Posts Tagged: "Mugaritz"

The cheese table: the fermented and the rotten

- - Sin categoría

Culture is cultivation, but it is not an isolated act; it is, by definition, part of a cyclical ongoing process, passed from generation to generation.

Sandor Ellix Katz ,“ The art of fermentation”


The willingness to cultivate is to preserve life; but there is no life without death. This is a large cycle, a cycle in which extremes converge.

In this limitation, the king of mushrooms is present; invisible, intangible, and omni-present; decomposing and transforming the substance that feeds life.

Mushrooms and human beings are very alike [1]. They have lived together since the beginning of time. Men have given mushrooms the fruit of their labour: milk, fruit juice, refined flour…perpetuating and converting them into cheesemakers, wine-producers, bakers…into micro-cultivators.

Mushrooms have given men fermented ingredients, which have been passed on from generation to generation. They have maintaining taught and learned flavours and aromas; ultimately converting them into transmitters of culture.

Life and death, beauty and decay, the fermented and the rotten…have always been part of one cycle where extremes converge and blend with each other in a limitation lived by mushrooms.


The installation of the ‘Cheese table’ of Mugaritz will be part of URBANZIENTZIA – CIENCIA URBANA, a science day of the OLATU TALKA event organised by Teknahi. This initiative, which will be part of other activities in DONOSTIA- SAN SEBASTIÁN 2016, will take place on May 21st in Iztueta, between Gros and Egia.



[1] Maurizio Montalti, “Continous Bodies, Cycles of decomposition triggering a simbiotic partnership between humans and fungi”


- - Sin categoría

Mugaritz opened the season on the 15th of April 2015, after devoting 4 months to research and creativity.  We began a year which promised new experiences and teachings; trips, stories and people who would make it an unforgettable year.

On the 14th of April, our 10 first guests enjoyed our culinary offering thanks to You open the doors of Mugaritz, they were followed by more than 14000 diners from 80 different countries.

We have tried to match the efforts of who have travelled from the 4 corners of the world to experience Mugaritz by bringing our cuisine, philosophy and knowledge to Europe, North and South America and Asia. Mugaritz, led by Andoni Luis Aduriz, has travelled to: Switzerland, USA, EUA, Colombia, Philippines, Italy, Great Britain, Taiwan, Brazil, Argentina and Malaysia in the space of 11 months.IMG_0812

We have staged lunches and dinners in Mallorca, Miami (South Beach Food and Wine) Taiwan (Thomas Chien) and the restaurant Zaldiaran, among other locations. At one point Andoni even swapped kitchens taking the helm at COI (San Francisco) as part of the Gelinaz event.

In addition to the kitchens we have visited we have taken part in a diverse range of congresses (Madrid Fusión, San Sebastian Gastronomika, Madrid Fusion Manila, etc.) and talks in events (Advanced Computer Entertainment, El futuro por venir, etc.) and universities such as Harvard, for example.

This year Mugaritz has not only phisically approached a wide audience but also in the form of a documentary. On the 19th of September we released OFF-ROAD on the San Sebastian Festival, a philosophical and ethological documentary about Mugaritz where La Fura dels Baus distills the ideas behind Mugaritz.

Finally, we should not forget all those who have joined us on our journey: our complices, who have made Mugaritz what it is.

The curtain of Mugaritz comes down tomorrow until the 13th of April, but we will continue working behind the scene.

See you soon!

Here you can read this post in Spanish.

The story behind our cheeses

- - Cocina
Photo: José Luis López de Zubiría/ Mugaritz

Photo: José Luis López de Zubiría/ Mugaritz

Cheese has always been present in Mugaritz. At the very beginning, in 1999, when there were different menus we used to offer a cheese platter with garnish. At this moment, it was the guest who could choose whether he wanted or not cheese to be part of his gastronomic experience.

However, the role of cheese continued to evolve and gain protagonism over the course of time. This year it has featured prominently in our tasting menu in the form of The Cheese dish (above).

We are now able to offer the best artesan cheese thanks to the hard work of a series of excepcional suppliers. They advise us on the optimun period of maturity of their product so we can offer it to our guests.

We began the season with the cheeses of José Manuel from Borda Marengo placed in Belagua, in the Roncal Valley, the famous cheese producing region in Navarra. Then we had Anne’s unpasteurized goat’s milk cheese from Eskanda farmhouse. We also sampled Ramon Lizeaga’s cheese. The last cheeses of the season came from Iñaki (Uhartia)  who couldn’t single out just one cheese and therefore suggested three different types of 3, 6 and 12 months maturity. This week we have visited Jon and Martina in the Aralar mountain range (we also did it in 2013, here you can read about it). They have waited 3 years to prepare the perfect cheese for Mugaritz.

