Crying after leaving a dinner won’t fit in any dictionary, novel, or fairy tale…unless you love the kitchen with every corner of your senses, as my friends from Spain:
“Chef del Mar” Angel León and my “Doctor of Plants”, Santiago Orts do. They both assured me I was going to cry and feel unique emotions when they gave me the opportunity to have dinner in Martín Berasategui's restaurant in San Sebastián, Spain.
On the way to the restaurant, my Mexican friend Lydia laughed at me because I was bathed with nerves, like those that you would get as a child when you went to see your favorite artist. Well, that’s how I felt, and not even for consciously being aware that I was meeting the chef, but rather for the excitement of the experience I was about to live. And guess what? When we arrived to the impeccable and beautiful reception, they told me “Martin is waiting for you at the kitchen”…uuufff, there was when I yelled to myself: aaaaahhhh!!!!!!
Berasategui is considered one of the best chefs in the world; full of honors, awards, and recognitions. His restaurant opened doors in 1993, awarded three Michelin stars and it is on the list of best restaurants in the world. He began cooking at the age of 13 and it has already been 35 years of living in the kitchen, creating innovating, supporting many and most importantly, educating others without measure. He has been the school for the greatest chefs in the country such as Chef Andoni of Mugaritz.
I entered the kitchen, escorted by a court of waiters with white gloves, all of them with beaming smiles and impeccable posture…Martin waited for me in the back and greeted me with a hug, as if he were part of my family. His homeliness and peace was that of a genuine being filled with wisdom that has been able to reach happiness by doing what he loves the most and because of that, he glows his high spiritual level.
After giving me a tour of the whole kitchen and cracking a few jokes to ease the mood, we went to the table. I compare the silence of that room with that which must exist in Heaven…there is no music and the tables and chairs are positioned so you are obliged to taste the spectacular view of the green landscape that surrounds the restaurant. You feel as if you were meditating inside a Buddhist temple because there, the only thing that matters is you and what you eat. The choreography of the service, the sublimity with which a plate would enter and leave my eyes, the aromas and the beauty of the pieces of art that passed in front of me time and time again, all caused me to relax and feel the need to sigh and “adore” each plate for a few minutes before tasting it. Not to mention the artist who rotated the glasses of fascinating wines from around the country, that ought of respect, none of them took the starring roll out of any of the dishes but they matched each one of them to perfection.
Martin is capable of taking you through a journey through each plate. You taste each sauce, each protein, or each combination of two or four of them and I assure you that it will be the best that you have had in your life – and the best part, some plates had the power to transport me to my childhood…that is a magical art that can only be achieved with love.
Between the amazing “Milhojas caramelizadas de anguila ahumada” and the memorable “Perlitas de hinojo en crudo, en risotto y emulsionado”, Martin came to pamper us at the table and on top of that, between the perfect “Ensalada tibia de tuétanos de verdura con marisco” and the incredible “Escarcha de chocolate con menta y helado de cacao”, he came to sign us a plate from the restaurant’s china for us to take home as a souvenir of the visit to his Home, to which I promised to go back because, compared to other restaurants in this category where you would only want to go once and that’s it, here is different…this experience must be lived as many times as life allows you to do so.
“We have always procured to be precise with our gestures, prudent with the oven, accurate with the cutting edges, tuned to smell, market savvy, and honest with the stove,” wise words from Martin Berasategui.
Recently Martin Berasategui opened a new kitchen in Dominican Republic…congratulations!!!! A simply memorable experience…THANKS Chef!
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