Mugaritz

I haven’t posted about our meal at Mugaritz which according to San Pellegrino & Acqua Panna is #3 best restaurant in the world! We were fortunate enough to score reservations, given that we booked our flights a month before our trip. We also tried to make reservations at El Celler de Can Roca and Asador Etxebarri. We didn’t luck out on the former but was able to go to the latter which I hopefully will post soon. Anyway, the reason we were lucky to book Mugaritz is because they were on their winter break. The restaurant closes down for the winter and re-opens in the spring…we got the third service for 2012, which means they were open for two days! During the break the entire team goes off in R&D mode, discovering and experimenting with new flavors. So the staff was very excited to serve us this very new menu. We even got to try items that did not appear on the menu. Mugaritz’ food should evoke different senses. Even the way they word the dishes sounds fancy!

Mugaritz is located outside of San Sebastian, we had a rental car and GPS, thank goodness because no one tells you about the numerous roundabouts in Spain!

So let’s get started!

“Satiation eludes bread and olives…” Is it sad that the Robuchon bread cart is still the most epic bread cart I’ve ever had? Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of their bread tray ūüė¶ ¬†Anyway, get it? Instead of bread you got paper, instead of olives you got butter that tasted like olives!¬†Yes it looks like paper and even has the texture of kraft paper. There is this one snack that is sold at the Vietnamese supermarkets…it looks like white crackers that have roasted peanuts held together by a hardened sugar. I don’t know the name of this snack but the white cracker part tastes just like this paper! It was served with olive oil tasting butter.

“Grilled toast of bone marrow with herbs and horseradish ash” That’s a whole piece of bone marrow, it was like meaty butter on toast!

“Flax and wheat “Kraft” paper with roe and Arrow-grass buttons” Underneath this “paper” there was roe!

“crunchy sauce with citron and peppers” this reminds me of shrimp crackers, the same concept but much thinner. However when you bite into it, it immediately melts in your mouth like a creamy sauce! the black dots represent the peppers…it definitely balanced out the creaminess of the sauce.

“Lukewarm cannelloni of sea urchin and milk” Looks like cheong fun from dim sum, doesn’t it? Except the texture/flavor of the “cannelloni” piece does not taste like rice noodles, it tastes like non fat milk in…noodle form and when you bite into it you have HUGE pieces of sea urchin.

“Strings of skate and chard with Molli made with sunflower and pumpkin seeds” The strings of skate…also reminded me of another Asian dish, have you had dried cuttle fish? It’s like that but as if it’s been moistened in water, except in this case it was moistened by a sunflower/pumpkin seed sauce. Very interesting take on a childhood snack!

Here’s the bonus dish! Looks like de-skinned grapes right? When we bit into it it tasted like winter melon soup! The staff eagerly watched us eat this one to see how we reacted. When we finished they asked us what we thought it was, husband said winter melon soup and they said yes!

“cured cheese, in its own rind, mushrooms and coastal herbs” This one tasted as described, like a very creamy cheese, even creamier/softer than brie.

“Vegetable noodles in a meat and toasted onions consomme” It was like french onion soup, without the gruyere cheese. Without the cheese it tastes a lot lighter!

This next dish was fun:
“Bonding…” Toasted seeds and spices served in a Mortar with a paste of chopped shrimp
Yeah that’s exactly what we got, except the “bonding” part is where we did some work! This is what we received:

Once you smashed the seeds/spices, you received the broth:

And you also received a bowl of chopped shrimp, the shrimp looked like they were toasted or baked until it was crunchy:

And then you mix it altogether and had a yummy soup!

Back to more eating and less working! “Tagliatelle of concentrated milk lightly soaked in a silky juice of roasted squash and tomato.” The “tagliatelle” part of this was really interesting! It was like the texture of the part of the creme brulee or flan where the edge tastes harder than the rest of the custard, but harder and chewy, but tasted milky. Hope that makes sense.

“slices of monkfish cooked with the steam of its bones. crispy stew of roasted rinds and lilies.” There’s a steamed fish that my mom would make which included dried lilies…this dish reminded me of my mom’s dish. the fish was perfectly cooked, the crispy rinds/lilies were a nice compliment to the firm fish.

“Coastal fish with crunchy trimmings of aged sourdough and sweet pickled daikon.” This fish didn’t taste like monkfish bc of its thickness…it was very thin like sole but rolled up. It was well cooked too!

“Breast of guineafowl with lobster emulsion and its roasted skin” I’m not sure what guineafowl is but it tasted like a very tender chicken breast!

