Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mercado do Abastos, Santiago de Compostela's marketplace

Beautiful marketplace, the second most visited place in Santiago de Compostela, obviously the first place is the Cathedral

This market has two outstanding culinary situations:

-       The most original place is a tiny bar inside the marketplace where you can have a coffee of a glass of wine with a tapa, but you can also buy your own food at the market stands and they will cook it for you. This is how it works: you need to buy al least 500 g of the same prodcut and keep the invoice. Then, for 10% of the price you paid and and extra 3,50 euro per person, plus bread, wine, coffee and whatever else you might order, they will cook it and serve it for you at one of their 6 tables. I was alone so what do you think I bought? 1 kg (shells included in the weight) of zamburriñas which are small scallops. Look at the picture, they were delicious!

the marketplace buildings

inside general view of the market place

octopus boiled on the spot and served as a tapa in the middle of the market

free range chickens stand

meat stand

a fruit stand

another fruit stand


they even have a fancy patisserie stand

the zamburiñas (miniscallops) I ate

-       the other interesting place is the 2.0 (pronounced "Dos Punto Zero") restaurant and bar just outside the market but still a part of it. Great idea (local food, local wines, creative) quite good tapas but could be much better and still has a long way to go in public relations. In Madrid they just won a national price about a month ago, not the first one they receive in only 4 years of existence. Too bad they aren't humble, usually something that is or is not in your way of being, hard to achieve, should be an inner attitude towards life and the public. I have anyway posted a few of the pictures since the empanada serving was excellent, other things were bad like a piece of brownie that was too cold, as well as some of the servings like the razor clam. Other servings were trivial like salmon sashimi with wasabi or the mussels in the can copied literally from Moreno Cedroni in Senigallia, Italy.
2.0 (Dos Punto Zero) mini-restaurant

Dos Punto Zero tiny kitchen

empanada of horse mackerel, fried on the spot

a close up of the empanada of horse mackerel

razor clam, it was too cold

 mussels in a can as if they were canned, this idea was created several years ago by chef Moreno Cedroni in Senigallia, Italy


Monday, February 11, 2013

14 stars in 30 days

Collecting Stars: 14 Michelin Stars in the Basque Country... in 30 days 

I wasn’t trying to get a star myself by eating at all these stary restaurants but I must admit I was very curious to find out all about the revolutionary new Basque cuisine.

It ended up with a gall bladder attack putting me out of order and into bed without food for 62 hours… after which I decided “moderation” to be my new modus operandi, and so it is.

I can't post the pictures of all I ate in each of these 7 restaurants. To give an example: Mugaritz's tasting menu had 22 servings (!), therefore I've decided to post only few pictures (or none like for Nerua) for each of the restaurants.

This is the list:

Restaurant         City                   Nr. of Stars                  Chef's name

Nerua                 Bilbao                 1 star                              Josean Alija
-it's the gourmet restaurant at the Guggenheim Museum but it was a delusion
-I had the 6 servings tasting menu where the only thing to mention is the chocolate dessert that had a very delicate texture
-it's like eating in a freezer atmosphere high quality/gourmet food that almost seems industrial beacuse it doesn't have any feeling, not only the food but the dinning room as well. Nothing to do with the beauty and emotions that the Guggenheim Museum building transmits.

Alameda             Hondarribia        1 star          Gorka Txapartegui and his brother Kepa
-great, full of surprises
-there is for example the Ravioli of clams with artichokes in which the dough of the raviolo is made with the clams themselves, fantastic!
-somehow I lost or misplaced the pictures but here is a picture of one of the desserts, it showed up in my Iphone

Chocolate Textures

Arzak                 San Sebastián     3 stars        Elena y Joan Mari Arzak
-perfect food, quality and tecnique
-still, I felt no emotions
-just simple perfection at its extreme
-Elena Arzak very nicely coming to the tables to talk to her guests
-the maitre said, since he saw in my reservation that I am a blogger, "please no pictures for the blog, we’ll give you a CD"... in which there are only 3 pictures of food which are different from the similar servings I had in the tasting menu. As far as I'm concerned, the rest of the pictures are lost since I followed intructions and didn't take the pictures, only that... they didn' give them to me. Also, being able to take my own pictures helps me remember what I ate.

