Mugaritz Restaurant, near San Sebastian, Basque Country

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This is a long due review of my visit to Mugaritz in June 2010. Mugaritz is listed as number 5 in San Pelegrino’s “The Top 50 Restaurants of the World”. Michelin’s Guide Rouge has awarded him two stars for the last 7 years. Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz is considered to be one of the most exciting new chefs in the world. I had the pleasure of visiting Mugaritz in 2003 for the first time, and I returned in 2010. Originally, the date was set for February, but a mishap prevented me from going. When I called a few days later to reschedule, Amaia (the ever gentle lady in charge of bookings) told me that a fire had destroyed the kitchen and the restaurant would re-open in June.

The entrance to the restaurant is the entrance of a farm turned restaurant. Idyllic and calming. It is difficult to find without a navigator, but it is worth the try.

“I was about to remark that farm-to-table cuisine is nothing new to Americans when a waiter placed two stark white bowls on the table. One held a smooth garlic aioli for dipping; the other contained purplish-white orbs that resembled rarefied Japanese stones. These were Aduriz’s famous potatoes, which he’d spent a year researching and perfecting with his pharmacist sister, using a nutrient-rich, edible white clay called kaolin. To obtain the fantastical result, Aduriz dips little boiled Basque spuds in a mix of kaolin and lactose—which makes the coating smooth—then dries them at low heat until a brittle coating forms. Aduriz serves the potatoes in a bowl, among real stones. When I bit into one, the eggshell-thin casing dissolved into the sweet, meltingly tender flesh. I could see what Aduriz meant about luxury.”

Source: Anya von Bremzen

Clay Potatoes with Aioli (photo by "summer of innocence")

The clay potatoes as described by Anya were served in a smoking area outside the main restaurant, and I did not have my camera with me. I could not have believed that such a sumptuous aromatic taste would come from a potato! This is one of the reasons why one should visit Mugaritz. Because you visit the realm “beyond”.

Artichokes sliced paper thin, dressed in Iberian ham fat. Very subtle, and aromatic dish. Its key feature  though is the texture, as the artichoke is practically raw, and therefore crunchy. One of the challenges of the dish for me was that I am used to have artichokes with lemon, and I was thinking lemon while eating it!

“RAZOR CLAMS flavoured with a rich black bean broth, perfumed with cinnamon oil. SWEET BLACK BEANS.”

I come from the school of serving the razor clams grilled with parsley and garlic. To have them like that, swimming in a sweet broth, was a big change. Eventually, I came to like it.

“Over a gelatinous pine nut cream, GLUTINOUS COD FISH and mastic resin.”

This was a really challenging dish, as it combined the belly of the cod with pine nut cream and masticha, the resin from the mastic tree on the island of Chios. Again, Aduriz turned things upside down, serving the gelatinous flesh with a sweet aromatic dressing. It worked quite well though, and it made me feel proud, because masticha comes only from Greece. There is no other place in the world where this tree grows.

Salsifi cooked in the calcium oxide to produce a self pureeing vegetable.

I had no idea what salsify is, but it turned out to be a tuber/root that grows in the sea. I really loved the texture of this thing. Slightly chewy and tough on the outside like the skin of a roasted Japanese sweet potato (this texture reallyexcites me), the inside remained moist and firm but giving. Subtly sweet, it was accompanied by some briny cod roe that exploded with flavour and a sprig of spring onion.”

Source: A Summer of Innocence

“MEGRIM STUFFED WITH VEGETABLE PEARLS and pickled herbs. Small sautéed carrots.”

Megrim is a type of sole fish. It was juicy, firm, tasty. I loved the baby carrots.

“SKATE FILAMENTS bounded in toasted butter glace, Iberian mild sheen.”

The skate worked perfectly with the butter.

“LOIN OF DUCK. Served with iodized compliments; crumblings and shavings of summer truffle.”

This was a minimalist dish, bringing forward the taste of the duck and in the background the subtle truffle.

Braised pork shoulder with garlic. The pork is braised at a temperature of 65 degrees Centigrade, so that haemoglobin does not coagulate and the meat does not turn brown. The garlic was crunchy and mighty. I even ate the flowers!!!

“Tradition, ocean and land: braised IBERIAN PORK TAILS AND PAN FRIED LANGUOSTINES. Reduced braising juices
infused with Iberian “jamón”.” For this dish I posted a short note back in June. I think this is the dish I will ask to eat before my departure from this vain world.
“SELECTION OF EUSKAL HERRIA CHEESE. Artisanal ewe, cow or goats milk cheeses; abbey, monastery and farmhouse
cheeses; mountain and meadow cheeses…”
There is something about cheese in the Basque country, they manage to produce everything and everything is delicious!!! I sound like a primitive being, but the simple truth is this. This stuff is so good, that I cannot ever have a proper Basque meal without cheese.
Broken walnuts with cool milk cream and Armagnac jelly.Although I am not a friend of sweets, especially after my glorious cheese plate, I really enjoyed this creation, which fooled me, as I thought that the walnut shells were real. They were not!!!! They were made of chocolate.

