Monday, January 28, 2013

Zeruko, a "NO" place for pintxos in San Sebastián

Zeruko is located in the Casco Viejo in San Sebastián, just across the street from Nestor, the place of the tortilla (see post January 7 hereunder)

When I went for the first time I thought it was great, had a couple of pintxos and a pintxo dessert. Giving them a second  chance with a full course meal of pintxos, it ended up being a delusion.
I asked to change the dessert (Bob limón) since I had it the previous time but I was informed it's their only dessert (!)
They served me one pintxo that was old and when commenting on it the waiter didn't want to admit it.
The fixed price for the "cena de degustación" which included a glass of wine, and a series of pintxos of their choice, was too high for the market place but even more: when summing up the individual prices of the dishes I ate, the total would have been less than eating them together as I did with the difference that I would have chosen what to order. Any explanation? 
And then, the owner was very concerned about my picture taking, in case I was going to publish their creative pintxos as if they were mine! So she said before I left. Afraid of your own shadow?

It would be better to be humble, otherwise the risk is to ruin your future with your own hands. Tarantino just said during an interview related to the launch of his last film (Django) "I never stop learning. I consider myself an apprentice, not a master or a teacher, and it's clear to me that the day I'll graduate will be the day I die".

I am posting the pictures of what I ate with my comments because I believe it's a valid place but needs to be re-created in many ways. 

In any case, their dishes are somewhat "pasticciati" meaning they are messy, have too many components and aren't always fresh.

Too bad it's not good enough to enjoy...

Crunchy golden Idiazabal cheese, Pedro.Ximénez gelatin, foie mousse, mushrooms on a toast with cheese
It was too sweet and the toast on the bottom wasn't neither fresh nor crunchy but out of place and the cheese on it was hard.

Morcilla and Foie covered with grinded pistachios
It was good

Smoked bacalao with alioli sauce and parsley spherification on a piece of toast and liquid salad
The spherification of parsley wasn't fresh, the alioli sauce was too sweet. The liquid salad was good and the bacalao was ok.

Lobster's rose on dehidrated strawberry and puff pastry "leaf" with smoke of rose scent on dry ice
It was acceptable .... always too messy

Squid with sponge made with its own ink and wasabi
The squid was too salty
Pig's trotters
They were ok, no big deal
 Solomillo (sirloin) and foie
The meat was very good and cooked exactly as it should while the foie was fibrous and lost a lot of liquid
Bob limón
Lemon mousse with passion fruit spherification, lemon sponge, dehydrated raspberry roll and Tzetchuan flower
It was good although always too messy

Monday, January 21, 2013

Nice pastry shops in San Sebastián

Their windows are full of colors and of a "real" looking old style patisserie.
They also display big and colorful “turrones”which are sold by the piece, cutting them in slices.

Just a few pictures to enjoy!

                                 a decorated hard dough roulade with dandied fruit presented in a cadeaux box

                                         a smaller but always beautiful roulade

                                 same as the roulades but this one is a Flipper, almond filling

                            so many colorful turrones
  more  turrones

           and more turrones

Monday, January 14, 2013

Small but important local Markets in the Basque Country

Local markets exist in all towns in Spain. They often take place every day in a nice building dedicated to the purpose of being a market. Sometimes they take place only once a week but always in beautiful old or old looking style buildings

There are three small although important local markets not too far from San Sebastián. These markets determine the entire region's weekly prices of many  products.
Two of these markets are in Guipuzcoa (Ordizia and Tolosa) while the last one (Guernica) is in Vizcaya. 
For your information the Basque Country is composed of Guipuzcoa with capital San Sebastián, Vizcaya with capital Bilbao and Alava with capital Vitoria, which is also where the Basque Parliament is located but not only, this city won the price as the European greenest capital 2012! 

Basque Country's Parliament in Vitoria

Vitoria: European Green Capital 2012

The Ordizia market is on Wednesdays.
Here follow a few pictures:
the building of the Ordizia market place

the inside of the building of the Ordizia market place

different kinds of mushrooms at the Ordizia market place

game at the Ordizia market place

more game at the Ordizia market place

The Tolosa market is on Saturdays.
Here follow some pictures, one is of the market's building but without the market taking place because that Saturday and during 4 days they celebrated Tolosa’s Fiesta de la Chuleta (Chop Party) therefore the market had taken place the day before in another location. 
To note that this small town is full of life. It doesn't have the sea but has a river and the city life runs back and forth on both sides of the river for which there are many pretty old bridges. They also have a patisserie museum and a lovely puppet museum. 

building of the Tolosa market place

the chop and the choper at Tolosa's Fiesta de la Chuleta

the cook and the eater! at Tolosa's Fiesta de la Chuleta

a serving of meat in Tolosa's Fiesta de la Chuleta

The Guernica market is on Mondays.
The famous Guernica from Picasso was inspired by the suffering of these people. The original painting is in Madrid but they have a ceramic mural copy, they also have a museum and a park dedicated to peace (Museo de la Paz y Parque de los Pueblos de Europa) and they consider themselves the city "symbol of peace" with monumental sculptures dedicated to peace by Henry Moore and Eduardo Chillida placed in the Park.
Here follow some pictures.
Please note the man weighing himself on the scale, so did many people before leaving the market place (me too!)
Because Guernica is so important for peace, I've posted some non-food pictures...

