Foams, foams and more foams. Popularised by Ferran Adria and often critiqued recently for being passé and unnecessary fuss, Martin shows us how its supposed to be done….
Okay so I could have left a little wiggle room in my tight to-the-second schedule holiday. But I didn’t. So every moment of the stunning journey from Barcelona to San Sebastian was spent in anxiety: would we make the 22.15 cut-off for the tasting menu? Despite MD’s attempts at sabotage insisting we go to the flat first to change, we did make it at 22.15 on the dot, looking a bit disheveled and rather ravenous. The price and ingredients such as oysters, truffles, gels and slushes gave the impression that this would be a pretentious restaurant with an over complicated menu. Yet every dish was eyebrow raising tasty.
The first course was sea crunch tempura with txakoli wine mayonnaise, citrus gel, kumquat, potato firewater, olive and anchovy. Otherwise known as a salty savoury mouthful of deliciousness bursting with flavour
Then a mille-feuille of smoked eel sandwiched between caramelised foie gras with spring onion, sat on top of thinly sliced green apple. A rich, successful example of the sweet and fish combination.
A few courses into our meal and Martin himself came out to greet each and every diner at their table. He shook hands with us all and wish us a pleasant meal, insisting that we send back any thing we didn’t enjoy. He seemed like such a humble, kind man and was very accommodating to photos and chit-chat.
Moving on, we had our first taste of his masterful foams. Spooning the foam into your mouth it spreads across every tastebud, the taste of red shrimp opening up light and airy with fragrant dill and ‘venta del baron’ olive oil. It was like the most delectable delicate prawn cocktail in the world.
Monkfish liver was next, the soft foie gras of the sea which I love anyway, was marinated in sea chlorophyll and served with a seaweed salad, some light refreshing fruit (note that precise dimensions really do make a difference to the mouthful) and of course, more foam!
A man after my own heart, just look at this beautiful truffle dish. Who wouldn’t want bubbles of truffle and fermented wild mushroom smouldering the inside of their mouth with earthy tastiness? The descriptions says there was collard greens in there too somewhere…
Salad in the shape of a firework, and surprisingly enough was indeed explosive (hyperbole for the metaphor, it’s still salad after all) in flavour. Vegetable hearts, with textures of seafood, cream of lettuce and iodized juice (tried googling iodized juice, but the results were all for this dish or a colourful set of pliers so I’m still not sure what this is), it was so tasty that I decided I like the flagrant presentation.
Then a delicately poached plump Gorrotxategi (Spain) egg, resting on vibrant liquid herbs with chewy dewlap carpaccio (the chorizo look-a-like).
But it was only a short break before we were back to the foams, this time a delicate sea and aniseed flavour carrying beautifully tender scallops and crispy swiss chard stems.
It was a sad moment of contemplation when we reached what would be our final fish course at this glorious restaurant, and as though to compensate our roast hake fillet was topped with truffled spinach, sparkling K5 and the final smooth expanding foam of the night.
*MEAT COURSE TBC*
The nut free version of the ‘saffron veil with melt in your mouth macaroons and tea flower ice cream’ was a selection of ice creams with some intricate sculpture holding more sweet treats. I’m fine with underselling that because the next course was so good…
The last dessert was one that we both adored and I would love to learn to emulate. The rich chocolate mousse contained crunchy cocoa nibs, and was a perfect match with the boozy whisky cream, but the surprise was the vegetal lift of the green beans and mint. It was an excellent ending to an exception meal.