Friday, June 8, 2018

Mugaritz, San Sebastian

Mugaritz, San Sebastian, 5/19/2018 (€204, 24-Course, incl. VAT)

Mugaritz is located in two towns. It has a beautifully landscaped courtyard with a large tree right on the borderline of 2 towns Muga and Haritza. Hence, the partial combination of each name of the 2 towns became Mugaritz.

Tasting menu started serving in the courtyard because it was a cool and beautiful day. However, needed a jacket on.

1st Course - Lemon Pith and Tart Cream

Citrus lemon, lemon albedo. In fleshy fruits, pericarp is made of 3 layers – outermost (epicarp) layer, middle layer (mesocarp) and inner layer (endocarp). In citrus fruits, mesocarp usually is referred to as albedo or pith. It is the pulp and in white color, often has a bit bitter taste, although it contains a lot of vitamins and nutrition. Preparation for this course started by soaking the white lemon pulp in limestone water, then adding pectin to form a thin layer of gel. Pectin can be extracted from fruits (especially skin) such as apples, pears, plums, oranges, etc. Pectin is beneficial to health if taken in moderate quantity, it benefits body’s detoxifying capabilities. This pectin-treated lemon pulp no longer looked like a citrus and was served with cream of garlic and topped with micro green. The presentation is simple and beautiful. It did not have any citrus taste.

2nd Course - Milk Crystals

Crisp made from milk, cream of milk and herb.

3rd Course -  Fresh Garlic and Flowers

Fresh and crisp garlic heart, garlic oil and Chinese chive. Fresh garlic heart from its own garden was crispy and sweet.

4th Course - Lettuce Stem, Heart of Lettuce, Liquid of Lettuce

Heart of lettuce was served with reduced lettuce juice.

5th Course - Perretxiko and Mycorrhiza - Summer Truffle with Cream of Mushroom

Summer truffles were sandwiched with cream of St. George’s mushroom and topped with mushroom powder. St. George’s mushroom is available only in April and early May.

After these 5 courses of bite-size appetizers, I was escorted to the dining room.

6th Course - Hake Granité, Garlic Cream 

Frozen hake with cream of garlic, served in a white handkerchief. This is a signature dish.

7th Course - Kiss of a Yolk

Spider crab with (orange color) soy sauce and cream fraiche.

8th Course - Roe, Egg, Roe

Mullet roe combined as a base, marinated with sugar and salt, top by caviar, cured egg yolk sauce. Asturian caviar from France was used in this plate.

9th Course - A pouch of Eggs

Roe of lobster.

10th Course - Cured Sirloin

Basque thinly slice sirloin fermented with yeast from red tea kombucha. After 4-5 days it was coated with white powder looking penicillin. At serving, beef tartar was mixed with olive oil, caper, mustard, Worcester sauce, and stuffed in the penicillin coated beef shell. Sliced beef was sprinkled with penicillin fungus, after 4-5 days it will grow white powdery stuff which is penicillin. If you notice drops of caper water was sitting on top of the penicillin covered shell instead being absolved into the shell. I inquired my server whether the restaurant consulted medical expert regarding serving penicillin as the end product of a course. In terms of creativity, this was certainly the most creative dish that I have ever had.

My server offered me for a tour of the kitchen. Its kitchen was departmentalized with each defined area designated for one particular type of dish such as meat, appetizer, fish and desserts, etc. I was offered a special edible gorgeous purple flower from local. It was a very pleasant visit.

11th Course - Vis-à-vis

Sliced garlic and razor clams were sliced the same way (look alike - vis-a-vis). It was served in almond milk and chive. A very pleasant dish.

12th Course - Banana and Sea Urchin

I noticed sea urchin was missing from the plate. I was informed, at this very last minute, by the server, it was not the season of sea urchin. But, why restaurant still kept the incorrect description on the menu. To resolve the issue of unavailability of sea urchin, the restaurant used bone marrow instead. Banana was fermented and then fried, it was greasy, I had to ask for hot water to wash down the grease from my stomach.

13th Course - Cauliflower and Octopus  

Pickled cauliflower pretended to look like octopus and served Basque cheese which tasted like Parmigiana.

14th Course - Hake with Asparagus and Sake

1). Hake was cooked with sea cucumber. This is a signature dish.

