Friday, November 08, 2013

The Mugaritz Experience

We're not stopping with just one dining experience.  No way.  This trip was designed to be epic.  The schedule for the following day: Continuing my mom's birthday with dinner at Mugaritz.

The morning of this meal, we actually called the restaurant to request moving our dining time to lunch.  We had toured San Sebastian as extensively as we intended, so we were ready to drive out to the countryside and eat another highly anticipated meal.  Fortunately, they easily accommodated our request.

If you're driving, lunch is actually a better option because of the dark roads at night.  Plus, you can enjoy the outdoor setting that surrounds the restaurant while letting the wear off the alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

Mugaritz is a true dining experience in every way.  Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz has more than earned its spot in the world's top lists.  The food showcases nature's ingredients and its seasonality with every bite full of emotion, ingenuity, and execution.  The service is phenomenal, too - Spaniards have such charm.  There's absolutely no stiffness.  You enjoy fine dining, and yet you feel like a VIP at home.  The Mugaritz experience is all about the journey that brings the food towards exceptional and perfection.

Mugaritz Tasting Menu
20+ course tasting menu.  You have a choice whether you want to keep the menu closed and have a surprise for every course, or you want to read the courses and anticipate its arrival based on the title and description.

The Parking Lot and Property
Set in the countryside, making it a true destination dining experience.

Herb Garden
Not just for display either.  The chefs are seen throughout the day going out to cut fresh herbs to use for the day's menu. 

The Dining Room
Basic and bare bones.  It's all about the food and the dining experience.  No frills to it.

Fried herbs from the garden with clashing aromas
Chive, with its flowers fried.  So simple, yet the detail of intricately frying the little flowers is so complex.  And, wow, what an explosion of flavors and textures.  What a start, and what a way to get your palate and your mind excited for the next 19+ courses.

Smoked toast, 100% lobster
Everything, except the rock plating, is 100% lobster - even this simple looking cracker that's light, crispy, and paper thing.

Grilled toast of bone marrow with herbs and horseradish ash
And here's this little bite of decadence.  Bone marrow on toast goes down so smooth and silky.

Edible stones
On "dirt"

With aioli
To dip the stones in

Because the stones are actually baked potatoes!  It's as heavy as a stone, but it won't crack your teeth.  Ah, so many brilliant bites in this menu and in this chef's head.

Stew of weeds and crisp potatoes.  A clean bite of the fresh season.

Blanched morning glory and dark seeds powder
I'm a huge fan of green vegetables.  So this was actually great to have as some ruffage.

Kitchen Tour!
Ahhh, what a fun treat!  A behind the scenes where you to meet and listen to the chefs in action and learn more about the Mugaritz process.

Morcilla Foie Gras Macaron.
I needed a nap after this meal because my mind would not stop exploding.  So much genius in every detail.

Our maitre de's selfie on my phone.  Loved him!

Cold peach and razor clams
Refreshingly cold with razor clams so fresh it's like your eating it from the boat that caught them.

"Bloody Mary" tomato
I love bloody marys and I love heirloom tomatoes.  This was an automatic win for me.

Poultry Royale, game of Astragals Royale
Game time!  We were given these instructions and a bag to play a game within our table.  

Winner winner, caviar dinner
And the winner gets the caviar!

Grilled steak "tartar" with roe of bream
I'm usually not a fan of meat tartar.  But this is Mugaritz - I completely trust the kitchen preparation.  

We were given the choice if we wanted bread or not.  And if you do, it's given at this point of the meal so you don't get too full for all the courses.  It comes hot out of the oven and in this napkins keeping the slice warm.

Threads of crab with vegetable mucilage, macadamias, and pink peppercorns
A delicate course to appreciate the fine threads of this fresh crab.

Grilled squid with onion
Perfectly cooked squid with sheets of squid ink.

Loin of Hake, tiger nut starch and concentrated clam juice
A progression from the lighter courses.  Delicate flavors balanced this cut of cod.

Red mullet in a butter of its own liver.  Almonds and bread.
My favorite of the fish courses because of that liver butter and almond/bread crusting.  

Sweetbread of suckling lamb with seasonal mushrooms
Topped with garlic flowers.  Flavored full of Chinese inspiration.  The garlic flowers surprised me most with its potency and freshness.

Sheets of "entrecula", grilled steak emulsion and salt crystals
It looks perfectly medium rare.  And it is, but it doesn't bleed out, and it holds that juiciness and flavor of a more cooked meat.  Exceptional.

Preparing our first dessert
"Baking" the cake and brushing off the hot ashes from the grill.

Iced rye cream with aged toffee
A fun, light start to dessert.

Moving from the dining room to the outdoor area
A wonderful idea for destination dining.  It's a long afternoon or evening of eating - so it's great to stand up and have a change of scenery.

To enjoy our dessert courses and coffee

Frozen almond turron
I love all three words individually.  Put together here, it's even better.

Native cocoa and salted Mexican peppermint
The most sophisticated Andes mint chocolate

Roasted Peach and "Rock tea"
The fruit course.  The peach was so full of flavor from the roasting.

Mocha in its lightest version

Wafers.  This was the favorite of all the dessert.  I wanted a box of these - like a big Filipino Balikbayan box of these.

Presenting my mom's birthday cake
It came with a story - the kitchen staff prepared my mom a cake and enjoyed it as well

So this was the leftover.
Haha!  So fun and funny!

And for the grand finale
The 7 Deadly Sins in the form of dessert. 

Four gold covered chocolates.

Chocolate coins

Spicy marshmallows

Hazelnuts covered in chocolate truffle.  And a lot of them.

Get it?!

Strawberry chocolate syrup

Dense, candied fruits

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