Our journey of culinary blogging reached its ultimate peak when we dined at Enigma located at the magnificent Palazzo Versace Hotel. When you’re a restaurant that’s nestled in a hotel like Palazzo Versace, the repute of the restaurant instantly gets enriched. However in this case, it’s the concept of Enigma, a first of its kind in the world, that enhances the reputation of the hotel instead. That’s how gratifying and enriching our dining experience was at Enigma, and for everyone else who has dined here.
The concept of Enigma is the first of its kind not just in Dubai, but of the entire world as well. A concept, that tingles and enlightens all your senses to bring you the best from the best. Over the course of a year, four untold stories are unfolded at Enigma that last for a limited time only (3 months to be precise) and each story is represented and narrated by a chef from one of the world’s 50 finest restaurants through impeccable and extraordinary dishes.
We were honored to witness the untold story of “Vanguard” by Part Chef, Part Botanist Quique Dacosta who is the owner of the eponymous 3 Michelin star restaurant in Dénia, Alicante. The story of Vanguard is to depict a place where novel experiences are forged and where taste and texture are foremost, a place where the perfect ingredient is the key to a culinary experience like no other. More importantly however, Vanguard is depicted to push boundaries of what is accepted as a norm and to lead the way to new developments and ideas through skillfully crafting new masterpieces that change perceptions.
Before we begin our in-depth elaboration of our gastronomically satisfying experience at Enigma, its important to know that the intention of Enigma is that the entire dining experience comes as a surprise. Hence, no menus are presented and you are anxiously waiting for what each course unfolds. Therefore, we’re indirectly trying to tell you that our post could be considered as a “spoiler alert” to the story of Vanguard.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s begin narrating the gastronomical story of Vanguard.
As we entered Enigma, we noticed that the decor was minimal. With regular wooden tables and chairs, a small center piece and nothing too flashy or elaborate. We instantly knew that our dinner is going to be an enchanting “culinary performance” where the food is going to be the main focus.
Our dinner comprised of a 11 course menu of edible art, where the first four courses were presented together on our table. These four courses were absolutely deceiving to the eye, in the sense that they didn’t look like food and left us speechless.
– Our first course was “Rocks” which was Parmesan and Cream Cheese coated with Cocoa Butter and Black Truffle made to look exactly like a rock. The flavor was strong and packed with a rich salty flavor from the cheese. The cocoa butter was thin and hard and cracked perfectly as we bit into it, thus giving a good textural element as well.
– Next was the “Rose” which was an individual rose presented in a small vase. The rose itself wasn’t edible, however stuffed between the petals was thinly sliced Apples marinated in Grenadine and Pomegranate Vinaigrette to give you the effect of eating petals. Loved tangy juicy flavor of the marinate as we bit into it. A beautifully executed dish!
– For our third course we had Edible Charcoal made from Egg Whites and Squid Ink with a dipping sauce made from Cod fish and a variety of tomatoes. The charcoal had an amazing texture of being extremely crunchy as we bit into it, and then it suddenly dissolves in your mouth. The flavor of the dipping sauce is strong in flavor too. The charcoal and dipping sauce was served on a small barbecue pit with smoke essence emitting from it to give you that barbecue experience.
– The fourth course was a beautifully presented selected of two kinds of Crisps. One was made from seaweed and garlic and the other was with tomato powder. Both these crisps were served on a bed of toasted panko crumbs to give the effect of “sand”. Definite attention to detail at its peak right here.
– Once we were done with our first four courses, the upcoming courses were presented individually. Our fifth course was a “Stone” that is an appetizer dish of octopus with kimchi and mayonnaise with foam made from the octopus water. Looks can definitely be deceiving. We were expecting the outer surface of this dish to be hard like a “stone”. However it was extremely soft and creamy. We loved the generous serving of octopus and flavor of kimchi that added subtle heat to the dish.
– Our sixth course was an illustration of aesthetic appeal at its peak. The experience was called “Foggy Forest” and to enhance it, an oasis arrangement was placed at the center of our table to give us the feeling of being in a forest. The dry ice added a beautiful and mystical theatrical effect as we tucked into our dish which symbolized different elements of the forest. The components of the dish included soil made from panko crumb, parmesan cheese that was frozen thus adding a brilliant temperature variation with every bite, micro herbs and mushrooms, crisps made from cep mushroom, mint foam and black truffle shavings that were shaved at the table.
– Our seventh course was a beautiful looking dish of “Foie gras with Elder Flower”. This recipe was made 15 years ago and left unmodified ever since. This dish comprised of creamy and rich Foie gras at the bottom, Elderflower jelly to top, and garnished with lychee sorbet and elderflower meringue. The lychee sorbet added a nice cooling sensation as we bit into it and complemented the foie gras perfect. This dish is also served with a soft and fluffy brioche bun that tastes perfect with the foie gras.
– Our eight course was a work of art to say the least. The dish comprised of carefully presented King prawns garnished with aioli, chili and prawn paste, chilli sponge, tempura baby prawns, baby potatoes and leeks. The component of each ingredient was vital to complement each other perfectly to give us delectable flavors and textures.
– Once we were done with our eighth course, the entire room blacked out, and men with masks (who seemed very spooky and mystical) entered the room with our Amuse Bouches that were brightly lit up. The amuse bouche was inspired by the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany”, a movie the chef admired a lot and hence the amuse bouche was presented on a cluster of diamonds. Placed over the cluster of diamonds was an apple meringue with lemon sorbet, crunchy apple and hint of rose.
– Our ninth course was Inspired by the Rice Harvest in Valencia where the rice fields were burned and underneath the ashes, rice was found. Hence the name “Rice in ash”. The ash is made from black and white truffle and the rice was cooked with squab that was extremely tender.
– Our tenth course was the “Golden dessert” inspired by the Gold Souq in Dubai. The gold pipe is made from caramel and golden powder and stuffed with lemon cream. Absolutely delicious dessert that was not to tart in flavor and showcased superior cooking techniques.
– Finally, our last course was a dessert that (if we’re not mistaken) is called the Pina Pino , that looked like a chocolate pinecone. Filled with Madagascar vanilla ice cream that was semi solid, almost liquid in consistency that melted in our mouths as we bit into it.
This experience was definitely a first of its kind for us; a dining experience that surpasses all others. Lets just say, we cannot wait for Stockholm Chef Bjorn Frantzen to step foot into Enigma on 20th April to wow us all over again!