

The dining experience was a culinary masterpiece. The menu was brief but packed with unmatched creativity and chalked full of surprises. The presentation of dishes can only be described as perfection and the flavors and textures were bewildering. Nothing was what it seemed. The olives, a signature dish of El Bulli, were not olives at all but instead a congealed olive puré in oval form and filled with top quality olive oil. The result? An explosion of flavor that tastes just like an olive. Pure genius. This is only one example of the assorted surprises just waiting to be experienced, but the biggest surprise of all could not have been ordered off the menu.

The famous “olives” of El Bulli

“It’s Spring Break, baby!” is what Melissa heard when she glanced up to find the kitchen staff welcoming none other than world famous chef Mario Batali. We couldn’t believe it. We had hit the jackpot! Suddenly, the energy shifted in the already buzzing restaurant, and when Mario and his family were seated at the table behind us (right behind us!), the kitchen staff were performing to impress. This was not just another Saturday night at Tickets. We stole glances when we could, but Dawn couldn’t help herself and opened a conversation with him about the book Heat. We had been talking about the book but the author’s name had escaped her. She decided to straight to the source! In addition to the author’s name (Bill Buford), we learned that he and his family had just arrived that morning, they had lunch at the Boqueria and enjoyed the blood sausage there (his son’s choice), and this was their first time at Tickets. We even learned that he’s an American School of Madrid alum! He must have appreciated something about us, because once the cotton candy tree for desert was served, he treated us to a cotton puff!

“This is for you, ladies!”
The Cotton Candy Tree and Mario Batali

 No, we didn’t get a picture with Mario, but the experience was enough to satisfy me. Like I said, I had no expectations beyond spending a pleasant evening with two of my best friends. I’m not sure I’ll even entertain the idea of returning to Tickets. First impressions are everything. I don’t need further convincing.

Three Lucky Ladies

Tickets Bar

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