Inside HEART Ibiza with Estrella Damm

Posted on 02/10/2017 by Eileen Schuch
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Estrella Damm Heart Ibiza

As we welcome autumn, it is with slight melancholy that I look back at summer and all the wonderful events, trips and encounters that made it particularly memorable this year. The biggest revelation was definitely Ibiza. Before this summer, I have never been and then – suddenly – three times in a row! Maybe this is a sign? In all honesty, Ibiza is one of the places I could see myself living in. It offers everything from beautiful nature, to succulent cuisine and fantastic nightlife. It is also easily accessible from Zurich (with Edelweiss Air, for example) and Geneva (Darwin Airline, former Etihad Regional) for very reasonable prices. In just about 2h you can in find yourself in the heart of the Balearic Island, ready to explore its many facets. The first time I went, it was with Estrella Damm and to explore HEART Ibiza, a new culinary concept by the Adrià brothers.

Ferràn and Albert Adrià teamed up with Guy Laliberté, the founder of Cirque du Soleil, to create what is described as “The biggest show on Earth”. Over ten years of friendship and a common passion for food, music and art unites them. In collaboration with the owners of the Casino of Ibiza and the support of brands like Estrella Damm, they created a unique experience. It started off as a kind of lab that explored and pushed the boundaries of the before mentioned art forms: food and sound, taste and entertainment, art and immersion… the outcome is a highly engaging, multi sensory experience that will stick in your memory for a long time, if not forever.

I already had the pleasure to discover Ferran Adrià’s cuisine before and so I was intrigued to know more about this one of a kind concept that he and his brother Albert imagined together with Cirque de Soleil. What exactly happens when the worlds of gastronomy and entertainment collide? I was very curious to find out.

Arriving at the airport in Ibiza, the weather was hot despite it being late in the evening already. A driver was waiting in the lounge, ready for the transfer to the Jockey Beach Club at Les Salines, one of the best beaches of the island. It was here that Estrella Damm organized a dinner by the beach for us. By the time we got there, the sun was already setting over the Mediterranean Sea coloring the club and the beach in subtle tones of rosé gold. The dinner was splendid: a selection of tapas, each course paired with a beer from the Estrella range. An enormous platter of fresh fruit and a glass of chilled Inedit signaled the end of the meal. As much as we would have enjoyed staying at the beach all night, it was time to drive back to the city and to check in at our hotel, the Ibiza Corso Hotel & Spa. The next day promised to be exciting and full of activities.

Kissed awake by the rising sun and the soft noises coming from the marina, I slowly crawled out of bed, opened the window and there – what a view! It was like a picture postcard coming alive. I soaked in the sun, the fresh smell of the sea and the warmth. A quick Facebook LIVE, room tour, shower and breakfast and it was already time for our first meeting of the day. Not that strenuous I must say because it consisted of heading down to the pool, meet and mingle with the Estrella Team and other invited guests and then enjoying a casual cocktail lunch together. On a Wednesday… I had worse days. A Mediterranean lunch can last well into the afternoon and so we stayed on at the hotel, just chilling by the pool, sipping the occasional Estrella and enjoying the finger food that was served throughout.

In the early evening we transferred to the Ibiza Gran Hotel adjacent to which is the HEART Ibiza club. Before immersing in the adventure that is HEART Ibiza however, a press conference with Ferran Adrià was scheduled. He spoke about the longstanding connection he has with Estrella Damm, evoked his experience at El Bulli and what food, its origin and flavors mean to him. He raised some very interesting questions and addressed some crucial points! I will write up about that in more detail in a next article.

HEART Ibiza blew my mind! It is a melting pot of colors, flavors, animations, and surprising details. Is it a restaurant, is it a circus, or is it a nightclub? In fact, it is all of those things. When we arrived, it was early evening and the premises tinted in the golden colors of the setting sun. At the entry already, it is like walking into a circus with artists pulling the red curtains back to let you enter their universe.

You are greeted with an appetizer in form of a sphere of vodka and raspberry that is served on a rose and that you have to pop in your mouth. The ambiance is very secretive, seductive, very plush, almost boudoir… One of the artists guides you towards a spiral staircase that you have to climb up. As you pass another red curtain, you come across a birdcage – home of one more round of appetizers: looking like a crispy eyeball of Parmesan with a pupil of basil. Further along you find a tree from which you can pick a cherry that is coated in marshmallow and tastes of elderflower.

Then you see “living” pictures. They look quite “normal” from afar but as you walk closer you realize that they are made of real people sitting still and in a pose until you approach. Then they start to move, put their tongue out, sip Estrella, smile and so forth. It’s really quite fun. More and more surprising details unfold on your way up and then you step out on a terrace.

Here, you are immediately pulled in by the brouhaha that reigns. A clown on a mono-wheel drives by and serves you a “blob of sorbet” in half a lime. A beautiful girl in a flamboyant dress and walking on stilts bends down and serves you more of the eccentric nibbles. An Adonis walks towards you with a platter in the form of a bull’s skull carrying carvings of the finest ham. A fire-eater, a knife juggler, and a bellboy being chased by the circus director riding a stick horse… all these are personae you meet on the way. And Ferran Adrià, of course, who enjoys some of his own creations together with guests and who is very approachable. Never seen him say no to a selfie!

The place resembles the food court of a circus. The stream of freshly prepared, surprising dishes seems never ending. If it is not an artist that serves you, you can go to one of the many food stalls and see the dishes being prepared in front of your very eyes. Everything I tasted was outstanding. Only the finest ingredients are used, composed and recomposed into the most astonishing creations. Some surprise by their simplicity, others by their complexity but one thing they all have in common: they are utterly tasty!

An absolute favorite among my crowd were the baby scallops with hoi sin sauce and cilantro oil. The animation I loved the most was a private serenade I got in complete darkness. It took place inside a circus van. When I peaked through the window to find out what was going on there, two artists pulled me inside the van, sat me down and sang “Roxanne” to me.

It is quite hard to try to transcribe everything that happened there. I found a video that travels back in time to summer 2015 and that will give you an idea. But note: both animations and menu change frequently because HEART Ibiza aims to always surprise its guests with something new. Anyway, the video will give you an idea.

The experience on the terrace sets the tone for what comes after, later at night, downstairs in the club. In a word: amazing!

After a fire show, guests were gathered by the circus director and his troupe at the far end of the terrace and then accompanied down to the restaurant. It all happens in a flow as if everything was part of the performance. There is no entr’acte. Guests, artists and waiters are in perpetual motion. Now you go to your table, now you hold a liquid olive sphere in your hand. The spectacle of food and entertainment lasts about three hours. Guests are not mere bystanders, oh no! They are involved, solicited, pulled on stage and thus become an integral part of the show.

After a round of desserts culminating in peanut flavored cotton candy being put in your mouth, the transition to the clubbing part of the experience is seamless. There is no official end to the show, artists start to dance and pull guests on the stage, and some of the waiters and barmen join… the whole crowd in the restaurant suddenly starts to move rhythmically to the sounds of music.

We were dancing along until about 2 am in the morning and then headed over to another club where we finished the night (rather early in the morning). Luckily, the next day, the only thing on the agenda was “chill”. We had time to explore the island a bit before taking the flight back to Zurich.

What an experience, a feast, not only for the palate but also for the mind and soul! A whirlwind of tastes and flavors and impressions and emotions that will forever stay engraved in my heart. Thanks again to Estrella Damm for this once in a lifetime adventure!

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