This entry is going to be a bit up and down. I have just been to the North of Spain, Pais Vasco, it was so nice to be up there… so green which replenishes you with energy!
I have, for a long time, wanted to go to Azurmendi Restaurant - Not just for its amazing food but for the concept that the chef Eneko Atxa has created, he is amazing, he does sustainable gastronomy. I like the fact that everything he uses, they either make (wine, they have a vegetable patch, etc.) or it is very, very local, whether vegetables or cheese.
When we visited he wasn’t there as he was opening his new restaurant in Tokyo. The menu was about 20 “bites”, a lot really, but all of them a real pleasure. You enter a kind of interior open garden (glass, wood and plants) and start with a welcome picnic – this is served in an authentic small picnic basket.
The next part is in the kitchen, where all chefs are busy with their pots and pans cooking what we are all about to eat. Then you go to the greenhouse which is full of tiny gardens sections, with mini plants. You eat things that are actually growing there, in front of you. To finish you go to the dining room and sit at your table.
I’m not going to go through everything we ate but it was very interesting the “Truffled Egg”, cooked ´in reverse`. They inject hot truffle juice in the raw yolk and this cooks the egg from the inside out. True slow food! Another one was “Local Tomatoes with a basil sorbet”, this consisted of 5 varieties of tomato, each one done in a different texture, for instance, the bottom of the plate was covered with tomato jelly (totally transparent), the other 4 floating around.
“Lobster Cornet”, the waffle was made with the shells of the lobster. “Canape of wild pigeon with its foie”, and so on. Wonders for the palate!
The sweets were things like chocolate with black olive and sheep’s milk ice cream, or a figs desert which used the milky substance you get when you pick a fig from the tree. Ohhh, I want to have some of this food right away!!!
I have heard that one could visit the vegetable garden they have on top of the restaurant but it was quite late so we decided to go back the following morning, without rushing and with natural light. I was really impressed with the seed bank they have. Over 400 autochthonous seeds and they are trying to bring back forgotten varieties of vegetables and grains….
The title of this is Up and Down, because the following day we lunched in a classic old place in the village of Gernika (made famous by Picasso´s painting). This place, Boliña “El Viejo”, is not called a restaurant as such, it is a Casa de Comidas (Eating House). Sited next to the market their specialties are offal and hake. Soups are served in large pots that they bring and leave on the table for you to help yourself and finish the lot if you feel very hungry (the price for the pot is €3,00!!!!!). Dess
erts are classics such as rice pudding, cheese with quince jelly and so on. A typical Basque home cooking place, run by generations, where all women work, with white table cloths and with the same decoration as they day it opened. A place where men play cards after lunch, just like in the old days….