This restaurant, considered one of the best in the world, features a different menu everyday. The weather, seasons and nature itself, dictate which products will be used in the elaboration of the dishes.
By Diana Subirats
"The pursuit of pleasure through stimulus" is the premise of Mugaritz, considered, by the experts, one of the world’s ten best restaurants, and number seven in San Pellegrino’s list and with two Michelin stars.
Mugaritz is located in an idyllic cottage where once stood a dairy store. Like an oak (haritza), the restaurant marks the border (muga) between the municipalities of Renteria and Astigarraga, near San Sebastian in Spain’s Basque Country. Its name comes from this fusion of these two words in the Basque language.
Its rhythms and tempos, flavors and textures, aromas and colors, are sealed by the surrounding mountainous landscape. The restaurant’s identity is inspired by cultural diversity as the purest expression of gastronomy, and a commitment to the geographical environment through regional suppliers. Arzak, another example of fine Basque cuisine.
For Chef Andoni Luis Anduriz, who helms the restaurant, the challenge is to break culinary boundaries with a constant search for perfection and uniqueness in each of his dishes. In its proposals, the master cook´s imagination overflows, with marked intention, to please all the senses. Mugaritz can be described as a laboratory of culinary experimentation where everything becomes special.
The menu is always a surprise. The weather, the seasons, and nature itself, dictate which products will be used. Each day, the food is made with exquisitely selected, top quality products.
The offer could include a warm dish of raw vegetables cooked with stems, tubers, roots, flowers, leaves, seeds and sprouts, both wild and farm raised, seasoned with hazelnut butter and Idiazábal cheese juice; charcoal grilled duck foie gras with rice broth and sea lettuce, or a buttery gnocchi made with Idiazábal cheese soaked in broth of salted Iberian pig.
To finish the great explosion of flavors, a sweet choice could be the juicy chocolate cake, cold almond cream, golden pastries, pumps or cocoa. And to accompany such a special meal, a fine wine chosen from a splendid selection, listed by their characteristics, instead of their names.
There is no printed menu at Mugaritz, only a unique tasting list composed of about twenty dishes custom tailored to the taste and needs of each guest, for a price that starts at $130. A team of nearly fifty culinary specialists makes every effort to please the whims of their guests with the experience earned through years of research and tastings.
Another distinctive characteristic of Mugaritz is recording every dish to delineate every detail, from the tableware in which the food is served, its preparation and the nutritional value of each product used.
Mugaritz transcends the boundaries of culinary art and integrates other artistic disciplines such as music, dance and drama, with superb results. It features gastronomic projects complemented with sound, literature, and theater—such as The Titus Andronicus Tasting— and with cinema, like the short film Macaron Hunt, which shows how the art of cooking can resonate in other artistic fields.
The restaurant’s publishing company, created in 2002, has produced catalogs and collections of cookbooks with beautiful illustrations and photographs devoted to disseminating the Mugaritz experience, as well as the cuisine of different cultures. Andoni warns his guests: "Perhaps today you will taste dishes you may not like, but they're exciting. You will say: it's not something I would usually eat, but it is spectacular." ■
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