In our presentation of the cheese we try to reflect the uniqueness of the cheese maker. It is served with a piece of bread and a cloth containing a text which introduces you to each shepherd. This is the same cloth which is used by cheese makers during the ellaboration process.

They represent the people who make the Mugaritz experience possible, the hands in which our cuisine is based.

Here you can read this post in Spanish.

Brewing our knowledge: Beer and coastal herbs

- - Sala

This project has its roots from a concern, from an idea and from an eagerness to explore and experiment with a product that, year after year has strengthened in our environment, as much in Mugaritz as an important piece in our daily lives; this product is beer.

In 2013, we began with this idea, but it was several months later, in a workshop held by both Porto-Muinos and Mugaritz in Madrid Fusion, which allowed us to understand how complex it is to elaborate such an authentic product as a craft beer with coastal herbs. Coastal herbs are greens grown on the coast with which we have not only worked with for many years but from which we have benefitted learning in-depth from our friends at Porto-Muinos.

We started to work on the project and we realised that the use of coastal herbs to elaborate a beer permitted us to unite two products which on the one hand, were never paired together before and on the other hand, posed a risk due to the lack of references.

It was during this time, that we became familiar with the elaboration process, the trials, the good and also bad results which helped us discover the taste, the texture and aroma that we wanted our beer to have. Over the period of trials that we carried out here at Mugaritz, we decided to take this project further.

In the Casasola Brewery we met kindred spirits who shared our passion. They opened their doors, allowing us to take our beer to a next level without renouncing the spirit of craft beer. They made us feel at home and provided us with everything we needed to make this dream come true.
It has been an incredible experience to work side by side with Casasola.

What follows is only a small sample of what Mugaritz did at the brewery.

Once the beer was made, we impatiently waited for the second fermentation to finish, to finally taste this anxiously-anticipated beer.

During this time, we chose the name Sustrai means “Roots” in Basque. It is an allusion to our origin and inspiration; to the roots of the oak tree which holds down the ground we work on.

As a result a couple of months later, we obtained our own artisanal beer. There two different types of beer:

sustrai simulacion

Zuria: a wheat-based beer that is fresh, smooth and easy to drink.

Halo-Ale: a beer made with coastal herbs which carries with it a more subtile marine touch. Herbaceous refinements.

Now is the time to share these beers with all of you.

Here you can read this post in Spanish.

Defying intuition. Stones, craftwork and vanguard.

- - Sinergias


It has been some years since we started paying special attention to the surfaces on which we plate our food at Mugaritz. Every year we look at new materials with curious eyes, even though we seek excitement in novelty, there are times where surprises may be unearth among treasures from the past.

Stone is rarely used in dishware design. Its very nature makes it difficult to shape it at will. The porosity on its surface is restrictive with many layouts and the arduos work each and every stone requires, means that large or serial productions are out of the question. Working stones to make plates is for either the brave or the mad; but as we well know, the line dividing passion from madness is rather thin. Luckily, some individuals blur this line and make the impossible, possible.

Joseba Lekuona  is a stonemason and an artisan. A master of stone who enjoys defying architectural rules with his creations. Hardness, texture and shape become a means to represent the surrounding landscape as a personalized concept.

The series flysch beltza features black and white striped pebbles. Unique pieces which have been polished by the ocean tides over the course of centuries in the proximities of Mutriku, a small town on the Bay of Bizcay.

Flysch beltza

The Valdorba series use sandstone boulders found scattered along the valleys of Navarra. Only after a careful observation of the environment, Joseba chooses stones of ultra thin grain with ochre and brownish shades. The result is a smooth surface with a warm and inviting texture.

Joseba Lekuona is one of a kind. His model is a hybrid between craftsmanship and innovation which raises his trade to the highest standards of creative processes. A model where one’s conservative intuition is confronted with evidence of impossible deeds becoming possible when pursued with passion.


 Here you can read this post in Spanish.

Bringing emotions to the table

- - Sala

A table shrouded with a tablecloth and a tilted plate as the only prop. A blank canvas, or better yet, an empty stage which will be fully illuminated only when the show begins. A rather empty space  where wood and glass set the ambience. In this unspoilt arena, everything is yet to happen and our guests will not  be limited to the role of mere spectators. We will make them be part of it. We will get them involved in the construction of an experience which to a large extent, will depend on their willingness to seek it out. “Are you willing to come with us? If you aren’t, then our failure is guaranteed”.

How can a restaurant operate like this? How can the front of house staff transcend the barrier that separates protocol from enjoyment? They have come a long way in the last few years, but the result has made it worth it. A collection of teachings, the result of shared experiences with choreographers and actors has made them feel different and therefore, move and project in a different way. They also underwent psychology training hoping to be able to read and understand diners at a reduced distance.


