Beet Happening: The Sounds of Mugaritz in New York City

Photo c/o Per-Anders Jörgensen/Mugaritz

Andoni Luis Aduriz, owner and chef of Spain’s famed Mugaritz restaurant, was in town today to screen his Mugaritz B.S.O. documentary and promote his first English language cookbook, Mugaritz: A Natural Science of Cooking.

The film, screened at Lincoln Center Film Society, is the story of how the two-star Michelin chef teamed up with fellow Basque native, musician-director Felipe Ugarte, for a “gastronomic-musical collaborative project.” The collaboration resulted in a documentary about the sounds inspired by the menu and methodology of Mugaritz, the third best restaurant in the world. Or, as Aduriz told the Lincoln Center audience: “Felipe is as crazy as [me and my team] and proposed that we do something related to music and gastronomy.” And so, the adventure in edible arrangements came to be.

The film follows Ugarte and Aduriz over a period of three years, during which Ugarte immerses himself in the Mugaritz experience. He meets regularly with Aduriz to discuss his philosophy to food, indulge in the restaurant’s signature dishes and spend time on-site at the Mugaritz farmhouse with staff. Drawing from these experiences, Ugarte developed a soundtrack to Mugaritz, composing music to accompany a selection of Mugaritz’s famous dishes, ones that have kept food writers guessing and returning to Errenteria for years: edible potato “stones,” milk-fed veal “charred” in squid ink and beet “bubbles.” Ugarte looked locally and outside of Spain to source sounds and collaboration to season his score — even calling on Aduriz and his young daughter for some instrumental and vocal assist.

Photo: Óscar Oliva / Mugaritz

Following the screening we were treated to a Q&A between Mitchell Davis (VP, James Beard Foundation) and Aduriz. Translating Aduriz was the lovely Annie Sibonney, host of The Cooking Channel’s From Spain with Love. Aduriz spoke about how he selected the dishes that inspired Ugarte’s musical compositions, sharing how music, gastronomy, and other creative pursuits have natural intersections:

I chose dishes to reflect the history of the restaurant. [At the time], I didn’t think at all about the music that was hidden within them. What unites the worlds of music and gastronomy is that behind each there is a creative process — the ingredients may change but things are more or less the same.

While Paul and I aren’t serving up “techno-emotional” cuisine on a nightly level, as Aduriz refers to his food, we cook frequently and enjoy listening to music with dinner — sometimes the food influencing the musical selection, or vice versa. Tonight, we heated up some leftover tortilla Española, serving it with our favorite piquillo peppers, a crusty baguette and an excellent white Garnacha from Altés, in Terra Alta. There was nothing funky about our food selection, but the dinner paired perfectly with Brasilian bossa nova.

Have any recommendations for music that harmonizes well with your favorite Spanish meal? Post your suggestions in the comments section.

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