Tag Archives: 2* Michelin

Seizan | Tokyo | Jan ’15

15 Mar
  • Rating: 17.5/20
  • Address: 2 Chome-17-29 Mita, Minato, Tokyo 108-0073, Japan
  • Phone: +81 3 3451 8320
  • Price: JPY15,000 (124 USD at 1 USD = 121.39 JPY)
  • Value: 3.5/5
  • Chef: Haruhiko Yamamoto
  • Michelin Stars: 2

 

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Raining.

Seizan  (日本料理 晴山) is helmed by a young 34 year-old chef, Haruhiko Yamamoto. The food is elegant, and relies on the high quality of its ingredients, rather than on sauces. It is in the same vein of harmonious great-ingredient cooking as Ginza Kojyu, though I felt the harmonies at Kojyu were slightly better (the dishes at Kojyu have also been on the menu longer). I visited this place because Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa of DEN mentioned Seizan was one of his favorite restaurants. It was well-worth the visit, and I believe Seizan has an even chance of being the next Kojyu.

Other reviews:


 

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福井 黒龍 特選吟醸 (Fukui Kokuryu Tokusen Ginjo). Sweet and dry. Good. (4/5)

http://www.urbansake.com/sake/kokuryu-tokusen-ginjo

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Shirako (cod milt) based soup with scallops and mochi, placed in a hollowed-out mikan (satsuma mandarin). The hollowed-out Mikan was set on a very hot stone, and the heat liberated a wonderful burnt citrus smell, probably due to volatile oils escaping. The citrus taste did not penetrate the soup, which had a creaminess reminiscent of Chinese shark-bone soups. Seared pieces of scallop and browned mochi within the soup. (4.5/5)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citrus_unshiu

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Ankimo (monkfish liver) with negi scallions. What appeared to be bok choy (xiao bai cai), and a well-balanced soy sauce which I think had yuzu inside. There were jellied white bits of fat, that are of unknown-animal origin. The ankimo was a bit cloying as a paste around those jellied bits, and the well-balanced soy sauce (not too salty) cut the cloying feeling somewhat, though not completely. Perhaps it could have been drizzled onto the ankimo instead of remaining at the bottom (4.25/5)

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Matsubagani dumpling – where we were invited to feast on the remarkable sweet natural taste of crab. (Sweetness is meant literally, not metaphorically). A twist in the dish – an ineffable smokiness – was it in the crab or dashi? (4.75/5)

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Meiji maguro (young tuna, by-catch), seared. Smoky, smooth, sourness in the maguro from a bit of vinegar. Delicious. Sweet wasabi. Iodine taste from seaweed (4.5/5)

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Kobe beef, no salt. Barley boiled in syrup (a caramel taste), on top of a ball of daikon. An onion. We were asked to roll it up and eat it. This reminded me of an inverse, inside-out Peking duck roll. (1) The Kobe beef tasted like duck on the outside. (2) The barley boiled in syrup reminded me of Peking duck sauce. (3) The onion provides a touch of astringency. (4.5/5)

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Sawara (Spanish mackerel) with very late-season gingko nuts and ebi-imo yam (so called because it is curved like a prawn, and has shrimp-like stripes). The sawara was tender inside. Visually arresting plate of a Japanese crane (4.5/5)

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/cool_japan/cooking/AJ201212180010

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Anago (whitespotted conger). Good broth. Green stems were from the kabu white turnip. (3.75/5)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitespotted_conger

http://japanese-kitchen.net/white-turnip-kabu/

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静岡 磯自慢 純米吟醸 (Shizuoka Isojiman Junmai Ginjo). Dry. (3.5/5)

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Kamu (Japanese duck) rice, soy sauce-style, with scallions. Scallions were sweet. Not bad, though the rice was a bit much in proportion to the duck (3.5/5). In terms of duck rice preparation, I thought the duck fried rice I had earlier that January at Asia Grand in Singapore (the by-product of Peking duck) was much better.

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Strawberry mousse, strawberries, wine jelly (3.75/5). A refreshing end to the meal, though probably mostly pre-prepared. Desserts at kaiseki restaurants may be either proportionate and elegant, or underwhelming, according to your taste. This one felt underwhelming.

Shigeyoshi | Tokyo | Dec ’14 | “supon”

3 Jan
  • Meal Rating: 17/20
  • Address: 6-35-3 Corp Olympia 1st floor, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku Tokyo
  • Telephone: 03-3400-4044
  • Dining Time: 100 minutes
  • Chef: Kenzo Sato
  • Style: Kappo (counter) Kaiseki
  • Michelin Stars: 2

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Shigeyoshi. Chef Kenzo Sato has been working at this restaurant for 40 years, and named the restaurant after his own mentor. He procures the best ingredients, and presents them very simply. One is invited to savor the pristine qualities of the ingredients. The most memorable dishes were a clam soup that was a meditation on the marine, a whole female snow crab served with eggs and guts, and the silky sweetness of his wonderful supon (snapping turtle soup).


Other Notable Links:

  • tomostyle has two write-ups on Shigeyoshi, on the strength of which I visited the restaurant – you can see them here: ONE, TWO

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  • Persimmon sauce, savory cream of a root vegetable (pressed to identify it, I’d say taro/yam)

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  • Hamaguri clam soup (Hamaguri “the common orient clam”, or Meretrix lusoria from the Tokyo bay)
    • A very clean, sweet taste of the sea (4.75/5)

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  • Matoya oyster from Mie
    • Matoya oysters are purified with UV rays. Chef Sato believes these are the best oysters in Japan
    • The oyster was primarily textural, not sweet and not cucumber (in the way Kumamoto oysters from Washington state are). It was also not salty. The texture was crunchy, with a gossamer outer sheet – the oyster mantle. It was a mild cornucopia of texture, bringing out heat and sourness of its condiments (4.25/5).
    • http://www.miebrand.jp/en/html/matoya.htm

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  • Gingko nuts
    • Pleasingly bitter, in a contained way. Lightly salted. These were end of season nuts

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  • Matsuba Gani (snow crab, female)
    • Served with its meat in its own shell – a luxury of nose-to-tail dining (or is that carapace-to-shell dining?). Its own eggs and guts on top. But the magical moment was when I tasted the sour soy sauce poured into the shell (4.75/5)

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  • Supon (snapping turtle soup)
    • A Shigeyoshi signature, and the first of two times I was served supon on this trip. (the other time, at Den). A sweet beguiling taste which stretches out like a lazy cat across your tongue, coating it with the silky texture and mild taste of the soup. (5/5) Turtle, from Yoshinogawa, Tokushima preferecture
    • Note to self: The fragrance reminded me of the kuehs that were dipped into orange coconut sugar. I can’t recall their names though, and a Google search turns up nothing.