After many hours of practice, our front of house team has learnt that emotions are contagious, and we can influence the way the whole dinning room feels if we push the right buttons. Trust and complicity are required, because in order to make you enjoy our edible stones, first we must convince you to bite into them. Can we make you enjoy eating a macaron of sweet blood? Of course we can! We just need to make you feel safe and willing. The most important role of waiters and sommeliers is not to transport food or drinks, but to build a context where pleasure can be found, to point out the most important details and to tell the stories behind every nuance.

After a few minutes upon your arrival, your anxiety will be soothed with warmth and hospitality. Through body language and a natural speech, our team will charm you and will make you enjoy this quest in search of something memorable.

Perhaps the most surprising thing we’ve found through these innovative dynamics, is that when you try so hard to make someone feel happy, a gleam of true happiness flows through you every time you smile.

Decoding pictograms in the kitchen

- - Cocina, Sala


There is no white canvas nor is there a start from scratch. Many ideas are bounced around years before the proposal reaches the surface where it needs to be presented, the name that defines it or the context it will be served in. Many hours of creative work are required to find certainty and in many cases the guts to defend an idea.

During the four months that Mugaritz remains closed, the main kitchen becomes a hive of buzzing minds and hands. A lab for tests and trials. A creative space where new ideas come up and old ones are reshaped. The working process of the more than 10 chefs who work with the senior R&D team members changes drastically. The stiffness of everyday work is broken, we sacrifice perfection in order to gain flexibility.

81 drawings_mugaritz_creativity


One of the kitchen walls is covered with 81 drawings. Ideas that chefs need to decode and shape into the 50 new dishes for the new season.These culinary proposals go through 3 menu rehearsals where Andoni and the front of house staff, sample the new ideas. Each rehearsal is a stage for the new dishes to perform and show if they deserve a place in the new menu. These are moments of great tension where ideas are ripped open to see if they are viable, unexpected and creative.

This year we had a renowned guest participating in the rehearsals. Toni Segarra, the acclaimed Spanish publicist who came to visit and share the creative process with our team.

Every year we end up making about 100 new dishes including those that need to be adapted to fulfill nutritional or dietary requirements. This must be done in order to keep making exclusive daily menus. We also see more and more diverse ingredients among the ones we use. A pure reflection of how our prejudices yield in front of the cultural exchange we have been part of in our many travels.

During 2014 we will eat dishes that make sound, appetizers that disappear in your mouth and the most delicious cream ever made. A Long story made short, we are finishing the last details of what we think will be a thrilling season…



Sharing emotions: mortar soup

- - Cocina

Emotions are a key element in our perception of space, time and memory. Emotion is a powerful fuel which, in many cases, conditions the way we enjoy our daily routine.

At Mugaritz, we have observed that people don’t just travel from one part of the world to another to simply sit at a restaurant and eat. They do it because they are in search of new sensations and experiences that might get them excited. We have also learnt that most of our guests don’t know what they come looking for, however they all know with certainty what they don’t want to find: a context where nothing happens. It is for this reason that we put a lot of efforts in creating an ambience where emotions can be stimulated as much as the senses are.

At Mugaritz, we work under the premise that there are no set boundaries for knowledge, therefore, we enjoy bending (sometimes breaking) the rules and protocols of conventional service. Our Mortar Soup is a good example; we used to make diners grind their own spices on a hot, cast iron mortar. The simplicity of this dynamic made them feel the best aroma from the spices and enjoy the tune produced by the clashing metals. A very stimulating sensory experience, however, the biggest surprise behind the Mortar Soup was that every table in the restaurant was served the dish at the same time. The multiplied exercise made everyone in the dining room connect with strangers at other tables through an amplified  sensory experience. Bonding through smell and sound lead to bonding through laughter and  joy. Emotions were shared through time and space making us wonder if there are tools we can use to further develop this idea.


During the 2014 edition of Madrid Fusion, Mugaritz shared ideas and thoughts on the concept of restaurants as multi-sensory spaces. Together with neuroscientists, we try to understand how is it that emotions make us enjoy certain moments more than others. We collaborated with Luis Castellanos, from El Jardín de Junio, an expert in Neuroscience who works with language to stimulate positive ideas, creativity and talent, and Professor Adrian David Cheok from London’s City University, an expert in multi-sensory projects.

These are stimulating and revolutionary projects which make us go deeper in the world of sensations and the creation of a unique experience. Hopefully one day we will have the keys to generate emotions in our guests, but in the mean time, we will keep providing a fair amount of excitement and happiness.

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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