Is there any future for tasting menus?

Chapter 1: tasting menu philosophy 

We have all tried this before and some of us will keep having tasting menus rationalising that it’s the best way to try so many new dishes. But is it really the way to go?

So what does it mean for you "to try a dish" ? – is it a mental check list that you carefully update after trying something? I hope you don’t have a physical check list – that would be a bit… crazy? (That friend who does that - you know I am talking about you now) Trying a dish can also mean having a vivid memory of it for two years and then again the same binary yes / no entry in your mental data base? The excitement of trying something new is psychological and it gives you a little foodie “high” during the anticipation phase and the moment of the first spoonful - after which you nod to your table partner or to yourself with deep expression of wisdom on your face, thinking “mmm…yeah!....”, or any other combinations of letters and interjections. After this moment has passed – its just gone and its not the same as keeping a collection of dried leaves – you cant look at it again and relive the same excitement. You might not even remember well the taste of what you just had – and that is the point towards which I am driving.

Tasting Menu HedonisticSo what will you remember after trying 20 different dishes in the span of 2 hours? What will become a vivid memory and what just a tick in the box? Probably all of it! In a few days’ time you will have 3 favourites and in a week it will all be gone. Is it worth it then? Is that really the way to try food when you can’t even remember the ingredients or refuse to give your tongue some time to deconstruct all the elements of the dish so you could enjoy that unique combination of flavours on an intellectual level as well? So to really taste a new dish, why don’t you just have the proper sized version of it?! And In my opinion, this makes the tasting menu the ultimate luxury and the ultimate expression of our hedonistic nature. All I am asking is to just think about it. 

Chapter 2: THE tasting menu! 

Now realistically speaking I can’t stop you from having tasting menus from now on because I can’t even stop myself sometimes. A classic "lead by example" case! And since we are on the topic - let me tell you about the best tasting menu I had in my life (so far!).

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Imagine you are in Spain – this is enough to make me happy already! Now imagine you are in Malaga and you want to really treat yourself on your last day of vacation. You do a bit of research, you check your bank account and decide that “yeah, life is too short for savings – what is the closest Michelin star restaurant in the area?”. Then you find Jose Carlos Garcia. You do a bit more research and you find out that it is the name of the chef and yes he named the restaurant with his own name. Maybe it’s a little bit narcissistic but then again, you are someone who is looking for a Michelin star restaurant in the area – so you wouldn’t be the best person to judge that, wouldn’t you? You make a reservation and you are lucky - they have a table because it’s a Monday and at a strange hour – yes its almost illegal to eat in the Mediterranean Spain before 7 PM.

 

There is not that much left to imagine about what happened next  - very helpful and friendly staff who explained the options for the night hinting towards the tasting menu inspired by local history and traditions. Let me tell you one thing, Jose Carlos Garcia definitely explored local traditions - I checked every single ingredient in the menu can be harvested locally in one way or another  -  but the way everything was offered on the table was the biggest surprise. The solids turned liquid, the oil served as powder , the taste challenging your original conceptions of what you are eating - it was something to remember. Scroll down and enjoy! 

I will not spoil the fun by telling you about all the items on the menu but what you just saw was few of my favourites  - both sweet and savoury! 

There is really no point telling the ingredients of each dish from the tasting menu  - like really no point! You wont be happier just knowing what went in those! But you know what might make you happier? Going to Spain! And it doesn't matter if you go to Jose Carlos Garcia and try his brilliant cooking or not  - you will still be happy just by going to Spain  - and that's the derailed conclusion for today! 

P.S. I am definitely going back to this restaurant! 

 Jose Carlos Garcia Malaga