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Mugaritz

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World’s 50 Best
3rd 2012
Month of Review: Apr 2011

Tucked away in the dense oak woodlands on a hill in the outskirts of San Sebastian, the contemporary but rustic farmhouse of Mugaritz echoes Adoni Aduriz’ ethos of cooking, that nothing is quite as it seems. It would be incorrect to define Aduriz’ cuisine as being purely molecular as he combines his skills with an appreciation and focus on fresh seasonal local produce, something which the Basque has in abundance and that many chefs could only dream of.

On arrival the mood was set by the billowing smoke of the brazier wafting across the entrance of the guesthouse. Sipping over a lovely glass of a creamy Privat Opus Evolutium cava, the Japanese wooden placard of “Mugaritz” on the wall was a subtle reminder that this was no ordinary Basque farmhouse. We had an opportunity to have a quick tour of the kitchen before we were seated at our table and made to ponder as to whether we would submit or rebel for the next 150 mins. Unsurprisingly, we all decided to submit, and let our senses be guided by Aduriz’ brigade of chefs for the evening.

Just as soon as we succumbed, the waiter placed the first amuse bouche on the table. They were Aduriz’ famous edible stones (potatoes covered in kaolin, an edible clay), which took him a year to research and perfect with his sister who is a pharmacist. Though the potatoes looked and texturally felt like Japanese pebbles, as soon as you bit into it the thin casing immediately dissolved into the sweet and tender flesh; a truly deceptive but perfectly balanced dish both in terms of texture and temperature.

Another amuse bouche worthy of mentioning was the crunchy sauce with peppers, which essentially was a dehydrated broth. The texture was similar to that of a prawn cracker but much thinner and delicate, and we were amazed at how it melted into cream as soon as it touched our tongues. The pepper added a sharpness to the dish which it needed and worked really well. We were generally struck with the unique array of amuse bouches and knew that Aduriz was going to be challenging our every pre-conception of food. The accompanying white Rioja, Remelluri Blanco 2008 was chosen by our sommelier Nico who challenged us to try something other than the local Txacoli; an advice which turned out to be most welcome!