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
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!!!