Back to Mugaritz: This Year's Menu

From my first trip back in 2011, which blew me away, to the fabulous (if a bit more challenging) meal I had there in 2012, Mugaritz has never ceased to impress. I've been there on a sunny morning, checking out what's growing on the farm. And I went in 2013, too, an even more challenging meal which did not appear to impress my dining companion.

My hopes were high and my curiosity higher for a 2015 return with a special friend of mine. {Side note: Why do I know such awesome people? Why is my life marked by lovely people and lovely meals? For reflection.}

The meal we embarked upon was not my best experience at Mugaritz. There were moments I considered using my napkin for subterfuge. It was one of the most intellectual trips to the restaurant, however. I could tell there was a lot going on behind-the-scenes.  However, I feel about meals how I feel about books, movies, and other 'art'. To be important, to be more than an object of momentary consumption, an element of theoretical know-how and technical wizardry is essential. However, when I read a book, if I get bored halfway through — well, I still finish it, which is a personal flaw of mine. But it makes me want to just close it and forget about the whole thing. And I feel the same way about "important" meals. You have to have the technique, the ingredient, the thought behind the plate...but if it doesn't taste good, who really effin' cares.

More on this later....THIS is what we ate and a breakdown of what ran through my head.  Think of this as an's the first thing I thought, followed by a ranking of whether my thought is super biased by a certain culinary preference of mine ( more ▲s means it was perhaps a good dish, but I had a certain culinary preference that made me not enjoy it.  1 or 2 ▲s means the dish is objectively good/bad), followed by the questions I have that would perhaps make me understand the dish a little better.

galleta de cresta y corales

first thought: pretty
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: ▲▲ ▲ ▲ ▲ (crunchy, creamy, agreeable, I just don't like that strong fishy flavor)
questions it left me with: nothing, feeling good at this point

chacinería marina

first thought: extra pretty!
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: ▲△ △ △ △ (something here for everyone, yum!)
questions it left me with: Nada! Lovin' it. Anchovy, mussel, all a little bit wacky and fun.

tortilla de nueces

first thought: is this foie? mmmm. this is good.
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: ▲△ △ △ △ (homey, earthy flavors)
questions it left me with: Could this have been tastier with some sort of complementary yet strongly flavored sauce? It was good, just a tiny bit bland.

bogavante gratinado

first thought: Lobster and cheese? WTF!
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: ▲△ △ △ △ (two awesome WTF)
questions it left me with: Is this not just like college where you stuck whatever protein you had in the microwave and melted some Kraft singles on top? Why can't I taste either the lobster or the cheese?

pan azul y anchoa

first thought: That is so cool! Good flavor.
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: ▲△ △ △ △ (objectively cool)
questions it left me with: Are y'all totally anti-sauce? Because that would have been a positive element and this feels a bit unfinished. Happy though you were able to do such cool things with bread, and love the link between conserves and mold and forgotten loaves of Bimbo!

amanita caesarea

first thought: Mmmmmm.
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: ▲△ △ △ △ (objectively delicious)
questions it left me with: The red powder is cool, but how about more mushrooms?

mousse de crema y txangurro

first thought: Delicious! That spoon is weird and big and this feels a bit amateur.
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: ▲△ △ △ △ (cold crab? ok! lovin' it)
questions it left me with: Why the spoon? Okay, I'll shut up and eat it. Yum.


milhojas de algas y idiazabal

first thought: I'm going to love this! Oh...where's the salt?
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: ▲△ △ △ △ (I love this idea, but these algas need some lovin. or salt. or something that makes them seem like more than just a pile of seaweed)
questions it left me with: Is cutting cheese in an almost-perfect square the best you can do?  Am I missing something because I think this is just cheese in a square?

pescado azul, remolacha y rábano

first thought: It's okay, Marti, just tell them you are feeling full.
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: ▲△ △ △ △ (this felt like an eff you to deliciousness. i like blue fish, love beets and adore radishes, and it was like a middle finger to the air. not me, it's you)
questions it left me with: Who thought this worked together? Did you notice it was ugly?

‘Bovis máxima: vive la France!’

first thought: Huh?
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: ▲▲ ▲ △ △ (I'm jaded and resent anything that smells even slightly of Pinterest. I am sure many diners found this endearing.)
questions it left me with: Why, oh why, so literal? Tasty, though.

ortiguillas y acentos vegetales con jugo de callos

first thought: Pretty.
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: ▲▲ ▲ ▲ ▲ (This plate seemed juicy, tender, well-executed. I just am not the biggest sea anemone person.)
questions it left me with: Am I the only one who doesn't love sea anemone?

gominola de vaca

first thought: Well, cool, okay, a very concentrated stock, okay.
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: △ △ △ △ △ (Objectively ain't right.)
questions it left me with: Why now? The penultimate is a gummy (albeit a perfect one)? And who here has the cow/Pinterest fetish?

falda de potro asada a la parrilla de carbón con flores y hierbas marchitas

first thought: Where's my napkin?
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: ▲△ △ △ △ (Maybe there's someone out there who loves baby horse.)
questions it left me with: Why horse? And why concentrate that flavor in a greasy, lip-coating substance? Can I have more of the green vinegar-y stuff?


el queso

first thought: There's my napkin.
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: ▲ ▲ ▲ △△ (I'm jaded. Maybe this rules? It just all feels too simple, unfinished, missing a level of sophistication and meaning.)
questions it left me with: How does this fit in the picture? I feel dizzy from the high-low-high-low acrobatics of this meal. I'm happy I can have a horizontal tasting of years-old cheese, but is the place/time? 

tarta al ‘güisqui’

first thought: Yum, yum.
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: △ △ △ △ △ (Objectively yum yum).
questions it left me with: Can I have more?

cuajada de almendras y melocotón

first thought: Flavor?
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: △ △ △ △ △ (I love dessert and am more open to experimentation in this arena, so....)
questions it left me with: Peach? Didn't know it was peach until I went back to the menu. Hmmm... 

polvorón de cacahuete

first thought: Yassssss...finally!
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: △ △ △ △ △ (Objectively delicious)
questions it left me with: I can ha some mo?

los 7 pecados capitales

first thought: Hello, old friend.
It's-not-you-it's-me-meter: △ △ △ △ △ (Objectively delicious)
questions it left me with: Doggy bag?

Any questions?

There were some plates that I felt like were almost there, but that the team perhaps gave up before they made it taste good. Like, 'cool guys, we just did something never done before, high five, let's grab a hamaiketako'.

That said, looking back I see some special things I missed in the hullabaloo of the meal, but, Andoni, if you're reading this, I'd love to talk!


Aldura Aldea, 20, 20100 Errenteria, Gipuzkoa
943 51 83 43