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  • Sashimi (otoro, yari-ika, white fish)
    • The white fish was firm, not chewy – clear and muscular.
    • I found the most intriguing the yari-ika (spear squid) – it was prepared from the inner tentacles deep inside the squid head, once it has been de-membraned. A bite seemed to release starchy sweetness. It was only bettered on this trip by the ika at Ginza Kojyu (4.75/5)

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  • Amadai and gobo
    • Amadai, taken from the area just behind the gills.
    • Salted skin. (4/5) Pickled gobo.

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  • Wild radish from near Kyoto
    • Mild tasting dashi
    • (sic) “jibiye?”

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  • Shrimp kakiage
    • Tasted good, but the batter was a bit soggy. (3.75/5)

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  • Grapefruit jelly
    • Bitter/refreshing

Ginza Kojyu | Tokyo | Dec ’14 | “harmony”

25 Dec
  • Rating: 19.5/20
  • Address: Carioca Bldg. 4fl., 5 Chome-4-8 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo, Japan
  • Telephone: +81 3-6215-9544
  • Price (all-in): 23,600 Yen ($197 at 100 yen = 0.83USD)
  • Value: 4.5/5
  • Dining Time: 120 minutes
  • Chef: Toru Okuda
  • Style: Kaiseki
  • Michelin Stars: 2

 

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Harmony – ingredients perfectly chosen for each other. Ginza Kojyu (with Mr Okuda at the helm) is a restaurant on the upper-end of the 3-star spectrum.

Kojyu, the jewel of a fledging empire from Chef Toru Okuda, was recently downgraded from three to two stars in the 2015 guide. While Chef Okuda has three other Michelin stars and several other restaurants (including Ginza Okuda in Tokyo (2*), Okuda in Paris (1*), and Sushi Kakutou in Tokyo among others), Kojyu forms the basis of his fame. Prior to the 2015 Michelin guide, Okuda-san had always been awarded 3 Michelin stars for Kojyu every year since 2007 (the year of the inaugural Tokyo Michelin guide). Yet despite the drop in quality a downgrade signifies, Kojyu was one of my favorite kaiseki meals in Tokyo (along with Ryugin).

The reason may be that Okuda is now back to personally cooking at Kojyu. Prior to this, I had heard through the Chowhound grapevine that Okuda cooked lunch at Ginza Okuda, and dinner at Ginza Kojyu. His ambitious restaurant empire (which in early 2014 included plans for a New York restaurant in 2015) is built on the fame of Kojyu, so it is no surprise to see him hard at work to regain the lost star.

There were two points of atmosphere at Kojyu I especially appreciated:

  • At every service, ice with flower petals is poured into the sink. As service progresses, the ice pile gradually shrinks down to nothing. Quite a romantic setting.
  • At the counter that seats 8, classical music is played which lends an air of refinement to the meal. Classical music can be schmaltzy, but it works at Kojyu.

At Kojyu I feel there are dishes (e.g. scallop dumpling soup, simmered vegetables with wrapped anago) where there is one central element that is just perfect. It does not have to be the largest part of the dish, but all other ingredients serve it. I have tried to annotate what I felt to be the core of each dish.


 

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  • Codfish milt / thick turnip soup / shimonita scallion / yuzu (4.5/5)
    • Luxurious tastes of creamy sperm explosion. (there is no real way to describe milt without sounding porn-y). Shimonita scallion was sweet and mild, the best exemplar of leek. (it occupies top place on the onion hierarchy along with Cevennes onion)
    • Core: Milt explosion, earthy turnip (surf and turf)

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  • Giant prawn / ankimo / chilli-vinegar jelly (5/5)
    • Slightly spicy jelly, with seaweed.The jelly was a almost-liquid agar. The crunchy gelatin of prawn was precisely offset by a creamy-chunky ankimo. Perfectly balanced, harmony.
    • Core: Gelatin of prawn meets creaminess of ankimo

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  • Scallop dumpling, maitake mushroom, pepper, turnip, radish (5/5).
    • So simple, but perfect. Scallop, lightly seared. Chopped, and then bound with egg-yolk and whitefish binding – perfect uniform consistency, no chunks. Simplicity itself, but the taste was perfection.
    • Core: Scallop dumpling

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  • Tuna with soy and wasabi, hirame (halibut) with salt and sudachi lime, squid
    • The squid was (5/5) creamy and starchy, dissolving in your mouth. Hirame was perfect with salt and sudachi lime (4.5/5). Tuna was decent.

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  • Sawara (Spanish Mackerel); Ozaki beef (5/5)
    • The fish was charcoal grilled with pickle turnip, and was good (clean, though grainy – perhaps the graininess is the essence of cooked mackerel). Ozaki beef was full of clean fat, bursting with flavor. It was fantastic. Served with salt and pepper, or with grated daikon and wasabi…

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  • Simmered vegetables – anago wrapped in turnip(?), tofu, spinach, shitake, daikon radish (5/5)
    • The hazy moon of daikon radish, draped over a medley of vegetables. Each element was good – but the anago (wrapped in something sweet) was sensational – a touch of class – the protein that swept the dish from pedestrian to classy.
    • Core: Anago wrapped in a sweet root vegetable

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  • Rice steamed with parrotfish (3/5)
    • (Way) overcooked fish. If it didn’t undergo rigor mortis when it was iki-jime-d, it definitely went through rigor mortis in the clayware.

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  • Persimmon-apple blancmange (5/5)
    • A delicate milky flavor from the blancmange (thickened milk pudding). Sensational. The creamy milk tastes blended well with apple. Persimmon disguised tartness from the apple.

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Other Notable Links:

  • Gastromondiale“I would call this gem, which consists of six seats at the counter and  a few tables, the L’Ambroisie of Tokyo.  That is to say, Okuda-san, not unlike the great Pacaud of L’Ambroisie, is a true perfectionist who selects the best seasonal ingredients and calibrates complementary and contrasting elements to create incredible harmony.”
  • David Kinch (chef-owner of Manresa)“Chef Okuda is an immense talent who is working within a very codified tradition. His is a personal cuisine with a sense of place, a reflection of who he is and where he’s from. His ingredients are seasonal and top quality. His enthusiasm shows in the generous staff and overall happiness of the space. Unlike a lot of his countrymen he has embraced Michelin. He says foreigners are requesting spots in large numbers to visit the restaurant and he loves it. He says he is exposed to new ideas and can interact with different cultures. “How can I not benefit from that?” he asks.Koju deserves high rankings. It is also on the upper level of the three star strata. Warmth, passion, a quiet confidence in their own abilities make we want to return again as soon as possible even if i have to hope on a plane halfway around the world.Worth a special journey, they say and without a doubt, one of the great culinary experiences of my life.”

