I had to post these photos. I am back in Oz now have been busy as anything having flown into Sydney Thursday morning from London and then back out to Adelaide for the Good Food & Wine Show. I got back on Monday and straight into the book tour with George for "Your Place Or Mine" We were in Brisbane yesterday for the day and now I am getting ready to go to Perth for series 3 MasterChef auditions! Boom Boom shake the room.
Anyway back to the pictures. Lunch at Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain has to be my all time favourite meals, absolutely amazing. Five hours and 15 courses later I don't think I could be any happier with my life.
We left San Sebastian at 12 noon planning on a 45 minute drive out to the restaurant. The website recommends leaving plenty of time to drive as the restaurant maybe hard to find. A local source said 20 minutes or there abouts should be fine. 1 1/2 hours later and we rock up in the car park slightly frazzled but determined to have a fantastic lunch.
The restaurant manager seemed to be used to tourists getting lost!
Our first course was a a little waxy potato baked in a fine layer of edible clay, it looks just like a little rock or pebble. Break it open dip it into a roasted garlic aioli and ---- hello! Welcome to Mugaritz!
We settled on a 12 course menu, no allergies or dislikes so we were in the capable hands of the kitchen.
The first thing that strikes you about Mugaritz is the staff, cool, calm, unflappable, warm and hospitable. The second is the distance between tables, you can only just hear the murmur from the nearest table. You are an Island in the nicest kind of way - special - your every whim taken care of.
OK - this wasn't the first course, but I ate that and forgot completely to take a picture of it. This was however one of the best dishes I have tasted this year. Pigs tail, langoustine and crisp Iberico ham. The skin was like glass and pork melted in your mouth. The langoustine was opaque and full of flavour and the broth slightly sticky.
Salad of baby vegetables and herbs - served warm and cold
A confit of tomato baked in a second skin so that the inside intensifies and collapses. Roasty, jammy and full of flavour.
This fish dish was cooked to perfection and for me so typical of the cooking at Mugaritz. So clean, natural, a celebration of the ingredients. The trickery if there is any is disguised by the clever almost irreverent use of the best ingredients. The fish was just opaque cooked slowly at low temperature and stuffed with amaranth. The carrots were so tiny it would be wrong to describe them as juvenile.
Sweet potato cooked in a second skin with rocket and a dressing of goats cheese. Deceptively simple, intense and delicious.
Crab and bread broth. Sticky broth and silken strands of delicate crab. I can only guess at the work that went into this beautiful dish. It was gone all to quickly.
I loved this dish - skate wing with flavours of Iberico Ham. The clever bit was that it had been rolled so the filaments of the skate wing ran length ways. It sat in a bowl of sticky juices and dusted with what I imagine to be dehydrated and powdered jamon. It meant you could tease the delicate strands of barely cooked skate out with your fork like spaghetti. Nice!
A frozen cleansing sherbet covered and bitter chocolate surprise but most surprising was the crunchy texture used in the chocolate - tiny florets of cauliflower. It worked on so many levels.
Textures of malt
Mandy's favourite, an espumas of frozen milk ice cream with candied and chocolate walnuts. The ice cream was so simple the natural sweetness from the pure milk was delightful. The chocolate walnuts once broken contained a gorgeous liqueur jelly - give me more!
A very happy Gary post lunch - using the Mugaritz sign to hold himself up! At this point a couple of chefs came wondering out of the woods carrying a basket of chestnuts - a little shopping for dinner service I resume.
We had what can only be described as one of the best meals of our lives. It was at odds with the lunch I had at the Fat Duck because the experience was so different. The respect that the chefs have for the ingredients, the principles and techniques admirable. This food doesn't show off, it doesn't pretend to be something its not, what I found so refreshing was it was a celebration of beautiful ingredients.