Katherine Scott. The Basque Country diner, helmed by one of the world's most influential chefs, Andoni Luis Aduriz — well known for his experimental dishes — recently introduced a new dish to the menu called "noble rot" – literally a mouldy apple. Naturally, Instagram is having a field day with it.
Diners can expect to fork out upwards of $304 a pop (204 Euro) for the 25-course tasting menu featuring said mouldy fruit plate.
The dish is named after the colloquial term for the fungus botrytis, which causes the wine grapes to rot and intensify in sweetness and flavour complexity, making them ideal for dessert wines. Sometimes this happens naturally from fungus spores present in the environment, and sometimes wine makers inoculate the grapes with spores deliberately.
Here, the conspicuously fuzzy apple is teamed with four glasses of wine representing the four countries that create botrytised wines, namely France, Germany, Austria and Hungary.
And in case there was any doubt, the restaurant team have deliberately administered the fungus to the apples — they haven't just been forgotten and left to rot in some dank corner of the kitchen.
In this instance, the restaurant's research and development team worked closely with the sommelier teams to shed a spotlight on this unique process in wine making, and create a whole dish that represents "the beauty and the taboos surrounding fermented and rotten things," a restaurant spokesperson told Eater.
The team at Mugaritz meticulously document all of their research and dish concepts on the website — if you're a fellow food nerd, it makes for some fascinating and thought-provoking reading. The "Noble Rot" dish is a product of the team's ongoing obsession with fermentation.
Here, the team describe the mouldy apple's exterior as 'white velvet', and in the restaurant's accompanying stunningly-shot film (see above) the fuzzy fruit looks a far cry from something you'd find in a smelly old trash can.
"A great metamorphosis lies behind the white velvet of this apple. The peculiar resemblance of culture and cultivation is expressed through the art of fermentation. The transformation of food through a fermentative process withholds a world of possibilities to modify the aromatic expression and texture potential of food."
The verdict may still be out on the taste, but the dish certainly challengers the diner and makes them view the science and possibilities of fermentation in a different light.
The dish is dividing users on review website Trip Advisor, with some claiming to give it a miss ("Save yourself a lot time and money by giving Murgaritz and its rotten apple, so rotten we add a dust of penicillin (I’m not kidding) a wide berth"), and others touting it among their favourite dishes on the menu ("From raw asparagus to a 'rotten' apple, infected by two different cheese molds, it was amazing!").
So what do you think – would you give the dish a try?