 

2014-12-17 12.04.52

 

Sushi Mizutani | Tokyo | Dec ’14

25 Dec
  • Rating: Disappointing
  • Address: 8-7-7 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0061, Japan
  • Price I paid: 34,000 Yen ($283 at 100 yen = 0.83 USD)
  • Chef: Hachiro Mizutani
  • Michelin stars: 2

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Sushi Mizutani today was my first high-end sushi experience. The chef seems to an extremely like-able person (he noticed very quickly I was a lefty), and my dining companions (Americans and Singaporeans on either side) were generous with conversation.

I liked Mizutani’s rice, which has been called “mushy” by some. It was just warmer than body temperature, lightly vinegared, and dispersed like a cloud after one or two chews  – allowing me to focus on the seafood. The meal was generally of high quality, but rarely mindblowing.

The most recent news is of Sushi Mizutani’s recent downgrade in the 2015 Tokyo Michelin guide from 3 stars to 2 stars. The blogger Mesubim hypothesizes that this was because Michelin wanted to canonize Jiro as a living god, and felt it was unduly harsh on Mizutani-san. While I agree that it is very harsh to downgrade a chef who stands at his counter day in and day out, I feel my meal there did not blow my mind – outside of 3 perfect pieces – engawa sashimi, mirugai sushi, and sayori sushi – the rest of the seafood was very good but nothing I felt you could not get at a top-end kaiseki or Japanese influenced restaurant.

But Mizutani is a craftsman who has been doing this for more than 50 years. If his sushi was ever worth three stars, it probably still is around as good as when he got his stars. Mesubim is probably right in that there is something political behind the decision to demote both Kojyu and Mizutani in the same year – but it seems to be aimed at correcting a prior exuberance in handing out stars – and aligning it to recent diner experiences. In Japan, the rank of master may be seen as something you get for life – for example, the sumo rank of yokozuna is a lifelong rank. But Michelin is a foreign guide. Is the downgrade harsh? Yes. Is it deserved? From my visit, yes.

Rating: Disappointing (between 13/20 and 16/20)


Other People’s Reaction:

Liked it:

  • Mesubim – “I tried it Mizutani a second time to confirm my feelings and, I think he has what it takes to be a three star. The bridge is made up of many, serving, preparing and the ambiance is calm, over decorated and a little nouveau riche. I cannot say I wouldn’t go back because I liked him, he is respectful, diligent and careful how he works. His helper is immaculate.”
  • Luxeat – “Everything, from hirame (yellowtail), kohada( gizzard shad) and to “die for” sayori (needle fish,which was topped with sweet shrimp paste), to explosive awabi ( abalone) and uni  sea urchin) from Hokkaido, that was sooo sweet and tasted like saffron, was the summum bonum of sushi. I don’t think it can get any better.

Didn’t like it

  • Kayoubidesu – “This was by far the most disappointing of the “high-end” sushi-yas that I have visited. The quality of fish was generally good, but the rice was very poor. It was soft, mushy, and lacking seasoning. Particularly disappointing was the kuruma ebi – it was served almost cold, and lacked the juiciness and flavour that you would expect at a high-end sushi-ya. Perhaps this was a one-off, but I was not inclined to return. Mizutani-san comes across initially as reserved, but is happy to engage in conversation (although he speaks very little English).”

Best pieces: Hirame (engawa) sashimi, saba sashimi, akagai sashimi, mirugai sushi, sayori sushi, bafun uni sushi wrap

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Sashimi

  1. Hirame (Engawa) – Flounder, outside edge –  Two pieces. Vibrant pink. Crunchy, firm, and sweet. 5/5
  2. Hirame – Flounder – Two pieces. Muscular. 4.25/5
  3. Awabi – Abalone – Three pieces. very tender, though somewhat lacking in taste. Needed soy and wasabi. 3.75/5
  4. Saba – Mackerel – Sliced with an intermediate cut in. Lightly vinegared, erfect swell of sourness, but never overpowering. Lightly cooked on the outside. Eaten with ginger and soy 4.75/5
  5. Ika – Squid – I find Japanese squid to have a magical starchy texture, that melts in your mouth. I have not found this elsewhere. Here, it had the starchy magic, but was a bit more jelly-like and less starchy than Kojyu’s squid, which has become my benchmark for squid. 4.25/5
  6. Akagai – Ark shell – served in strips – a clean, crunchy opaque jelly. 4.5/5
  7. Tako – Octopus – slightly chewy. Served with salt 3/5
  8. Hotate – scallop wrapped in nori – mediocre. While I appreciate the nori wrapping was piping hot, the scallop wrapped inside (like an onigiri) was slightly seared, but too dry 3.25/5.

Sushi

  1. Kohada – Gizzard shad – a salted vinegar taste 4.5/5
  2. Chutoro – Somehow I don’t find tuna as mindblowing as people claim. Sure, it’s a good fatty fish, but not something I’d compose paeans to. Chutoro, barely perceptible sauce. Good. 4.5/5
  3. Kamichutoro – Between chutoro and otoro. No impression, besides it was fatty and I’m sure a flash of good fishy flavor.
  4. Otoro – Wet and fatty 4.25/5
  5. Akagai – sweet and crunchy 4.5/5
  6. Mirugai – geoduck – Crunchy, with a subtle but insistent subterranean taste of clam in the aftertaste. Very very good. A star piece. 5/5
  7. Sayori – halfbeak/needlefish – an amazing fish, dressed in a good soy blend with ginger. Mizutani-san sliced the sayori in half and deposited a tiny mound of ginger in the cavity of the slice. 5/5
  8. Ebi – cooked prawn – very sweet – 4.25/5
  9. Bafun Uni – very creamy, a wrap – 4.75/5
  10. Anago – sea eel – Mizutani prefers not to douse the anago in sweet sauce. The falling apart texture of anago (minimally dressed) completely became a sweet powder in 1 or 2 chews. 4.5/5
  11. Tamago – _really_ sweet custard, a bit rough, a sweeter version of the dissolving anago 4.25/5

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ABaC | Barcelona | Jun ’14 | “maximalism”

16 Nov
  • Rating: 18/20
  • Address: Avinguda del Tibidabo, 1, 08022 Barcelona, Spain
  • Phone:+34 933 19 66 00
  • Price per pax: ~€190 ($238 at 1 EUR = 1.25 USD)
  • Value: 3/5
  • Dining time: 150 minutes
  • Chef: Jordi Cruz [ex: Cercs Estany Clar (Barcelona), L’Angle de Sant Fruitós de Bages (Barcelona)]
  • Style: Modernist Catalan
  • Michelin Stars: 2

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There are for me two pertinent points about Jordi Cruz’s cuisine. Firstly, he does something memorable with top quality Catalan ingredients. As with the brilliant one-ingredient kokotxas dish at Mugaritz, I found the dish Chef Jordi Cruz made of the Catalan leek calçot absolutely stunning; and the lorito (pearly razorfish) very good. As a food tourist, I dislike restaurants which carry no signature of the region around them, as if they were trying to escape their surroundings, as if they were exiles in their own land. A really good restaurant should push the boundaries of what can be done with local ingredients. Perhaps that is why on this Spanish trip, I liked Mugaritz, Azurmendi, and ABaC more than Arzak and Akelarre. In the midst of modernist anarchy (the rule it seems in Spanish 2*’s and 3*’s) one needs these dishes to remind oneself that one actually is in Spain.