The Wine: Mendraka, a Txakoli from the Basque Country. This steady friend of a wine, kept me going throughout the meal. Txakoli is a perfect second violin to the glorious cuisine of the Basque country!

The double face of experience.And at the end time for philosophizing. These two cards were laid on the table at the beginning, but I present them at the end. They present the two sides of the 150 minute experience.

The Threat
The Opportunity
Au revoir Mugaritz!!!


12 COMMENTS

  1. Ε τι να σου πω τωρα! ΤΙ ΝΑ ΣΟΥ ΠΩ! Τι φανταστικο μερος ειναι αυτο! Παντως σε κατι ερημιες βρισκεις τα καλυτερα! Δεν υπαρχει πιατο που να μη θελω να το δοκιμασω. Ασε που ξετρελλαθηκα με την παρουσιαση των τυριων! Δεν εχω λογια σοβαρα σου μιλαω. Σημερα συνεβαλες ωστε η Κυριακη μου να ειναι ενδιαφερουσα! Συνεχισε να μας φερνεις τετοια! Καλη εβδομαδα σε σενα και σε ολο το ατελιε.

    • δεσποιναριον!!!!! η γλωσσα δεν δυναται να αποδωσει το μεγαλειο της εμπειριας!!! οσο για τα τυρια, και μονο γι αυτα αξιζει το ταξιδι, παρολο που ειμαι βεβαιος οτι θα βρεις και μυριαδα αλλων πειρασμων στη χωρα των βασκων και την κουζινα του Αντουριθ!!!!

  2. Τέλειο φαίνεται το Mugaritz! Το έχω άχτι γιατί πέρισυ που είχα πάει στη χώρα των Βάσκων είχε καεί ολοσχερώς.
    Γιατί είναι ακόμα στα 2 αστέρια άραγε;

    • Αγαπητε Θαλη,
      Καλως ηλθες.
      Η απαντηση στο αυτο-ερωτημα σου ειναι απλη. Με την πρωτη ευκαιρια, αεροπλανακι και ….

  3. “One of the challenges of the dish for me was that I am used to have artichokes with lemon, and I was thinking lemon while eating it!”

    Η πτώση προυπόθεση της εκ-πτωσης

    Μα η ανάμνηση της πτώσης στοίχιωμα της ελευθερίας

    • Μανωλη μου, με μπερδευεις με τα ευστοχα σχολια σου.
      Εγω γευτηκα αυτο που λεμε βιοι παραλληλοι σε γαστρονομικο επιπεδο.
      Σκεφτομουνα ασυνειδητα λεμονι ενω γευομουνα την ωμη αγκιναρα με το χαμον.
      Τα δυο αλογα ετρεχαν διπλα διπλα και εγω ιππευα το ξινο.
      Στη διαρκεια της γευστικης εμπειριας, σα να αλλαξα αλογο, και επηδησα στο ατι που ετρεχε διπλα μου φπρτωμενο με ενα χαμον ιμπερικο, και μου εκλεινε το ματι.
      Τα λοιπα τα αφηνω σε εσενα.

  4. Έρχομαι να σας συγχαρώ για το βραβείο Όσκαρ που μόλις παραλάβατε από το Δεσποινάριον!
    Viva Mugaritz!
    Viva Dottore!
    Au revoir atelier!

    • Η πατριωτικη σας θερμη αγαπητη Ρουλα με συγκινει. Τι ειναι εξ αλλου το ατελιε παρα και αυτο ενα κομματι της προσωπικης πατριδας; Ανταποδιοω και γω λοιπν με ενα στιχο απο ενα τραγουδακι:
      “εβιβα ρεμπετες, εβιβα παιδια
      μεσα στην ομορφη τουτη βραδεια”

  5. Thanks! This is the review I was looking for: I am having headaches chosing the one upscale fine dining restaurant I want to book in San Sebastian for an upcoming visit there (short visit, so I need to chose just one high end restaurant). In between Martin Berasategui, Akelarre and Mugaritz, I could not decide over which one to pick. This fresh review of Mugaritz will be very helpful for my decision. Great post!

    • εχετε λοιπον ισχυροτατο κινητρο για να κινησετε τα αοπισθια σας και να επισκεφθειτε τον αντονι!

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