Hel's Kitchen: I Itz at Mugaritz

by Bruce Cormicle
Print Email

mugaritz.jpgThe 3 -star Michelin restaurant Mugaritz (rated 3rd in the Top Fifty Restaurants of the World) is high up in hills of Errenteria, Spain twenty minutes outside of San Sebastian.

It is surprisingly easy to get to if you are an expert in Himalayan climbs, hairpin turns, and fluent in the basque language called Euskara.

After you arrive at this culinary mecca, you remove your crampons, ice axe, and Formula One racing helmet, and are ushered into their gorgeous kitchen sanctum.

A sparkling cava (Copa Cava Opus Evolutium Ad Private) is given to you to sip. A discussion is then held between you and the various friendly alchemists who will be cooking your meal regarding the philosophical underpinnings of that evening's dishes.

clayeggs.jpgYou are taken to your table. A glass of Ossian 2008 white wine is poured. A single small potato (called "Edible Stones" on the menu) that has been cooked in an edible clay shell sits on top of heated gravel.

You bite into it hoping your dental insurance has been squared away and realize that it is soft and what you always hoped a potato could be, what any food could be. You dip it into an aiolli sauce and realize that if you only went to Spain for this one potato it would have been enough, more than enough, maybe even too much.

Another dish is simply identified as: "Shhhhh... cat got your tongue". It is beef tongue that had been cooked twelve hours sous vide, then shredded with tweezers into extremely thin threads, deep fried, and then reassembled into a bird's nest.

There was a five kilo hake fish that had been caught and detained in local waters that afternoon. When it was unable to produce letters of transit it was forthwith delivered by waiting couriers to the restaurant where it ended up as incredible dish eleven: "Filet of hake and milky reduction of stewed cabbage sprouts with luscious citrus spread". Like Ugarte, it gave up its life for a great cause.

mugaritzdessert.jpgThe dinner was three hours and covered seventeen dishes ("Artichoke and bone marrow ragout stuffed in a creamy kuzu bread (made to look like white hollowed out bone)", "Quail Armagnac", and "Iberian pork tails, crispy leaves, and toasted sweet millet oil" were some of the others).

It is no coincidence that Nicholai Hel – the fictional professional assassin/gourmand of Trevanian's "Shibumi" – repairs to the hills of the Basque Country to feast, practice Stage Four love-making, and live simply ("eloquent silence" it is called) – after killing, of course, some Munich terrorists with the edge of a credit card.

Well, although I, too, suffered death by AmEx when I received “la cuenta”, I have never felt more thankful for the experience.

Murgaritz, Otazulueta Baserria, Aludura Aldea 20, 20100, Errenteria, Spain

 

Bruce Cormicle is an attorney, writer, and chef who works in Beverly Hills and recently started his own catering company called "You've Been Served".    

You have no rights to post comments

 

restaurant news

Miss Macaron
New York
by Alexis Siemons

bisous1.jpgI've never been the type to have a candy drawer or crave chocolate. Growing up, I would rather have a savory snack than give myself a sugar rush. There was one sweet spoonful that sent me...

Read more...
Bastide, in a class of its own
Los Angeles
by Irene Virbila

Under chef Walter Manzke, the Melrose Place restaurant's third incarnation is quite the experience.

champagne-cork-popping.jpg The blue door, shuttered for more than a year and a half, is open once again, and the stage...

Read more...
The Waffle House
Southern States
by Ann Nichols

sign.jpg The Waffle House is sort of the unofficial flower of the Southern Interstate exit. Driving North from the Gulf Coast on I-65 for the past two years, I have seen the yellow signs blossoming in...

Read more...
Main Street Bakery & Cafe
Colorado
by Haley Schultheis

mainstreetbakery.jpgIf there is one type of restaurant certain to make a list of things I adore, it’s a cozy bakery and café. There is a peaceful and neighborly feel about such a place. Yes, Tiffany’s is to Holly...

Read more...