Secondly, he is of that modernist-style of ingredient assemblage, which both rebels against the nouvelle-cuisine idea of purity of taste, and as an extension of that culinary philosophy, a loose fluid plating style. “Nothing is true and everything is permitted”, at least when choosing ingredients for a dish. Chefs experiment, and diners pay for the privilege of trying the most successful of their experiments. Here at ABaC I encountered a cosmopolitan bunch – Momofuku Ko’s shaved foie, the intense savory candy of anago sauce etc. Among the novel compositions, a two part foie dish (foie with mole ice cream, foccaccia + pigeon tea + shaved foie) and a flavorful onion soup paired with spherified gruyere dumplings, were the most successful. Chef Jordi Cruz is one of the most talented chefs in this experimental style. His instincts tend toward bold flavors (there were no quiet meditative dishes, unlike Mugaritz), but the compositional instinct is true. My impression of ABaC is of a meal super-saturated with taste and colour -maximal maximalism.

If anything, that is the one thing that I feel could be improved at ABaC. My impression is that Chef Jordi is a flavor maximalist, with the flavor profile tuned to 11 on all dishes. Chef Jordi could yet vary the intensity of flavor in his cooking and deliver a few quieter dishes, in order to deliver a meal that is more than the sum of his flavorful hits, and has its own logical development. The art of listening to a full album may be a forgotten one in these days of Spotify, but the truth that a great album is never just an album of hits continues to apply. But it is a minor point. Overall, ABaC provides a very strong two-star standard meal.


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  • Nitro bloody mary (4.25/5)
    • vodka, tomato juice, salt, pepper, mixed with liquid nitrogen to form a granite
    • paired with slices of cherry and begonia flower petals
    • a good savory start to the meal

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  • the dark bread was crunchy and delicious (5/5) but the olive brioche was a bit cardboard-y (3.5/5), with some flour-y tastes inside

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  • Foie gras foccacia and foie gras butter with sweet corn crumb and mole ice cream (5/5)
    • A dish in two parts. First, a crunchy foccaccia slice with shaved frozen foie gras, with pigeon tea. (5/5) This was a fantastic adaptation of the Momofuku Ko technique of prepping foie. The warm pigeon tea, a consomme, helped to cut the richness of the foie even further. (The shaving already helps by introducing a aerated, fluffy texture to the foie)
    • Second, a foie butter, with corn powder and Mexican mole ice cream (5/5). I remember being hugely impressed by the mole ice cream.

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  • Frozen “Gazpacho” strawberries, tomatoes, basil and anchovies (4.25/5)
    • Spherified tomato water with liqueur

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  • Our Chinese bread, fried brioche, roasted eel, smoked aioli and Japanese mustard (4.25/5)
    • it tasted like its description – a salty anago (salt-water eel) burger.
    • full of intense sweet-salty flavor, the fried brioche and aioli was a guilty pleasure.

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  • Young leeks roasted with coconut ice cream (5/5)
    • genius. barbecued calçots, a kind of Catalan sweet leek, was well paired with balsamic vinegar and coconut ice cream. it seems so simple, but the combination of sweet sourness from the balsamic vinegar, richness from the coconut ice cream really highlighted the mild sweetness of the calçots, which had none of the pungency of leek. simplicity itself, and an apparent variation on the Catalan tradition of calçotada (calçot BBQ)
    • http://www.culinarybackstreets.com/barcelona/2013/calcots/

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  • “Parmesan gnocchi” and morels, acidulated water of mushrooms, bergamot and olive oil (4.25/5)
    • liquid parmesan gnocchi, raw champignon “button” mushrooms, fried girolle/chanterelle mushrooms, mushroom consomme
    • BTW, what’s with menus listing girolles as morels? it’s a common mistranslation.

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  • Oyster with beef, baby radishes and sake (4/5)
    • Gillardeau oyster, veal soup jelly, radish, veal tendon. the veal tendon and Gillardeau oyster were similar in texture

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  • Squid treated as a risotto with hydrated tigernuts and caviar (4/5)
    • Tiger nuts, sweet and crunchy as a chestbut, with rosewater and Iranian caviar. A sweet nut cream for the risotto

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  • Onion soup reminiscence, cured egg yolk, onion water, butter bread and gruyere cheese (4.75/5)
    • Gruyere dumplings, 6 in a row, around a yolk, in an onion soup. Great taste, the burst of mild-flavored cheese coating the mouth when I bit into one of those gruyere dumplings was fantastic

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  • Smoked steak tartare, seasoned beef, cooked egg yolk and a veil of mustard with fine herbs (3.5/5)

 

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  • Palamós prawn with miso aubergine and scorched aubergine infusion (4.25/5)
    • aubergine water, Palamós prawn a la plancha. a sweet combination
    • the miso-aubergine water tasted of a pleasant savoriness, like soy sauce

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  • Marinated Iberian pork with foie gras and barbecued Potatoes (4.5/5)
    • The filet mignon cut of Iberico pork, foie (with spongy texture) with a good sear, charcoal-ed bread; with rice foam. A coming together of very flavorful ingredients, the iberico had a profound flavor. This was a pleasing duet of dishes, the clean taste of white fish segueing into the rich tastes of iberico pork, dabbed with some more foie (a favorite ingredient of the chef). I came to appreciate here two features of Chef Jordi Cruz’s cuisine:
      • Firstly, his cuisine is not a sauce-driven one. Rather, it is driven by the high quality Spanish and Catalan ingredients available to him. Calçots, iberico pork, Lorito, Palamós prawns are clearly meant to drive their respective dishes.
      • Secondly, his style of cooking is a series of compositions that takes those ingredients as starting points; no ingredient is too sacred to be blended into a pop-culture mixer. Even with top-quality ingredients, he does not hesitate to pair them with bold flavors. Not for this chef the nouvelle-cuisine emphasis on how the ingredient tastes. He does not hesitate to put anago into a fried Chinese bun, or Gillardeau oyster with veal soup. When it succeeds, the result is genius – such as the calçots with balsamic vinegar and coconut ice cream. It is a style of cooking with no reference points except the Chef’s imagination. It must be what Arzak once was.

