Ay Andoni, ?Mira que te las traes!

Generalmente escribo en castellano, pero este art?culo alabando a los espa?oles y especialmente a Andoni Luis Aduriz, del Mugaritz en San Sebastian Espa?a, est? tan bueno que quiero compartirlo con quienes saben hablar ingl?s.

Despu?s har? una traducci?n resumida del mismo y les contar? m?s sobre este destacado y simp?tico vasco que conoc? el a?o pasado en el Sal?n Internacional de Gastronom?a y hoy considero mi buen amigo.

Cuando otros hablan bien de mis amigos, me alegro. Sobre todo si es nada m?s y nada menos que ?Frank Bruni en el New York Times!



September 25, 2005
San Sebasti?n

I thought about London, where the turnover in restaurants is faster than in other European cities, and the Fat Duck, the international gastronomic darling of the moment, is just a short drive or train ride away. But the pound is a punishing currency, and who really longs to taste the fruits of the English soil or talks of English wine?

I considered Paris, which wants only for innovation, not for transcendence, but it seemed too familiar. I toyed with the idea of Turin, which is now gussying itself for the Winter Olympics and serves as gateway to the Piedmont countryside, with its truffles and Barolo, its agnolotti and vitello tonnato. But the variety among restaurants in that patch of northern Italy is limited.

And so, as I pondered where in Europe I would go right now if my sole agenda were to eat, I fixed on the area around San Sebasti?n, along the Basque coast of northern Spain.

I’ve never been there, but that’s not the reason it draws my eye and appetite. San Sebasti?n makes a dual promise that many European destinations don’t. It’s old and new. Traditional and trailblazing. A place to which a food lover might retreat for its rustic, timeless culinary virtues and a place to which a food lover might flock in order to be conversant in the here and now.

San Sebasti?n is humble, a trove of unfussy bars with pintxos, which is what tapas are called there. These pintxos use seafood from nearby waters and other local ingredients. By all reports, a diner needn’t plot carefully to find the baby squid of his or her desires, the ham of his or her dreams.

But San Sebasti?n is also oh so haute. The area constitutes a veritable galaxy of Michelin stars, supposedly more of them per capita than anywhere else. Among the stand-outs is Mart?n Berasategui, outside town at Loidi Kalea, 4, Lasarte, (34-943) 366-471, which has been around more than a decade.

Arzak, Avenida Alcalde Jose Elosegui, 273, (34-943) 278-465, has been around even longer, and it established its creator, Juan Mari Arzak, as a sire of modern Spanish cuisine, with its technical derring-do, its exuberant playfulness. At a recent conference, he showcased an exploding dessert, using dry ice to turn a strawberry milkshake into a rising froth of bubbles.

Mr. Arzak was a mentor to Ferran Adri?, who works in and around Barcelona, which is arguably the epicenter of the culinary avant garde. But there’s plenty of progressive gastronomy around San Sebasti?n, including at Mugaritz, a relatively new addition.

Mugaritz, Aldura Aldea, 20, Errenteria, (34-943) 522-455, is the laboratory of a widely touted wunderkind named Andoni Luis Aduriz, and laboratory is apparently the right word, in the sense that Mr. Aduriz typifies the way a new generation of chefs uses the tools and precision of science in the service of cooking. Mr. Aduriz actually studied at a liver-transplant clinic to better understand and manipulate the organ. He prepares foie gras in an elaborate, multistep process.

As is the fashion with culinary acrobats these days, he constructs long tasting menus of Lilliputian portions, concentrating on discrete pinpoints of flavor and unexpected ingredients. He apparently serves raw thistle leaves. He reputedly does a hay consomm?.

I’d like to try it, but I’d also like to know that my next meal might be a simpler succession of pintxos, including a clump of saut?ed mushrooms and a cluster of chorizo, both reflective of a particular place’s timeless bounty. In San Sebasti?n, I could do just that.

FRANK BRUNI is the restaurant critic for The Times.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Roberto

    La verdad que tienes razon, Andoni es muy buena gente y se lo merece, Frank Bruni es ultra respetado aqui en nyc. De paso te felicito de nuevo por tu pagina web que esta buenisima.

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