Of the many multi-Michelin-starred meccas of molecular gastronomy that call San Sebastian home, Mugaritz is the playful one, the kind of place where a waiter describes a plate of "stones" -- petite potatoes covered in a gray edible-clay crust -- as rocks he picked up while playing football and where a waitress asks if you'd like some bread before telling you that you actually can't have any, not just yet, anyway. It's not quite on par with the level of abuse patrons seem to love at Chicago's The Wiener's Circle (now the subject of a fairly ridiculous reality TV show), but it is a gentle sort of whimsy that brings the high-concept, high-flying food of chef Andoni Luis Aduriz down to ground level, or at least closer to it.
A recent lunch at this third best restaurant in the world (according to Restaurant magazine) saw the kitchen's 35 chefs turn out a total of 20 two- and three-bite wonders, each crisply presented on pristine white plates or a piece of slate, nearly every one a mind-bending spin on flavor and culinary tradition and more than a few of them entirely, deliciously successful.
Here, everything -- or nearly everything -- from soup to nuts is on our plates. Or, more aptly, from olive spread with edible paper to "Forgotten memory from childhood," a small bite of milky wafer with lemon ice cream.
(Oh, and if all this piques your interest, appetite and culinary prowess, you can try your hand at some of the recipes. Mugaritz has a new cookbook available in stores right now.)