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  • Yuzu & Meringue cupcake (4.25/5)
    • yuzu sorbet, strawberry meringue cupcake in rice paper (obulato?)

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  • Chocolate, summer truffle, and “Tuber Albidum Pico” with yoghurt, flower honey, rosemary flowers and nuts (4/5)
    • I could not detect the truffle – but vanilla cream, white chocolate, yuzu cream was generally pleasant

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  • A dried-flower glass, crunchy yoghurt, flower honey and violet icecream. (4.5/5)
    • Flower paper, violet icecream, blueberry, yoghurt. The violet ice cream had a most brilliant and unearthly blue colour.

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  • Mignardises
    • Strawberry lipstick; yuzu macaron, liquid truffle (pistachio liqueur), tangerine jelly…

2014-06-20 16.16.06

Mugaritz | Errenteria | Jun ’14 | “dialogue”

16 Aug
  • Rating: 20/20
  • Address: Aldura Aldea, 20, 20100 Errenteria, Guipúzcoa, Spain
  • Phone: +34 943 52 24 55
  • Price per pax: €230 ($308 at 1 EUR = 1.35 USD)
  • Value: 5/5
  • Dining time: 180 minutes
  • Chef: Andoni Luis Aduriz
  • Style: simultaneously Modernist and New Naturalist*
  • Michelin Stars: 2

* See Emma Marris’s Beyond Food and Evil for a descriptive essay on fellow Modernist-New-Naturalist travellers, Noma and COI.


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Abstraction. Mugaritz is an abstract restaurant, in several senses of the term. In the first sense of an “abstract idea”, the dishes are like gilded puzzle-boxes, each of which houses a dominant idea or “what-if” in cooking. I saw such ideas in a sandwich composed entirely of one-ingredient – the gelatinous hake cheek (kokotxas); and the lamb with mould growth that approximated wool. In a second not unrelated sense of serving “abstract dishes”, the ingredients are pared down, and quiet moments and momentary effects are allowed to take their place on a meditative stage. The sheer strangeness of discovery, that a turf of grass served as an ornament at the start of the meal is actually edible, struck me on that evening of uncommon stillness. A meditative, quiet place, dinner that evening reminded me of a peaceful afternoon watching rocks at a Kyoto rock garden.

In a third sense, Mugaritz reminds me of “mathematical abstraction”, where the constants of the restaurant experience (the conventional, such as the orthodoxy that every diner is served a dish on his/her own schedule) suddenly become variable (One such dish was “Linking…”, where every patron in the restaurant started making the same aspic sauce with a grinder at the same moment). Such dishes remind me that Mugaritz plays on a larger canvas of effects, a higher-dimensional space than other restaurants. If the heart of mathematical abstraction is to seek a greater generality in order to conceive of how a mathematical system could otherwise be – to produce a series of fruitful and plausible alternative conceptions, then Mugaritz is such a mathematically abstract restaurant. You are likely to encounter at least one dish here that will challenge your preconceptions about dining.

Mugaritz, as reflected in the international quality of the diners, exists as a reference point in the frontiers of world gastronomy. There is a subversive humor at work, which I love. I have found it difficult to write about my Mugaritz experience. The restaurant seems as meditative as a Zen Buddhist temple; the courses as ineffable as a series of Zen Buddhist koans. Through a series of dishes, the restless intelligences of the chef and his staff engage you in a Socratic dialogue that continues long after you have left the table…

Notable Links:


My June 2014 menu –  “Simplicity, originality, lots of creativity, lots of innovation, lots of risk and uncertainty”

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  • A dozen smeared radishes. (3.75/5)
    • A nice salty tomato paste, full of flavor, but it did not curb the astringency of raw radishes, which left a latex taste in the mouth.
    • The idea: Minimal transformation of ingredients, a la the veggie crudites from Blue Hill in New York.


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  • 7 spice Rattle. (3.5/5)
    • A rattle featuring an outer meringue case
    • The idea: Using ingredients to create a musical instrument.

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  • Cultural textures. Several layers of dressed Kokotxas. (5/5)
    • Brilliant. This toast sandwich of kokotxas, a seemingly one-ingredient dish, had the natural taste of gelatin from the filling, pure kokotxas, as well as two slices of kokotxas chitterling, made crispy from that gelatin.
    • The idea: A one ingredient dish, playing with the potentials of gelatin in kokotxas, both in traditional gelatinous form, and crisp form

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  • Mushrooms: house grown colony. (4.75/5)
    • Baby mushrooms, tempura-ed at the bottom (with sour-lemon tastes changing into spiciness). The meaty texture was an ideal foil for the sour-lemon tastes

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  • Lacquered duck neck with herbs and dry grains. (5/5)
    • Duck neck with fresh herbs. All the natural tastes of duck skin with fresh tasting leaves.
    • I liked that the accompanying plate emphasised that the lacquered skin was the duck’s neck.
    • The idea: A duck neck that sheathed vegetables and not flesh.

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  • Toast of roasted crusts. (5/5)
    • Iberico pork neck dumpling – a mantou bun fused with pork skin, And pork meat atop.
    • The idea: What if a pork bun could include crisp pork skin?

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  • Vegetable tiles. A handful of Highland grass. (4.5/5)
    • All this while, there was a turf of grass in front of me. I was served a bowl of tip, and to eat that turf of grass.
    • It was surprising, and confounded at least two expectations – we don’t eat our table decorations, and we don’t eat grass.
    • The grass turned out to be young Ethiopian teff grass, which had a very neutral flavor, though a fresh loosely packed yet springy texture – exactly what you’d imagine a carpet of grass would taste like. It was a good textural vehicle for pinenut cream and malt crumble.

The idea: A secretly edible dish, was all the time in front of the diner. Mirroring the own epiphanies of Andoni Aduriz: “We realized that even what is closest to us can seem exotic and mysterious merely on account of our ignorance: even though we are surrounded by a specific environment, we’ve never really lived in close contact with it.” “It Is clear that today ‘exotic’ is no longer associated with distance. Today, exotic is synonymous with the unknown. And the unknown, or mysterious, can be hiding right next to us, under that apple tree.” – Aduriz, Mugaritz: A Natural Science of Cooking, p26

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  • …decadentia… (5/5)
    • At this point, I moved into the main building to continue with the meal.
    • I was served a great piece of bread, comforting because it was crusty.
    • And served a delicately textured fork, in a case.
    • Along with a smoked eel mousse, eel crisps, and edible flowers on top. I was instructed to eat the mousse with the fork, and then eat the fork! The fork was made from sugar…
    • Using the fork, it imparted a subtle sweetness to the smoked eel and flowers. Textural contrasts from eel crisps. And then… down the memory hole went the fork, as I ate it in 4 bites.
    • What is one to say to such a dish, except “Bravo…Bravo!” to the imagination and the perfect execution of the kitchen. The whimsy and execution of the dish blew my mind. These are the touches that make the trip, no, pilgrimage, to Mugaritz worth it – nowhere else could you imagine serving these delicate set-pieces, these jeweled puzzle-boxes, these gilded conundrums, except at Mugaritz.
    • I still recall this dish very fondly.
    • The idea: Why should The Edible end at the tine of a fork?

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  • Red scorpion fish marinated in its barrel bottom and sour textures. (4.5/5)
    • Fresh almonds, oxalis leaves, brown almond puree underneath red scorpionfish (sour)
    • The sourness did not rise to the level of a Peruvian Leche de Tigre (used to prepare ceviche), rather a mellow sourness. The fresh almonds were tender, and it was a perfect counterpoint to the fireworks of decadentia, a quieter marriage of two great ingredients – fresh and impeccably firm scorpionfish, and the taste of fresh almonds.

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  • (Pig’s blood meringue) (5/5)
    • Every guest to Mugaritz gets a kitchen tour. In 2010, Mugaritz suffered a devastating fire. But the silver lining was that it allowed the kitchen to be extensively remodelled into the modernist wonder it is today. And the small bite I was served was an expression of the empirical spirit animating the chefs – a pig’s blood meringue.
    • Meringues are formed from egg whites because of their albumin content. But egg whites are not the only albumin-rich food available. Another is pig’s blood. The meringue, whipped up from pig’s blood, was seasoned with peppercorn, onion, cocoa and cinnamon. It tasted so much like an egg-white meringue that when told something was afoot with the meringue, I did not even suspect it was because of the composition of the meringue – rather focusing on the condiments.
    • While speaking to one of Chef Aduriz’s chefs (he was not in the kitchen that evening), I learned that they were preparing at least 40 different dishes. But they could not have had more than 6-7 tables that evening. I learnt later from reading the Mugaritz book that this was because of the kitchen’s philosophy in only sourcing the best produce – often limited in quantity – and thus each diner would get a personalised menu that would not overlap completely with any other diner’s.

“We set out […] to access the produce provided by nature in the most direct and purest way possible, whether of not we could find it in the markets, regardless of demand, and without any concern for the two conditions usually required of a product in order to ensure profitability for the producer and security for the buyer, namely quantity and reliability (most chefs need to know they’ll get a minimum quantity of an ingredient, year in year out). No, we will not need a lot. No, we will not always need it”. (Aduriz, p. 28)

“We know that there is insecurity in providing exceptional produce. However, the comfort, regularity and consistency offered by the market of supply and demand also makes them all products more or less the same. It evens out the differences that make them unique. But we want those peas. We know that they are not always going to be available. We also know that when we have them, they will be extraordinary. Even if we have so few that half the diners will not be able to try them. We will give them something equally wonderful instead.” (Aduriz, p.28)

    • The idea: Meringues are formed from albumin. Science!

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  • Lukewarm scallop with sour lentil consommé. (4.75/5)
    • A scallop with fermented lentils. The lentil consomme had the sour taste of off-beer, in the most delicious way possible. It had a gorgeous rounded and complete flavor, its viscosity and intensity of taste reminiscent of the best Cantonese soups.
    • The scallop had the smoothness and integrity of abalone, and interestingly did not even begin to resolve into strands when cut, as most scallops are wont to do. A high quality combination.

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  • Pear. Honey vinegar and toasted milk. (4.5/5)
    • The pear, fragrant and honeyed, hard and crunchy in texture (reminiscent of a calcified Asian pear Pyrus pyrifolia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrus_pyrifolia), was paired with an aggressive sour-honey vinaigrette.
    • Two roughnesses (the hardness of the pear, and the sour-sweet of the vinaigrette) cancelled each other out, leaving a pleasant synthesis of texture and taste.

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  • The game at the table; gambling a bite of bread and heavy cream. (4.75/5)
    • I played a game with my server Mohamed – we would each have up to three bone pieces, and secretly put 0-3 in our fists. At the same time, we would put forward our fists, and guess what the combined number of bone pieces was. I recalled many childhood games from this exercise.
    • If it was for two people, then apparently the winner would get a large helping of caviar, and the loser none – sourcehttp://kuloksilver.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/gehry-arzak-mugaritz-and-hitchcock/
    • But anyway, I made the exercise academic by winning 😛
    • Milkskin, “caviar” made from algas marinas algae, and cream.
    • The idea: Interactive games before food. Game theory in sharing.

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  • Coastal fish with mushroom threads. (4.75/5)
    • Seabream, with crisped seabream bones, and mushrooms, in a pil-pil style sauce (garlic a bit more understated than usual)
    • To me, it was a showcase of supreme confidence from the kitchen to served crisp bones. Any imperfections in preparation could lead to unpleasant consequences, like getting the bones embedded in the throat. I was very pleased to see that at least one restaurant has attempted to use crisped bones.

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  • Cod tongues in a bone marrow emulsion. (4.5/5)
    • Tongue of kokotxas, of the highest melt-in-the-mouth quality, with a garlicky bone marrow sauce. Complementing cubes of salty crisp pork lard, with coriander.

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  • Chicken and lobster Catalan cream. (4.5/5)
    • Catalan cream is essentially creme brulee. Here it was savory, not sweet, bursting with seafood – scallop, shellfish, prawn, something orange that was either uni or lobster brain or lobster roe (you can see it pictured) – and topped with phyllo pastry.

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  • Fifth quarter octopus. (4.75/5)
    • Octopus, incredibly tender between the individual suckers, was pressure cooked to arrive at that temperature. It put in the pressure cooker, and then skinned of membrane. A textural marvel.
    • The idea: Octopus, achieving a balance of tenderness and integrity that you previously thought impossible.