Zaldiaran            Vitoria                1 star           Patxi Ecseiza
-best quality/price ratio
-good food with a couple of small imperfections that I had the opportunity to share with Patxi when meeting him a few days later at the Bcc course in San Sebastián where he was the second day's teacher.
-very good desserts

Cosmopolitan, Zaldiaran's version

Duck with sweet&sour vinegar, orange and tuber mosaic
Apple Strudel with custard inside and cinnamon ice cream
Lemon cream with iced gin-tonic and lime sorbet

Mugaritz             San Sebastián     2 stars        Andoni Luis Aduriz
-very good food
-very nice place in the countryside but hard to reach and badly indicated
-interesting dinning area although the atmosphere is somewhat cold, probably that's how they want it
-culinary research is taken to its extreme, in a positive sense, only that it's too much and 22 servings can't all be perfect, in fact they aren't
-some desserts need improvement
-the infusions at the end of the meal are great to choose from, beautifully served from selection onto the serving itself, and they have very good ones
-wine by glass too expensive, and obviously the price isn't written anywhere for you to know so that at the end you get an unpleasant surprise
-policy for reservation and penalty for cancellation are both too severe: what are they afraid of?
 barely soaked milk noodles, thin bacon slice, tomato and pumpkin sauce
homemade milk and flax cheese made in its own skin, chanterelles and a succulent herb called "cunquillo marino"
beef piece roasted between coals and fragrant vine, thyme and bits of natural anthocyanins
light dice apple with apple parfait inside and faked fig seeds with cocoa scrolls, these are made of puff pastry, really crunchy as should be!
same serving as above only that here you can see the apple parfait which was hidden inside of the apple gelatin that covers the dice. Very good dessert.
window view from my table

Akelare               San Sebastián     3 stars        Pedro Subijana
-excellent food
-beautiful dinning area
-fantastic view
-service is correct still friendly, not too stiff as in some other 3 star restaurants, too bad I didn't get to meet Subillana.

sea garden with prawn sand, oyster leaf, mussel in its shell (spherified),  sponge urchins, beach stones made of
shallots and corn, coral made of seaweed which really is a tempura with barnacles flavor 
molluscs (opened through coal fire) in a fully sea tasting fisherman's net

roast pigeon breast with a touch of mole sauce and cocoa
the view from my table straight out and right hand side
the view from my table to the left

Azurmendi         Larrabetzu, near Bilbao         3 stars        Eneko Atxa 
-family business run in a non-family-artisan way in the sense of large and intelligent investments (Eneko chef, Eneko's cousin p.r., Eneko's uncle in the Txacoli winery)
-impressive example of a 4 building complex with ecological architecture, all dedicated to food:
  .winery of excellent Biscayan Txacoli wine 
  .pret a porter (bistro) restaurant and area for the winery tastings (I tried their lunch menu, it's good, afordable price, desserts need a lot of improvement)
  .bar and events building
  .gastronomic restaurant building (that has 3 Michelin stars) with it's green house and vegetable garden on the roof
-excellent food (the gastronomic restaurant got their 3rd Michelin star less than 4 months ago)
-very nice people, very buzy but available to talk and explain and listen, not pretentious at all
-nice view, too bad that there is the highway in the view, anyway it's beautiful

bar and events building

the inside of the bar and events building

Azurmendi pret a porter restaurant with Txacoli winery in the lower floor that descends together with the ground level and area for the winery tastings

Azurmendi's Txacoli wine bottle
label of Azurmendi's Txacoli wine bottle

Azurmendi's pret a porter menu
Azurmendi gastronomic restaurant building (3 Michelin stars) with it's green house and vegetable garden on the roof

green house and vegetable garden on the roof of the gastronomic restaurant building 
edible flowers in the green house  on the roof of the gastronomic restaurant building 

welcome area at the gastronomic restaurant
"picnic" welcome appetizer to eat in the welcome area:
spherified peanut, homemade cheese with basilico leaf from the roof garden, infusion of skins of purple Zala onions
gnocchi of Idiazabal (local sheep cheese) with basil pesto

the orchard

cod tripe and garlic soup

Hawai? no! gazpacho? a little bit: it's a flux of homemade "morcilla", broth of Arraño beans, cabbage and slightly spicy flowers 
coal slightly scented red mullets grilled with crispy champignon juice
Betizu beef ravioli wrapped in cornbread and vegetable juice
enlargment of the above "raviolo"
confit pork, vegetables and acorns crumbs, meadow aromas
the open sapce kitchen
the inside of the gastronomic restaurant
the view from my table