On the 12th June, Mirazur reopened after 80 days of forced closure. We went to Mentone to ask Mauro Colagreco to present this new phase in his restaurant and - ça va sans dire – to taste his menu. Content and photos by Giovanna Abrami
The gardens and the vegetable gardens at Mirazur: it’s among the trees of lemons, oranges, grapefruits and mandarins, among the plants of tomatoes, courgettes, and raspberries, among the aromas of flowers and aromatic herbs that you can find the soul of Mauro Colagreco’s project in Mentone. This is where the Argentinian chef, 3 Michelin stars, has found clarity and balance during the lockdown. He had already told us about it in May (see here), and had anticipated he wanted to give Les Sanctuaries de Mirazur a more prominent role in his project, a choice he became aware of during the forced closure.
“A garden will give you more certainties than any philosophical system” German philosopher Ernst Jünger wrote. If on the one hand contact with the earth and observing the rhythm of nature has allowed the chef to find serenity during the emergency, on the other, the time spent in his vegetable gardens led him to reinforce an awareness – a change is necessary – and to develop a feeling of urgency and a new approach in his cooking: «I could not consider the idea of opening like before», he told us.
Mauro Colagreco in the gardens at Mirazur, a haven and a strong point in the lockdown, a source of inspiration for the reopening. It’s here that Mirazur Experience begins, a new chapter for the three-starred restaurant. Photo Matteo Carassale
For many, the lockdown acted as a magnifying glass – of feelings, thoughts – and as a highlighter of the priorities we all have: what can we do without? For Mauro it reinforced complex and urgent thoughts on what is happening to the planet, on production and consumption models (what do we really need? What is true richness?), on the over-exploitation of natural resources. Thoughts that he had mostly by himself in his kitchen, and which ended up being projected into his cuisine and his art.
In this new chapter of the best restaurant according to The World’s 50 Best, the phases of the biodynamic calendar, which have already been regulating the vegetable garden and gardens at Mirazur, will now make their appearance in the kitchen too, with four variations on the menu: Mirazur Universe Root, Mirazur Universe Leaf, Mirazur Universe Flower, Mirazur Universe Fruit. According to the biodynamic calendar, the passage of the moon from one constellation to the other regulates the development of different parts of the plant: depending on whether the satellite transits in a sign of Earth, Water, Air or Fire, the vital energies will concentrate respectively in the roots, leaves, flowers or fruits. Depending on the day of the visit to the restaurant, guests will be served a menu that will explode one of these themes, interpreting everything that the gardens, mountain and sea surrounding – and forming – the Mirazur Universe have to offer each time.
Mauro Colagreco with his sous-chefs Florencia Montes and Donato Russo
The view from Mirazur
Jardines del Mirazur, five gardens, five pulsating hearts at Mirazur Universe – where they grow over 300 varieties of plants, following the biodynamic and permaculture philosophies
The chef wants his guests to stop, for a moment, and remember. He wants them to remember how little we really need, how beautiful and rich the world surrounding us is. He wants to tell us about a time when, in ancient cultures, farmers and men looked at the sky and followed the rhythm of the stars to decide the stage in their farming, an age when there was still a relationship between time, space and food, which was destroyed by new production and consumption models which the chef aims to dismantle, or at least scratch. How so? By immersing his guests in the world of observation, of sensorial stimulation and contemplation, through the gardens, first of all, and then through the dishes at Mirazur, which follow those ancient rhythms marked by the Moon. Dishes with clear and clean flavours and aromas, purified, light and rich in colours; a vegetal cuisine, following the typical approach of the Argentinian chef who knows how to blend with unique skill the products of the mountains, the sea and the vegetable gardens.
“When the child was a child,/to feed himself he only needed bread and apples,/and this is still the case./When the child was a child,/berries would fall in his hand […]/and this is still the case,/the fresh nuts would scrape his tongue,/and this is still the case,…” .
«Products are not just the result of the season and the place where they are produced, there’s something more subtle that reflects another universe, that of planets and stars». Words of Mauro Colagreco, photo by Matteo Carassale
In the kitchen of Mirazur. «Mushrooms are fruits of the forest» Colagreco explains. Indeed what we pick as mushrooms is the fruit of a thick net of underground filaments, the mycelium
So the new Mirazur Experience starts from its vegetable gardens: guests are guided underneath a tree, invited to sit comfortably and take off, if they want to, their shoes – the recommended dress code is casual and smart - and together with their shoes, the useless superstructures and preconceptions so that they can be guided into a sensorial journey. Underneath the generous shade of a mandarin or an orange tree, sitting on the grass covered with a chequered table cloth, while birds chirp and they sip a refreshing drink made with freshly pressed juices and herbs, they will enjoy the contemplation of the forces of nature.