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  • Linking… dip of fried bacon and saffron, cornbread. (4.25/5)
    • Corn, bacon, garlic, and aspic jelly with flowers. Saffron added a gingery aftertaste. The tastes were not what you’d call full-bodied. But the idea was novel.
    • The idea: The entire restaurant performing a rhythmic ritual all at once

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  • Eucalyptus smoked loin of lamb with its cultivated wool. (4.5/5)
    • Lamb with the smell of liquid smoke – black cotton, actually the fuzz from soybean fermentations, inspired by a Southeast Asian soybean dish called “tempeh”. It is a new twist on the “sheep with wool” dish – usually the wool is made of cotton candy (see my post on Borago, Santiago). Here the wool was made with the edible mold.
    • The last two dishes (linking, and lamb), while not purely delicious, are signposts to future developments.
    • Idea: The fuzz

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  • Frozen apple chippings with mature cheese. (5/5)
    • When you first look at this dish, you’d think the shavings were apple, and the crumble on top some crumbly cheese. But it’d be wrong. This is a trompe l’oeil dish.
    • The frozen sheets are actually very cold mature cheese, and the crumble and goo on top, processed apple juice. The effect of juxtaposition is that I just tasted an amazing combination of cheese and apple with every bite, trying to get at the nonexistent apple in the frozen cheese sheets, but gaining it only in the toppings. Delicious.

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  • Starched handkerchief of fruit and flowers. (4/5)
    • Plum tastes in the rice flour.

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  • Lemon Succade with our herbs from yesterday and today. (5/5)
    • A whole candied half of lemon peel (succade), forming a bowl for lemon sherbet. The peel was crisp, and completely without rind. It evoked an egg, playing off egg-lemon similarities.

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  • Caffè latte cookies… Light. (5/5)
    • A light ice cream sandwich – room temperature meringue, and cold icecream. One of the best meringue biscuits I’ve tried (up there with atera’s lobster rolls and saltines). Light taste of coffee – latte icecream

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  • An almost impossible bite: sugary porra (3.75/5)
    • The rocks which had been on the table throughout the meal, were to be grated over a porra (deep fried pastry stick in Spanish, though a swear word in Portugese), in a throwback to the turf of grass in the first half of the meal. It was made of sugar, cloves, vanilla and star anise.

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  • Mignardises: Seven Deadly Sins (Pride, Envy, Wrath, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Sloth) (5/5)

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    • Pride: A gilded but hollow chocolate, the gold reflected in the surrounding mirrors.

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    • Envy: If I had been two, then one chocolate would have been a big gold one, and the other a small silver one. Who’s going to take the larger? The smaller? Similar concept to the game for caviar above.

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    • Wrath: A spicy chocolate marshmallow

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    • Gluttony: Lots of chocolate puffed corn.

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    • Greed: Nothing

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    • Lust: Dehydrated strawberry and flower film. Red, and in reaching for lust, the diner becomes “red-handed”

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    • Sloth: A chocolate truffle. Usually people don’t finish this one. I did.

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* I was left speechless – and I left the restaurant with the knowledge that my memories of that meal would be lifelong.


APPENDIX: Mohamed’s recommendations for Denia: Casa Federico in Denia for paella; Aroz Caldoso at Casa Pepa in Ondara.

Le Parc Franck Putelat | Carcassonne | Jun ’14 | “ingredient Gestalt shifts”

2 Jul
  • Rating: 16.5/20
  • Address: 80 Chemin des Anglais, 11000 Carcassonne, France
  • Phone: +33 4 68 71 80 80
  • Price per pax (after tax + tip, some cocktails and wine): €100 ($136 at 1 EUR = 1.36 USD)
  • Course Progression (for me): cocktail – snacks – bread service – 1 amuse – 1 main – 2 desserts – mignardises. 
    • I ordered a la carte. 5 course, 7 course, and grand tasting options also exist
  • Value: 3.5/5
  • Dining Time: 210 minutes
  • Chef: Franck Putelat [wiki-biography]
  • Style: Classical with modernist touches
  • Michelin Stars: 2

Carcassonne is a beautiful city. Home to a medieval castle that was besieged during the Albigensian Crusades (to root out the Cathar heretics) in 1209, and annexed to the kingdom of France in 1226, today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (thanks to the 19th century restorer Viollet-Le-Duc, and an encyclopedia of medieval defences:

For example, there is your textbook moat, probably filled with fetid sewage from the castle’s inhabitants. Then the Narbonne Gate “castle entrance on the town side has an effective defense system with two portcullises […] The portcullises were operated from control rooms on different floors, with no communication between them, to guard against possible treachery by soldiers.” (A sign in the castle). “The roadway between the outer gate and the inner gate at the Narbonne towers twists first to the right and then to the left. This is not the result of a drunken engineer but is another deliberate defensive device, used at the gates of most fortified castles to make it more difficult for the enemy to charge the gate with any momentum” (Ina Caro, The Road from the Past, p82)

Then, there is the wooden hoarding, “a projecting wooden gallery installed on top of the ramparts as an additional defence during sieges. The beams supporting the hoarding slid into holes in the masonry made for the purpose during construction. Openings in the floor allowed arrows to be fired and stones to be dropped from above. [No, boys and girls, they didn’t drop hot oil! It was expensive and precious, not to mention a fire hazard to the wooden hoardings] The exterior wall also had loopholes for firing arrows” (A sign in the castle)

In addition…

“The top of the wall consists of embrasures (indentations or openings enabling the defending archers to shoot) and merlons (raised portions behind which the defending archers could stand for protection); together, they are called battlements. You will notice that the battlements are only on the wall’s outer face, thereby providing protection only for archers facing outward. Therefore if this outer wall was captured, besiegers would not be shielded from fire from the inner wall.” (Ina Caro, The Road from the Past, p80)

“These thirteenth-century towers do not go straight up and down; rather, they were made thicker at the base so that tunneling or mining through them was more difficult. One tower, for example, has walls six feet thick at the top and thirteen feet thick at the base. the slant also prevented movable assault towers from getting close to the wall”(Ina Caro, The Road from the Past, p82)

Ina Caro also contends that the moat, was a dry moat – a trench, which functioned as a no-man’s-land without protection from arrow fire from the towers and battlements. Was the moat wet or dry? – This is a job for the professional medieval historian to settle.

So why did they lose to the crusaders sent by Pope Innocent III in 1209? Because within 2 weeks the city ran out of water. The nearby river doesn’t pass through the old city.


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Chef Franck Putelat, a second-place winner at 2003’s Bocuse d’Or, became Chef of the Hotel de la Cite in Carcassonne (the only hotel within the medieval old city) in 1998, and set up his own restaurant in 2005, Le Parc. He was awarded his second Michelin star only two years ago, in 2012, and a good friend of Gilles Goujon, owner of L’Auberge du Vieux Puits in 45-minutes-away Fontjoncouse (subject of my next report). The restaurant also gained a 7 room boutique hotel in 2013.

