My Mugaritz Moment – Basque Country

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Travelling through the Basque Country without a visit to one of its’ famous Michelin starred new Basque cuisine restaurants? Well, I actually thought so, because I did not make it in time to book a table at Arzak and I reckoned that Mugaritz would be the same. But!  A very last minute reservation got us a table at the restaurant of chef Andoni Luis Aduriz hidden in the hills behind San Sebastian, who takes simple fresh local produce and creates small gems on your plate. Before going I considered not eating anything 24 hours before and then to bombard my senses with the full Mugaritz-blow. You might have heard that fasting in San Sebastian is an absolutely ridiculous idea, so naturally it stayed with the thought.

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“Sandwich” of cheese and herbs. Who needs bread when you can use cheese instead!?P1030351

Macaron of pork blood and foie gras. My first thought was “Maltesers”, for the sweet and malty taste but ok, eggs can be replaced with blood…

P1030358One of my favourites of the night: oregano tempura. Crunchy yet chewy, strong flavour yet not a herb that leaves you senseless for the rest of the menu.
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Lobster parade

P1030362Ramón Perisé in the kitchen telling me about a fish that still has its’ spine. “Espinoso”, meaning full of bones, spiny and also difficult! Very crunchy with a wonderful chili-aioli filling. My favourite dish!

And no, I am not special. All guests are asked out into the kitchen to have a quick view. But these guys are special: they work very hard in the kitchen and in the restaurant, yet they seem totally relaxed and they are so sweet and welcoming to everyone. Chapeau!

P1030367 Ramón, Joserra Calvo and the travelling TruffleDog.P1030360

Not blood this time. Ice shreds and shrimp jus poured over

P1030368Lobster flesh and fermented rice. Strange kind of nigiri.

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Something precious introduced with a game. Who would win the caviar? We shared…

P1030381Egg yolks are the new black. But put an egg yolk in my sea anemone and I am full. I begged for a break in the menu. They gave me five minutes. Say ‘sea anemone’ with a Spanish accent and it sounds like ‘sea animal’. We were confused: which of them?

P1030386Pretty pretty sauce! White tuna, white almonds and dark and shiny marmitako sauce.

P1030390Turbot and roe, neat little package but please another break! They gave me four minutes.

P1030391P1030393Lamb and mushrooms  – too pretty to be true.

P1030411Pure chocolate perfection, one of many desserts.

What a cool place, Mugaritz. I am inspired and I can see other chefs have felt the same way. Crazy stuff!

But some things got lost in translation that evening. There was the lack of breaks in the menu even though I asked for it. Didn’t they like me and did they want to have me out of there fast?! Also we did not really understand each other when we asked for wine by the glass as my fiancé was driving. He wanted max. two glasses but matched with the length of the menu. They poured him two big glasses right away so he did not get to taste any red wine. I was sitting with an empty glass throughout one of the main courses. Long faces!

What a relaxing and wonderful place, San Sebastian. Mugaritz is an extra treat, do it!

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