Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Mugaritz, 2 Michelin stars, Nr.6 - World's Best Restaurants 2015

©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You,
one of the highlights of the Berlinale is the "Culinary Cinema'.
First we saw a documentary about the Mugaritz, a Basque restaurant, and Daniel Brühl, the actor, read the German text, so we could concentrate on the beautiful pictures and witty words.
Then Andoni Luis Aduriz cooked with his crew the menue. It was the first time in my life that I ate a dinner from a cook with 2 Michelin stars, whose restaurant Mugaritz was rated 2015 the 6th best restaurant in the world.
It was delicious, and I might sound philistine when criticizing it as "a bit tame". The Menue:
"Sweet potatoe baked in quick lime, black truffle" as a starter (slightly sweet, and the truffle not overpowering...),
"Threads of king crab with vegetable mucilage, macademia and pink peppercorns (a lovely, slightly sweet shredded mousse),
"Cod fish covered with pine nut cream and fried 'kokotxas' skin" (a white fish cube, a blond cream, and deep-fried fish skin),
"Tuna belly, beetroot and horseraddish" (a bit of colour here, but many people including Yours Truly did not touch the Tuna: coming from Northern Germany I learned in early youth that a fresh fish does not smell. It just doesn't . Full stop)
"Whisky pie" - a lovely dessert.
Conclusion: my palate might not be refined enough to taste the very subtle nuances of the dishes.
I love variety and my teeth are very good - figuratively spoken I don't enjoy white cauliflower with white sauce, white rice and pale chickenbreast (minced :-)
But I learn easily: the Berlinale is a social event - "to see and to be seen" is as important as the movies. The hunt! The endured pains of waiting for hours!!
Not for nothing the opening film was called:  "Hail, Cesar!".




20 comments:

  1. Frau Bucket would've enjoyed reading aloud the menue. I like my fish to taste of . . . Well, fish. I don't mean fish from a well either, although I've seen the fishermen in France put fish in the village fountain for the restaurant owner to find at opening time. Naturally the fish were alive at this time.
    I once went round the back of a posh fish restaurant in Italy. It was actually on the coast so I imagined fresh fish. The empty boxes were from as far away as Vietnam and Panama , and from many places in between. An environmental disaster. I try to avoid such places like the plague. Stars or no.

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    1. Now that is a hilarious observation that makes me laugh - I saw the pretentiousness of la carte of course, but didn't make the connection to Hyacinth.
      Yes, fresh fish (best to see his eyes, but I can't demand that in a restaurant). The cook here said, that Basque fisher catch tuna by angling - maybe he brought the catches with him :-) ?
      The ways food come nowadays from far, far away is really disturbing - and a pineapple in winter may call itself "bio" or "organic" - for me it is definitely not.

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  2. Yes, yes, yes to your thoughts on fish. I like mine as fresh as today. I had to laugh at your first comment because I thought of Hyacinth too. To be honest, the menu didn't set up my taste buds. I remember, years ago, when I worked in the US in an educational program that provided lunch for the children. Lunch was often white sausage gravy on hot white biscuits. Sometimes lunch featured grits - also rather pale. I have avoided all-white menu items ever since.

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    1. So true about fish, Pondside - and the thought about the menue. I mean: "baked in quick lime" - WHAT? WHY? I start to get annoyed when some restaurants call their soup "Süppchen" (you, knowing German, understand - for others: diminutive of "soup". There are a lot more Hyacinth-esque creations...
      Interesting about the educational program for children - my favorite subject! - because that is the only point were you can - hopefully - do something against obesity: children.

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    2. "Süppchen" - that is too, too funny! I can imagine that 'soupette' would be just as awkward. Something that makes me crazy is any sort of 'precious' naming like that.

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    3. Over-rare ingredients - or exotic names - for something ' 'quite - well - nice''. I am always amused when they write: "Filet an Rosenkohlspitzen" - "an" is so snobbish!

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  3. I love to cook, and love to eat good food, (to which my expanding waistline bears silent witness) but I can't imagine why the menu choices wouldn't make better use of color. For me, part of the enjoyment of a good meal is how it looks. No matter how good it might taste, a bland-looking palette of non-color isn't particularly appealing. But the whiskey pie? That sounds rather intriguing.

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    1. Sweet, 'the silent witness', Susan! (Seems like a good title for one of your books!).
      They tried to add a pink peppercorn here and there, and I will concede that it is difficult to cook for so many people - though: that has nothing to do with looks or texture (or has it? Come to think of it: with "mushy" one might feel on the safe side).
      The whisky-pie was really good - but, as I didn't want to appear too fastidious, I supressed the remarks the men made about it: they called a spade a spade and said: "Looks like a dishcloth". Which it did - a blonde tasty dishcloth over a white vanilla-icecream :-)

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  4. I would have been so stuffed after cod fish there would have been o question of pondering on the tuna.I could have made it through dessert, however.

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    1. No, Joanne, you wouldn't have been stuffed - without spite: the codd cube was about five centimetre high and broad - in Germany we call it "quite overseeable, these portions" - and the men looked hungry...

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  5. I was thinking right before you mentioned color that everything looked so... pale. Color is important to the appetite. Other than that the food sounds good.

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    1. Yes, Emma - maybe they thought pale = genteel? Like those women who are clad from head to toe in beige? (I don't like beige, or taupe). The taste was good, though.

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  6. "To see and to be seen" event... but not to smell :) Was the tuna fish smelly? I do not eat tuna fish anymore because of the high level of mercury in it. I know one has to eat it very often to get mercury poisoning, but I still prefer to avoid it. Greetings Maria x

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    1. Hahaha - yes, the fishe was smelly - and I am glad that I wasn't the only person who didn't touch it (then I would have thought that I am hypercritical).
      Yes, Maria, mercury in fish is a real problem. As it is with many food that once were considered (and were!) very healthy (liver for example, fish, mushrooms after Chernobyl). That is sad, really. Greetings Britta x

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  7. Sounds dellicious Britta ...... you are really having fun at the moment !!! XXXX

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    1. Lots and lots of fun, that's true. Jackie. And now I discovered a Brasserie (part of the Cinema Paris near me) that serves really good stuff - quite inexpensive, no stars, but wonderful tasty. You have to book in advance. which I didn't know - so I was utterly lucky when the garcon squeezed me in, without a reservation, and my first time there, at "high noon". (Now I will become a regular :-)

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  8. I can only absorb odd titbits from such an extensive menu Britta but I do like the sound of pine nut cream, I could use that idea. I use roasted pine nuts in my pesto and also in a tart that I make.

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  9. The pine cream was good - surprisingly a bit sweet like peanut butter sauce.
    A tarte with pine nuts sounds delicious - I know one from Crete, with Feta cheese and spinach, I think, and pine nuts and currants.

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  10. I love the idea of seeing a documentary about the restaurant followed by a meal from the restaurant's menu! Now, as for the menu itself, some dishes at least did seem to have that "fussy food" quality to which so many fancy restaurants seem to be prone. Makes one long, sometimes, for some old-fashioned fish and chips (even though that is all white food . . .). But how fun to have such an experience!

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    1. There were different documentaries & dinner - Sven Elverfeld sounded very good too - or "Cooked - Fire/Air" by Michael Pollan and the German 2 Michelin stars Michael Kempf. (Well: next year :-)
      I loved what we ate together at the Hudson river - so: friends and surroundings are important too.
      And adding a splash of ketchup to your above suggested meal brings colour!

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