We actually came to Le Parc first to stay. I was recommended this place by the bloggers at Smiling Lion Eats (highly recommended to read), since it was a 10 minute walk away from the Old City (the medieval castle), and the hustle and bustle of the tourist crowd. It was a very nice place to stay, full of chic furnishings, good for couples. At 7pm, after a good half-day exploring the medieval castle, we were hungry and decided to eat at our hotel restaurant.

Some general comments: I enjoyed the ingredient referencing. Chef Putelat really knows how to emphasise the commonalities and qualities of ingredients. To bring out the silken qualities of young foie gras, he uses it like silken tofu in a tom yum soup. To emphasise the meatiness of Tarbouriech oyster, he pairs it with beef tartare and a re-imagined frites. He visually plays with smoked haddock, makes it seem like white asparagus, which is the other passenger on the plate. And there is a Bocuse d’Or competition dish on the a la carte menu which studs springy lard into a classic beef filet, enriched with a perfect jus. It is classical cooking at its finest (it could have only been improved in one way – if truffles were in season, and thus more richly perfumed the dish).

He is also creative in presentation. To joke about his location in the most medieval of castles, he serves his bread on chain-mail “plates”. He serves his olive oil in test tubes. And he serves his alcohol in liquid droppers.

Yet there are points of improvement. My strawberry cocktail is served between lukewarm and cold, an insipid start to my meal. The desserts, while impressive to look at, can be dominated by a single taste (The pineapple strongly dominated the last dessert). And mea culpa, I had a string of misses with the local cheeses. I tried some dishes of the other set menus. They were very good, and probably were a more cohesive meal than my own selections. If I return, I would put myself in the hands of Chef Putelat completely.


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  • Cocktail: Strawberry liqueur, lemon (3.25/5)
    • Served between warm and cool, watery, and when it wasn’t watery, it hit a one-dimensional sweetness. an insipid start to the meal. I think most cocktails should be served ice cold

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  • Bread, served with Picholine olive oil
    • The chain mail was cool, but that meant that crumbs hit the table all the time, seeping through the cracks.

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  • Snacks –
    • lemon olive madeleine (3.5/5)
    • salmon gravlax with lemon cream (3.5/5) [gravlax == cured in sugar, salt, dill]
    • pistachio macaron with duck liver (4.25/5)
      • worked surprisingly well, the creaminess of the duck liver
    • beef croquette (3.5/5)

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  • Amuse: Red Pepper-Tomato Veloute “Gazpacho”, quail egg, squid ink crouton (3.75/5)

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  • Main: Beef Filet “Bocuse D’Or”. Served on January 29, 2003 in Lyon (4.75/5)
    • submitted by Chef Putelat as a competition dish in the 2003 Bocuse D’Or. A memory-intense dish, beef filets studded with cubes of truffle, and salty springy lard. Perfectly done. Accompanied with jus de boeuf, and stuffed artichoke with truffle. I was really impressed by this, a rolling symphony of salting that flirted with the variant porkiness of lard, springy to the chew, and the perfume of truffles. The beef was cooked perfectly, and the vegetables carefully sculpted in the classical tradition
    • the only imperfection came that the truffles were out of season, and thus the dish, relying on the intensity of truffle to complement the beef, fell short of its full potential. However there is nothing that the kitchen can be faulted with. I was especially excited to tuck into this competition dish as it captured a lot of hard thinking.
    • The classical flavors of beef, jus, truffle were rationalised into geometric shapes, the only concession to modernist taste. The pork was a surprising and completely successful combination with the beef.
    • this won Chef Putelat second place [Bocuse d’Argent] at the Bocuse d’Or in 2003.

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  • Cheese. Fresh and Matured from Aude Area and from Elsewhere. (3.25/5)
    • Clockwise from 11 o’clock: Bethmale cheese, Cantal cheese 24 months, Ecu Cathare
    • All a bit dry and salty, harsh to the tongue, not really to my taste.

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  • Dessert 1: Pistachio Meringue, Cherry-Orange Sorbet, Lime Spiral (4.25/5)
    • Pleasant

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  • Dessert 2: Satin Pineapple, Lime, Juniper Berries Sherbet (4.25/5)
    • A green hollow cuboid tunnel of lime sugar, in it a traffic buildup of pineapple-stuffed-meringues. precariously perched on the edge of a square pistachio cake in the hollow of which is filled with pineapple, topped with juniper berry sherbet. The tension of the eye rests on the thin biscuit stick forming an X with the lime cuboid. Puree dots.
    • This dish looked very pretty. It was however a bit too sweet, the candying of pineapple going a bit far. The look was sophisticated, the taste less so, more like some pretty pineapple candy.

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EMOTION… MENU

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  • White Asparagus from Mr Cardoso at Saint Couat. Smoked Haddock, Yellow of Crystallized Egg, Squid Ink Bread (4.75/5)
    • a really playful dish, where the ring of smoked haddock was cut to look like white asparagus. I always enjoy these surrealist contraposition of ingredients when they arise (aterarazor clams, garlic, almond; restaurant andresquid and rice). but this was no slouch on the taste front. a very good cream of white asparagus accompanied the juicy spear

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  • Shell, Razor Clams and Coriander, Albedo of Lemon. Short Lived Foie Gras, Citrus Broth From Bachès (4.5/5)
    • Tom yum soup, coriander, and seared foie gras. I don’t know what the foie was, but this was supremely sweet and springy, like the most silken tofu (and was even slightly more silken than the Fat Duck version. was the goose very young?). no doubt the Thai preparation was meant to evoke its tofu-ish qualities. A very good dish.

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  • John Dory, Almond Cream, Girolle, Olive Emulsion

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  • Raw Milk Reblochon From Savoie Leeks (4.75/5)
    • a really addictive reblochon espuma. sweet and milky, in a satisfying adult cheese-candy experience.

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  • Poached Rhubarb in the Vanilla and Anis. Blood Orange Sherbet with “Sapon”

CLASSIQUE… FICTION… MENU

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  • Tartare-Frite. Tarbouriech Oyster, Beef Tenderloin, Monalisa (4.5/5)

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  • Argenteuil. Green Asparagus, Frogs Off the Bones, Crust. (4/5)
    • green curry. Chef Putelat in a Thai mood.

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  • Barigoule. Boneless Red Mullet, Purple Artichoke, Orange Powder.

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  • A La Française. Veal Chop, Hay From Ruis, Green Peas.
  • Cheese. Fresh and Matured from Aude Area and from Elsewhere.

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  • Banana-Split. Gariguette Strawberries, Chocolate from Peru, Almond Ice Cream.

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  • Eclair. Choux Pastry, Meyer lemon, Micheline Sherbet
    • Micheline liqueur, we were told, similar to green chartreuse.