Guernica's market place

the Guernica market scale with person on it

the Guernica market scale without person on it

the bacalao stand was the only stand with many people in line

the complete bacalao family working at their stand

so much bacalao!

the herbs' stand at the Guernica market

a stand selling Feijoa, an Argentinian fruit, from their own garden near Guernica

A copy of Picasso's Guernica in a ceramic mural in downtown Guernica

Moore's sculpture in the Park of the Peoples of Europe "Large figure in a shelter"

Chillida's sculpture, Monument to Peace, in the Park of the Peoples of Europe "La casa de nuestro padre" oriented towards the Guernica Oak

a beautiful sculpture in the Park of the Peoples of Europe: Mujer bailando sola

the Guernica Oak "el Árbol de Guernica" symbolizes freedom and tradition and is located in the garden of the Assembly House in Guernica. Now there is a new tree growing near the famous old dead tree

The new Guernica Oak

Near Ordizia there is another small town called Idiazábal, known for its famous Idiazábal Cheese, made of sheep’s milkThey also produce sheep salami and, believe it or not, a sheep’s ham; in the picture my finger is there to give an idea on how small it is, but so good.
The consortium of all the shepherds that produce this cheese is based in Idiazábal. 
This tiny town holds the Center for the interpretation of cheese “Centro de interpretación del queso”. 
They are all so very proud for what they have, and they all, in each and every town, have so many interesting things to offer!

Centro de Interpretación del queso in the town of Idiazábal

sheep's ham

sheep's ham with my finger to show the tiny size of it


Monday, January 7, 2013

Tortilla de Patatas

this post is dedicated to my friend Germán, an excellent tortilla cook

Tortilla means Tortilla de Patatas meaning it’s made with potatoes, following a specific procedure.

Omlette has nothing to do with potatoes although being the French popular way to eat eggs and also being widely well known, I thought of mentioning the difference.
Some people think the difference between tortilla and omlette hides in the shape, but it’s in the ingredients and the procedure that they very much differ from one another.

Tortilla is the most emblematic and widely eaten daily of all four of the most popular Spanish famous foods: paella, pulpo a feira, gazpacho and tortilla de patatas

The origin of the tortilla might not be Spanish but probably Belgian or from The Netherlands but that has to do with who got potatoes first arriving from the Americas. The fact is that it became Spanish food. It’s like saying that pasta started in China, maybe, but pasta is Italian.

What about the name “patatas”. The first type that arrived from the Americas were the “batatas” which are the sweet potatoes, then arrived the “papas” which are what we know as potatoes, and then the name suffered a joint venture batatas-papas: turning into patatas! A mixture of both names.

There are many types of Tortillas, as many as people who make it.
What really matters is to have eggs, potatoes and olive oil. Then we can discern on the use of organic or just free-range eggs, or which type of potatoes because they should absorb the oil but have a good consistency (Kennebec, Roosevelt, Buffet,  Charlotte, Monalisa) and obviously that the olive oil should be extravirgin. And aslo if onions or not and what else to put in it but the truth is that just using those three ingredients makes an original tortilla. At this point it’s up to your savoir faire to make a good one, that’s another thing!

There is a tiny place in the old town in San Sebastián called Néstor (calle Pescaderia 11). He makes one tortilla for lunch coming out at 1:00 p.m. and another one for dinner at 8:00 p.m. That’s it! You have to go one hour before and write down your name to book your piece. And then, as you will see in the pictures, its’ a piece not a slice. Anyway it’s excellent.

The classical recipe says that you should use 5 eggs for 750 g of raw potatoes. Then you should watch someone make it like I did with Germán and then you can develop your own variation on the theme.

There are many books on Tortillas. I am enclosing a picture of a book called El gran libro de la tortillla de patatas which in its prologue dedicates 36 pages to the complete study of the subject and then publishes the recipes of 13 famous Spanish chefs that sum up 31 Michelin stars.


Néstor's Tortilla in San Sebastián
Nelson has this strange way of cutting the tortilla, not in slices but in pieces
A serving of Tortilla is always accompanied by a piece of bread
It's a piece of Nestor's Tortilla, although it looks like Apple tart!