2). White asparagus water was fermented by Viili and turned into house-made Sake and accompanied by real Sake. Viili is the type of yeast used by the Nordic countries to make yogurt. Each guest was provided with a glass of Sake to compare with the house made sake.

15th Course - Iodized Crackling

Galicia oyster with crumbled Iberian ham and tomato sauce. This is a signature dish.

16th Course - Grilled Fish and Beef Essence

Cod grilled, then adding pepper, beef fat and broiled again with cod fish concentrate cream served on the side.

17th Course - Garum Marinade and Grouper

Garum is a 2000-year old practice in Europe, made with fish that has fermented in the heat of the Mediterranean sun. It used salt, herb and small fish, thoroughly washed and drained, but whole. After it is fermented, squeezed out juice and used the juice to marinate. Grouper was marinated by this juice and prepared one side caramelized and the other side raw. This is a signature dish. This was my favorite dish at this meal.

18th Course - Onion Soup

Onion looked cooked but was not cooked. Yet, it was softened by pectin, enzyme. It had neither the smell nor the taste of onion or onion soup. It was served with chicken broth and cheese sauce. I had one bite and realized that I really did not like the taste of enzyme. This is a signature dish.

19th Course - Acorn pil-pil

Pork skin and tendon juice concentrate, it was almost like jelly with bits of pork and pork tendon. This is a signature dish.

20th Course - Bone Marrow from 2 Montaneras and Several Years.

4-year-old ham bone marrow. The aged bone marrow had a more sophisticated taste than the ordinary bone marrow. This is a signature dish.

21st Course - Pine Nut Cream and Roasted Brioche

Pine nut and pork blood hash.

The 20th and 21st courses were accompanied by a 1/2 glass of 11-year-old Port specially made for Mugaritz in 2007. 

22nd Course - Puffed lamb

Lamb in different forms, tartar on pastry puff with Zanahoria Silverstre flower grown in Mugaritz’s garden and roasted lamb on another form of pastry covered by lamb sauce.

23rd Course - Sweet Fry

Pork ham and trotter fried in sugar. It is a new usage of sugar, named Manital sugar, for gastronomy. Since Manital sugar can stand high boiling point up to 160 degrees, Chefs can fry food in sugar instead of oil. Manital is a sugar alcohol, it is very useful for diabetics. Despite its name it contains no alcohol and it does not absorb moisture from the atmosphere, therefore, very suitable as a hard coating for candy. This piece of pork looked like a fried dough coated in sugar.

Chef at Mugaritz certainly was certainly very innovative in creating new culinary cooking methods and technique.

24th Course - Pear and Ice Wine

Pear was cooked in cinnamon, cardamom, sugar and then frozen at -8 degrees like the temperature required for making ice wine. A ½ glass of Italian ice wine was served on the side. Each guest was encouraged to compare the similarity and difference between these 2 products made in the similar conditions. They both were refreshing and were my preferred type of dessert.

25th Course – Colostrum and Caviar

Colostrum is the 1st milk of a mammal, it was very rich and nutritious. In other words, its viscosity was so dense and thick, no longer in liquid form. It tasted almost like soft cheese cake. It was served with Asturian caviar from France.

26th Course – Chocolate

Chocolate of various content of cacao - 99%, 85%, 73%, 72%, 71%, 70%, and 66%. They were all dark chocolate and some a bit bitter sweet.

Mugaritz has a beautifully landscaped garden with sculptures. It has a garden to grow some of the herbs served to the customers. It is also ultra-creative, always aesthetically oriented with cool and beautiful presentation and most of all involved novelty. Its level and extent of creativity was similar to Noma’s. It had more focus, beyond the molecular gastronomy, on the different way of preparing food, on different usage of the ingredients, on presentation and on being innovative. In other words, their innovation was done more from a creative point of view instead of from the taste and flavor side of gastronomy.

on presentation and on being innovative than on the taste and flavor side of gastronomy.

Even though Berasategui’s menu price is €260/14 courses and Mugaritz’s is €204/26 courses, at Mugaritz portion was smaller for each course, approximately 1/3 – 1/4 of what served at Berasategui. Comparing with meal at Martin Berasategui, Mugaritz’s is completely in different style and has different theme.

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