“Tender sweetbread with roasted parsnip and artisan praline” This was ok, maybe I’m just not a fan of sweetbreads in general…

“Light dices of sculpted apple with figs. Crunchy dark chocolate and mint” The apple part tasted like super thin slices of…apple pie crust!

“traditional almond fairy cake” I really liked this one…it tasted like very light vanilla ice cream with a nice coating of crushed raw almonds…it was a lovely, light dessert!

“Forgotten memory from childhood. Small bite of milky wafer with lemon ice cream” This ice cream was nice because it wasn’t pucker-y lemon. I’m not a fan of lemon/lime desserts but I was ok with this because of that.

Nails and flowers. Looks like rusted nails but it was chocolate shaped into nails, dusted with chocolate powder!

Candies of frankincense. The perfume of eucalyptus barks. After having the nails we weren’t sure which part to eat on this one! Turns out you eat the incense that was still burning! The texture reminded me of cigarette candy that I had as a kid but tasted a little anise-y. I wonder if it was intended to be another rendition of those cigarette candies?

Overall I really enjoyed the experience. Everyone was super helpful and well versed in their new menu. It was cool how they had so many renditions on Asian dishes. Fun times indeed!

Mugaritz
Otzazulueta baserria, Aldura-aldea 20,20100
Errenteria, Spain

No taco count

Since I’m not really in the mood to eat tacos this time around, I want to do a different count. An apple count. For some reason this hotel has tons of apples laying around. I should take advantage of this benefit bc it truly is a big benefit for me! My goal this trip is to try to eat one apple a day! Man I wish I had an apple corer ūüôā

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White truffle oil pasta

Are you a fan of truffles? ¬†The smell of truffles can permeate a room quickly, so I’m not sure if one would like the taste if they can’t stand the pungent smell. ¬†Personally I don’t mind truffles. ¬†I won’t go out of my way to eat them though. ¬†One of my friends gave me white truffle oil for my birthday. ¬†We decided to make a recipe that we saw the Barefoot Contessa make recently. ¬†She used white truffle butter so we improvised a bit by modifying our truffle oil and butter ratio to accommodate her recipe.

We couldn’t find the pasta brand that she used. ¬†We also added a poached egg to give the dish more protein (though I think shrimp would work well). ¬†This may seem like a lot of chives but the chives adds a lightness to the heavy taste of this dish. ¬†It tastes heavy because you use egg pasta, butter, a poached egg and white truffle oil. ¬†It took about half an hour from start to finish to make this dish! I think the dish worked well with a medium to full bodied red wine. ¬† The red wine helps cut through the heaviness of the white truffles. ¬†Another easy meal! ¬†Enjoy!

Jerusalem Artichokes

We learned about Jerusalem Artichokes, aka sunchokes, earlier this year when we attended Menu Minuet. ¬†I’m not sure why they are called Jerusalem Artichokes because they aren’t related to Jerusalem or artichokes. ¬†Anyway you can only get these in a small time period, we luckily saw them at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago! ¬†They look like a cross between a fingerling potato and a ginger. ¬†I asked the farmer what the best way to cook them. ¬†He said to thinly slice them and¬†saut√©¬†with salt/pepper. ¬†I did some research and found that another blogger had them at ad hoc. ¬†I wanted to prepare it similar to how Keller’s restaurant would!

I noticed that at ad hoc they left the skin on so I had to thoroughly clean the outside. ¬†There was a lot of dirt on these guys, a vegetable brush would’ve helped a little since there are lots of nooks and crannies that you have to get into. ¬† Just like a potato, if the skin is exposed it will turn pink. ¬†So when you are selecting them, make sure to pick ones that do not have any pink on them, as that means the skin’s been exposed.

I drizzled them in olive oil, salt and pepper.  I baked them in the oven for about 20-25 minutes on 350 degrees.

They tasted like a starchy version of an artichoke heart. ¬†You don’t really need to put sugar on them because they have a naturally sweet taste. ¬†The parts that caramalized had a sweet, crunchy taste. ¬†Overall these are pretty good. ¬†So if you see them at the farmer’s market, you should definitely give them a try! ¬†Now that I have an idea of how they taste, I would prepare them the same way as I would fingerling potatoes. ¬†Ad hoc put some fresh thyme on them. ¬†Next time I’m going to add some fresh chopped rosemary for a little bit of pizazz!

Brazil trip #2

This is late entry but I still wanted to post it!

I FINALLY HAD THE MORTADELLA SANDWICH!