The entrance to Mirazur Universe is through its gardens. Here they will receive the chef’s welcome, served in a picnic basket; a triumph of colours, aromas, tactile sensations and very fresh flavours: Green apple rose with camomile tea; Fresh watermelon with salt and pink pepper; Tartelette with nasturtium mayonnaise and cucumber discs; Tuiles of white and black sesame; Pumpkin seeds with cumin cream; Gelatine of red peppers with lime zest… This for those who, like us will go on a Fruit day.
Gelatine of red pepper with lime zest, among the welcome tapas served in the gardens of Mirazur, in the shade of the orchard
Tuiles of pumpkin seeds and black and white sesame seeds with a cream of cumin
The journey, in any case, will never be the same. Even on the same day, different tables will probably be served different takes on the same dish: «I removed the à la carte menu already from the first year, a natural consequence of working with what the vegetable garden, the mountains, the sea have to offer through small suppliers». A choice that wants to re-establish the relationship we mentioned earlier, between product, space and time.
Like with any artwork, the menu of Colagreco can be the enjoyed at different levels. Guest themselves decide up to which point they want to be involved in this sensorial journey.
On the day of our arrival at Mirazur the Moon was in Sagittarius, a fire sign. We therefore could explore a (fantastic) tasting menu “inspired by the regenerating force of nature” and interpreted through the fruits available this season - aubergines, courgettes, peppers, cucumbers, raspberries, mushrooms… - which we present through the following photos.
When the Moon transits in a fire sign, the theme in the menu is that of fruits. Among them, in the summer, we have tomatoes. In the vegetable gardens of Mirazur, 30 different types are grown
Transforming the new health protocols into acts of beauty. Guests at Mirazur are not offered a sanitising gel but a ritual cleanse in the shape of a hydroalcoholic solution
We heard the comments of a woman deeply moved by the dishes she tasted. We saw her thanking chef Colagreco with emotion for the experience he had given her, so touched she started to cry. Mauro told us this happens often. What we tell the chef is that the name of that beautiful woman, with hair of silver and eyes of a blue more intense than the sea that appears through the windows of Mirazur, is Diana, the Roman goddess of hunting, of forests… and of the Moon.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
King prawns from Sanremo, raspberries and nasturtium. The acidity of raspberries, the sweetness of the prawns and the delicately spicy flavour of the leaves of nasturtium. Green and red, which are complimentary colours. Perfection
Courgettes, stracciatella and caviar
Trilogy. Tomato tarte, anchovies, capers and flowers of wild fennel; Gelatine of yellow tomato, saffron and flowers; Green tomato gazpacho and cucumber with green tomato sorbet and sea fennel
Prawns, local Girolles mushrooms, pistachios. With Madame Le Guen’s Pigeon, the dish with the strongest and most intense flavour. Magnificent
Sea cucumber, courgettes, bagna cauda and black garlic
Left, the bread shared, served with oil aromatised with lemon and pink pepper, and an extract of Ode to Bread by Pablo Neruda. Right, bread made with 100% rye with levain, liquid sourdough made from fermented fruit juice. Both are made at Mitron Bakery, Mauro Colagreco’s bakery in the heart of Mentone
Turbot, cucumber, yogurt and fennel flowers, a very delicate dish, transparent like glass
Porcini (the "fruit of the forest"), hazelnuts (nuts), chocolate (extract from the seeds of the fruit of the cocoa tree) from Maison Duplanteur. A dessert that gives a superb take on the theme of Fruit
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born in 1979 in Milan, her mother is from Alto Adige and her father is a Croatian grown up in Trieste: she’s the daughter of Italian irredentism and is strongly attracted by the southern hemisphere. She has written (for Diario and Agrisole among others), translated (includingPellegrino Artusi’sLa scienza in Cucina ), eaten and tasted – without ever stopping taking pictures – in Argentina, Chile and Guatemala for over 5 years. Since she had to move to Italy, she went as south as she could. Since 2016 she lives in Sicily, and collaborates with Wine in Sicily and Identità Golose
Chef Mauro Colagreco and one of the dishes on his menu dedicated to fruit that most impressed us: Zucchini and Hermit crab
The Kulm Hotel in Sankt Moritz and chef Mauro Colagreco
Mauro Colagreco with Audrey Azoulay, Unesco's Director-General, as she awards the Italian-Argentinian chef with the title of Unesco Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity