Let the games begin… San Sebastián Gastronomika 2013

Once again we are getting ready to be part of San Sebastián Gastronomika, where not only will we share our latest ideas and experiences, but we will also meet old friends. This time, our participation in the congress will be very diverse: on wednesday 9th, we will open our research and development kitchen to a small group of enthusiasts to show them how we put together our menus. It will be a step by step explanation of how we build an experience from scratch.
Tomorrow we are also going to make a presentation in the main auditorium. We will share the new developments based on the concept of playing with food. We have already talked about how games can be used in the search for pleasure. The adventure of the unknown becomes easier if it is turned into a game. The “Astragal” dish is a stimulating exercise for which the craft of Japanese artists from the Arita region is necessary. These craftsmen are part of a porcelain workshop which will soon be 400 years old. This has been an amazing project which we have worked upon for a long time. From the very start we have been in love with the ability of Arita artists to recreate tradition, technology and a huge dose of creativity.

 

We will end our presentation with the world premiere of a new video produced by La Fura dels Baus for Mugaritz. A wonderful story about moving from the past into the present while preserving traditions and stimulating innovation. Food and games… is there anything better?

High mountain cheese for Mugaritz

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The road to the Beaskin hut, in the hills of the Aralar montain range is hazy. Full of details, ins and outs and surprises all of which are reflected in the cheese made by Jon and Martina. They are shepherds from Zerain, a small town in the heart of Goierri (literally highland in the Basque language) region. From May to October, Jon confines himself to the remote wilderness of the mountain to make a unique cheese full of distinctive features.

Quesos de altura para Mugaritz

The Mugaritz team paid a visit to spend a day with him. Observing the landscape around the hut and watching Jon work with his flock of Latxa sheep is the best way to comprehend the reasons why his cheese is so rich in flavour and texture. We brought him a basket of food and supplies since we know he will not come down off the mountain for another month.

Jon is 37 years old and he knows that in order to make the best product, he must sacrifice much of his time taking the sheep to graze on the best grass only found on the higher plains of the mountains. It can be said to be the best because the diversity of aromas from the wild herbs found near the peaks are condensed in the milk and, subsequently, in the cheese he makes.

 

The Aralar mountain range is a territory shared by the regions of Gipuzkoa and Navarra. At a height of 1,200 m the grass flourishes in this natural ecosystem where shepherds have carved out a living for centuries. There are more than 70 individual huts where shepherds make cheese. Every single one of these cheese-makers has his idiosyncratic style and methods. For Jon the protocol is strict: a flock of 160 sheep milked twice a day by hand. After letting the milk sit for a few hours, a batch of new cheese is made. The cheese is then aged for 6 to 18 months. The result is sublime!

The only problem when dealing with Jon, is that his own high standards exceed even our own. It has been more than 3 months since Jon has sold us any cheese. “It is not my best work”, he insists. We can’t wait to sample what he deems to be truly exceptional.

The best moments of 2012-2013 season of Mugaritz

A collection of sensations, stories, locations and friends. We want to share shots of the places we have travelled to. From Berlin to Sydney making stops in many cities of the world. A glimpse of Tokyo Taste and Mesamerica, always explosive and surprising gatherings. From London, where we presented our book “A Natural Science of Cooking”, to Madrid and Barcelona where NFS and ONFAN were presented. The participation of Mugaritz BSO at the Berlinale Fim Festival, shots of the tastings for the 2013 menu and as always, creativity, friendship, accomplices and collaborators…
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Emilio, the last remaining coalman

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Making charcoal was never an easy profession. Nowadays it is a job that is on the verge of extinction; but is one which we hope will rise from the ashes, if only to praise the toughness and dedication men showed while honing their craft. Hard days and even harder duties which began with a search for wood in the hills; later on, in the areas surrounding their homes, the burning process used to take place, trading time and fire for comfort in the kitchen or a bathroom. Read More

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A 4 day trip to Mexico

Mexico is an explosion of stimulae for all the senses. We already knew this, but we experienced it again on our last trip to D.F. We were there for 4 days and attended Mesamérica, an annual gathering which is quickly becoming one of the most important and exciting culinary symposiums in the world.

Intense would be the most appropriate word to describe our experience and we couldn’t have asked for a better host than Chef Arturo Fernandez. Finding him this time in the role of head Chef of Restaurante Raíz is one of those gifts which fate bestows upon you. In 2004 Arturo worked with us as an apprentice in the kitchen and now he owns a restaurant which combines innovation, culture and education.

Mexico also gave us the chance to meet up with old friends like Massimo Bottura, René Redzepi, Gastón Acurio, Daniel Humm, Jordi Roca and Alex Atala, among others. In the end, it is during the chance meetings and brief shared moments that one learns the most important lessons at these gatherings.

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