This trip was all about cooking with ‘fire’ and tasting our way through the roasting houses of central Spain. Before that though, we had to stop for a couple of nights in the Basque Country just to get a quick fix of pintxos and take the opportunity to eat at a couple of the best restaurants in Spain!
After a quick breakfast at La Cepa we headed out to Getaia to visit our Txakoli supplier Zudugarai.
We got the opportunity to be the first people to try the 2016 vintage, the difference between each different tank was really surprising.
Also in Getaria was the Fabulous ‘El Kano’, famous for the Turbot cooked over oak wood charcoal……
The Parrilla is just outside the restaurant, on the pavement! Brilliant to watch and chat to the chefs
Kokotxas Pil Pil (cod throats)
Rodaballo A La Parrilla. This dish was a real experience, after the fillets were taken off, the rest of the fish was dissected at the table where the chef served us the cheeks, throat, wings, both sides of the skin which were completely different, then the marrow bone was scooped out of the biggest vertebrae and served to us on a teaspoon. Finally the guy tilted the plate so that all the warm juices, gelatine, proteins and oil ran to the bottom of the plate, he then used a tea spoon to whip it all up into a pil pil style sauce which we mopped up with our bread. Amazing!
After El Kano we headed back to Bilbao for the rest of the evening, sampling some of the finest pintxos at La Vina and Pinchos Morunos at Cafe Iruna.
Joselito Iberico Pig Cheeks
Joselito Iberico Coppa (neck) cooked for 720 minutes
Possibly the best Pinchos Morunos I’ve ever had! Cafe Iruna has been open in Bilbao since 1800 and is a surprising find, serving classic Andalusian dished in a traditional sherry bar.
Next morning was a quick trip round the market then on to Etxebarri to see the God of charcoal cookery Victor Arguinzoniz, one of my food heroes!
Etxebarri is in the mountain village of Atxondo, a stunning setting for one of the finest restaurants in Spain, in fact number 10 in the Top 50 restaurants in the world! A fantastic 6 1/2 hour lunch followed by a visit to the kitchen and inspirational meeting with the man himself!
Caldoso Garbanzos, Foie & Remolacha (chickpea soup, foie gras & beetroot)
Mantequilla De Cabra (goats milk butter & truffles)
Queso De Bufala (buffalo cheese)
Percebes (goose barnacles)
Gambas De Palamos
Revuelto De Setas (egg yolks, mushrooms & truffles)
Talo Con Chorizo Fresco
Angulas (baby eels, the real thing too)
Besugo (Royal Bream)
Txuleton (Galician Blonde dairy cow, rib)
The man himself Victor Arguinzoniz
After Etxebarri it was a 4hr drive south into Castile & Leon arriving in Benavente for Dinner at the great roasting house El Ermitano. Lamb being the speciality, but for me the other dishes on the short tasting menu were what really blew me away
Cecina (cured beef), Foie & Membrillo
Lechazo (21 day old Milk-Fed Lamb)
We were now in the heart of Castile & Leon to where the wood fired oven is king! Next stop Pereruela, a tiny village not far from Zamora where they have been hand making clay ovens since the 15th century. They still make the ovens here in exactly the same way…….
Having watched the ovens being made, it seemed only right that we would move onto sampling what comes out of them!
Segovia: Beautiful, ancient & historical city with some of the finest roasting houses in Spain. One of the best is Meson De Jose Maria, famous across Spain for his suckling pig………. stunning!
Next day we would make our way to Sepulveda, a tiny village a couple of hours outside Segovia. I don’t think we even saw more than 2 car on the entire journey! Eventually we found ourselves in this remote yet beautiful village. Figon Zute El Mayor, Tinin is possibly my favourite of all the places we ate, it’s is so simple. We booked ahead and on arrival were seated by a window, the guy offered us wine so when we asked to see the list he told us that they just do one wine. Red. A bottle of perfect Ribera (of course) arrived moments later. Then arrived the 21 day old milk-fed lamb! Sizzling and smelling unbelievable it could not have been better, served with an oily, vinegary green salad. it was so simple but utterly astonishing. And thats it, thats all they do!
21 day old Milk-fed Lamb
Tinins Pereruela Oven
After our fantastic lunch we headed deeper into Ribera Del Duero, Aranda. Here we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening with Galo, the grandson of the founder of what became the Lopez Cristobal Winery. We had a look round the vineyard, winery and cellar then went upstairs to taste our way through their collection!
Finally, on our way back up north to Bilbao, we stopped off in Tortoles De Esqueva. I really tiny spot in Ribera with an equally tiny winery. We sampled the one wine that this family produce, a staggering Ribera called Buen Camino, only 8000 bottles produced. Not available in the U.K. at all yet but I recon it’ll find it’s way to our shores. This was a real old school bodega.