June 14, 2006

Not your classic French 3-star

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This post was written 7 years after the actual event, so memories are a little hazy…

Took a taxi out to have lunch at Martín Berasategui, one of the 3-star restaurants I'm hitting on this trip.  Upon arrival we were led through the lovely indoor dining room, and asked whether we would like to sit indoors or out on the patio.  As it was such a nice day, we decided to park ourselves outside.

No sooner had I sat down than when the scolding started… I decided that since we were dining at a 3-star restaurant - and similar establishments in France are all very formal - we should dress up for lunch.  I wore a summer suit but left out the tie, while I forced asked G to wear a little cocktail dress.  She hated the idea but I insisted.

We were way, waaaay over-dressed.  There was only 1 other table on the patio, and one of the guys was wearing a T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops!  This was an eye-opener.  So THAT's how you dress to dine at a Michelin 3-star restaurant in this country…

Anyway, we were here to enjoy the food.  We were told that we could order anything from the menu in half portions, which was absolutely awesome!  This meant that we could sample a few more dishes with the reduced portion size.  Very cool.

Started with a flute of Champagne, but no longer remember which…  Also had a cocktail of Txakoli con naranjas.

Ostra con clorofila de berro, rúcola y manzana, crema lemon grass e hinojo y hierba oxalis acetosella

Callos guisados a la "manera tradicional" - in half portion

Manitas de cerdo Consorcio de Jabugo rellenas, con membrillo, berza y Artequeso Menchego - in half portion

Pichón de Ariaz hecho en asador con un hueso de pasta fresca cubierta de setas al cebollino - a wonderfully delicious pigeon.

Tarta fría de hojaldre con manzana y creme helada - delicious, flaky apple tart.  We were so full and wanted only a half portion, but they couldn't exactly make half a tart, so we took the whole thing…

The food here was absolutely delicious, and the atmosphere was tranquil with views of the surrounding green lawn.  So what could possibly go wrong?  Well… it appears that the lawn had recently been fertilized, and as we sat enjoying our lunch with the gentle summer breeze, we also got to enjoy periodic whiffs of… manure.  Now how many people can say THAT about their 3-star dining experience?!

We did not get to meet Martin Berasategui himself, because he doesn't speak English and didn't feel comfortable greeting us through his staff.  Oh well…

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