Mugaritz, a natural science of cooking


Mugaritz is located  near San Sebastian and it is one of many Michelin star restaurants in my bucket list. This highly acclaimed establishment  won the 3rd best restaurant in the world in 2012, at the The 50 Best Restaurants Award. I haven’t realised this dream yet.  I was pleasantly surprised to receive Mugaritz a natural science of cooking, the book from Phaidon to be reviewed.  It’s Mugaritz first cookbook in English. This big, heavy and beautifully presented book contains about 250 pages. Introduction is by award winners Thomas Keller, The French Laundry, and John Lanchester,  author and journalist.  The photographs by Pers-Anders Jorgensen and Jose Luis Lopes (recipes) capture the essence of the place, the commitment, the enthusiasm of the people and the highly scientifically crafted dishes.  
I devoured the book in one afternoon. Every page is a learning curve with interesting facts, science, local geography, elaborate techniques and very particular ingredients and equipments. It’s a delightful and eye-catching coffee table book. However, I really like to try recipes from cookbooks.  I like the experience, the strange interaction with a book and to understand what the author is trying to achieve even before finishing reading the page.   Once you read the recipes, the approach, and specially the equipment list involved your  mind boggles. The lack of very expensive facilities in domestic kitchens is a real problem. Compounded with the unique ingredients its a real challenge!   Here are two recipes that caught my eyes and my embarrassing results.

Cheese Gnocchi soaked in Salted Iberico Pork Bouillon

This recipe calls for a Thermomix, instead I used a blender and hot water to blitz  the cheese. I used semi cured manchego cheese instead of Idiazabal as I couldn’t find this cheese in the UK. I couldn’t find the shisho shoots instead I used fully grown green Shisho, not the same result!

I learnt how to use kuzu and as you can see from the pictures I need to practise the pipping
technique. The cheese balls are so light and the salty and smooth texture works so well with the very slow cooking Iberico pork bouillon.  I was shocked it wasn’t too fatty considering that Iberico pork is about 75 to 80% fat.

Violet Ice Cream, Hot Almond Marzipan, Shavings of spiced bread and green tea

This recipe in the book looks so pretty. The special equipment required is the dehydrator, I used the oven to dehydrate the cake/bread.  I particularly liked tempering the chocolate for the chocolate rolls and making rubble out of the bread/cake.

This dish is a combination of different textures, temperatures and cultures. Every mouthful is a hit of contrasting flavours and it brings elements of surprise. I learnt  about new techniques, new ingredients and their uses.

This is one of the most stunning cookbooks I’ve ever seen to date.  I can’t wait to go to Mugaritz and taste the real thing. In the meantime, I can always flick throught the recipes. 
Available on Amazon