The first time we visited Brazil, I prepped by watching Anthony Bourdain’s Sao Paulo episode. He went to the Mercado Municipal which he deemed his favorite market! The Paulistas all say to try the Mortadella sandwich. Unfortunately, the first time we went, the market was closed! I was so sad. ¬†This time, I asked all of the locals I met so far (including hotel staff) if the market would be open today (Sunday, July 11th). Everyone said “ehhhh, not sure…but it is open Mondays through Saturdays.” Our driver said that he’d pass by the market to see if it was open. Lo and behold, it was open! I would’ve been so sad if I didn’t get a chance to check out the market this time around! I’m so glad I went, there were so many tropical fruits there including passion fruit, mangosteens, cherimoya, soursop, mangos, strawberries, etc…it all smelled so wonderful!

What does mortadella taste like?  It reminded me of thinly sliced bologna meat that is cooked till crispy over a griddle.  Is it amazing?  I think the fact that it had soft bread, ooey gooey cheese, and the fact that I was in the realm of the Mercado made it a tasty sandwich.

Thanksgiving potluck – part 2

Second potluck was equally awesome. ¬†Wine spice anyone? ¬†Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of this potluck but for your imagination:
– A whole roasted pig from Chinatown
-Bread infused with rosemary made from a Dutch Oven
-Spaghetti squash salad made with squash from the CSA (go awesome hostess for supporting local farmers!)
-Lentil salad with beets
-Stuffed mushrooms
-Stuffing
-Lamb roast
-French cheeses, my favorite being a cheese in the shape of a pear.  Yet the cheese tasted like pear with the consistency of cheese, amazing!
-Pumpkin pie in a cute jar for each guest as a parting gift!

Wait where’s the turkey? ¬†Who cares, there was a lot of tasty food that no one noticed the turkey!!! ¬†I made butternut squash soup with the squash we purchased at the farmer’s market. ¬†As much as I love kobocha and butternut squash, I DETEST cutting them. ¬†You can’t use a vegetable peeler to have at the skin (unless you have some kind of machete peeler that I don’t know of?). ¬†I usually hack at the skin with my trusty henckels chef’s knife. ¬†It’s still a bit scary. ¬†Some say you should boil or bake it a bit to soften the skin, but that’s just additional time to kill, which you may not have!

I used this recipe. ¬†It’s quite simple and I think fairly healthy as well. ¬†Chicken broth can be replaced with vegetable broth. ¬†For the amount of soup that you make, the butter in this recipe is pretty immaterial.

I didn’t want to transport the soup in a dutch oven, so I used a stock pot. ¬†I plastic wrapped the pot first, then I placed the lid on and plastic wrapped that too! ¬†THEN, I put the pot in the box that I purchased the pot in. ¬†TRIPLE protection in my car! ¬†Don’t forget to bring a soup ladle. ¬†Also, if you make soup it’s best to bring spoons and bowls. ¬†Unless your hostess is kind enough to supply these items for you, but it’s always best to ask ahead of time!

Note to self, I should buy some soup bowls.  Enjoy.

Thanksgiving potluck part 1

Potlucks in college consisted of ¬†plastic/paper/aluminum flatware, plates, and trays. ¬†You start to notice how these things start becoming proper silverware, plates and pretty serving trays. ¬†Oh it’s so lovely and fun! ¬†We had the honor of being invited to two potlucks this year. ¬†I wanted to make healthy, tasty food. ¬†I didn’t want to make anything that related to breads or the potato family. ¬†The farmer’s market had plenty of squashes and cauliflower. ¬†As an FYI, the price of squash and cauliflower is comparable, if not cheaper, to the grocery stores like Ralphs (when it’s not on sale at Ralphs, it’s cheaper at the farmer’s market).

For the first potluck I made cauliflower with golden raisins and pine nuts.  Stir fry the cauliflower in olive oil and sugar on lower heat to cook the cauliflower a bit.  Then add pine nuts, golden raisins, garlic, and water to the cauliflower on higher heat.  The water prevents the cauliflower from over drying.  Stick the entire thing on a sheet/pan to roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on the number of cauliflower you are making.  This is the gist of it and you can add more seasonings to it, though this is what we had at the time!

The end result:

Everyone liked this!  I think this is a great, HEALTHY alternative to all of the potatoes and breads you will see at a Thanksgiving potluck.  Enjoy.

Dragon Fruit

My parents live where the weather is tropical fruit growing friendly. They love growing stuff, if you give them seeds, they will grow it! One thing that they always grow are dragon fruit. I rarely see them in southern California but lo and behold, I saw them at the farmer’s market this weekend!

$4.00 for one dragonfruit! My parents would be so happy ‚̧