Tag Archives: restaurant

#ssrestweek: La Cepa + La Muralla

  • Menéame0

Well, we are in the thick of San Sebastián’s first-ever restaurant week, and I have the fortune of being able to visit each restaurant to see what is occurring seasonally across a fairly broad spectrum of restaurants. Sixteen restaurants are participating, and they range from the almost-famous Narru to lesser-known restaurants deep in the interior of Gipuzkoa.

The goal is to display seasonality, provide value, and give customers a chance to visit new restaurants and old favorites at a bargain price of just 25 euros, which includes 3-5 courses, wine, and often coffee.

Today I am talking about two restaurants, both classics of the old part: La Muralla and La Cepa, and putting their best two plates in a faceoff.

La Cepa: Hake ‘a la koskera’, or in a sauce of peas, asparagus and clams.

This is a super dish; soft, tender hake served in a rich sauce that looks like spring.

hakealakoskeras_lacepa

La Muralla: Lamb au jus with a light potato puree.

Tender lamb with a glaze that just begs to photographed, served over lighter than air potatoes and with a salad.

lamb

And the winner is: La Muralla.  I liked the concept of the plate at La Cepa, but with the glory that is the peas right now in Basque Country I would have liked to see them a bit fresher. Asparagus, too. Meanwhile, the meat, oh the meat at La Muralla….so so tender, but not in a carrillera way. Perfectly balanced dish. Beautiful plating.

Round one over! Stay tuned.

The Basque ABC’s : F is for….

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basqueabcs

F is for…Frijituak! Literally ‘fried things’, this concept is both absurdly obvious and totally foreign. It’s a plate of varied fried things typical to the cuisine, such as croquetas, stuffed mussels (tigres), and balls of meat.

frijituak

It’s served as a first course (for one person!) in the most hallowed of the daily eating institutions, the restaurant that has menú del día. This type of spot is both holding strong and dying out. More and more there are fewer, but they are still an indispensable part of the worker’s life. A place to go and get simple food, like your ama makes, and for relatively inexpensive. There is a drink all you want, eat all you want air to it. Other typical first courses include soup, salads, fish puddings, etc. and the second course is often meat and potatoes, fish, or meatballs.

Basques in The World’s 50 Best

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arzak_peine

Yesterday the announcement for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants was made, and Basque Country chefs continue to have a very outsized presence on this list.

Coming in at NUMBER THREE is a personal favorite of mine, located ten minutes outside of San Sebastián,  Mugaritz. Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz and his team is truly deserving of that spot.  Arzak also holds strong, at number 8, with Elena Arzak winning an additional accolade of Best Female Chef.

For me, what is truly special about the Basque presence in the top 50 is not only the outsized presence Basque chefs hold (for a region that isn’t much bigger than an American state) but also how loyal they are to their culinary traditions.  Eating at one of these restaurants is NOT a cosmopolitan, global experience. It’s quite the opposite-the meals tend to be strongly tied to their location and traditions (like the Wind Comb dessert, from Arzak, above). It’s a strength.

Etxebarri, in leaps and bounds that can be attributed to word of mouth as well as alignment with current gastronomic trends such as using amazing product and  leaving well enough alone, comes in this year at number 31.  Martín Berasategui, on the other hand, drops to 67.

Gora Euskadi! On egin!

Pintxo Pic : Kota 31

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kota_scallop

Not long ago, on my blog, I offered a sneak peek into the newest bar in San Sebastián, Kota.31.

A pintxo bar that’s a modern take on Donostian small plate staples like foie and croquetas (which were particularly delicious), it’s located in the heart of the old town on 31st of August Street in the locale that used to be home to Bide Bide.

Here’s a sneak pintxo peek, a contrast of textures: grilled scallop + popcorn | vieira + palomitas.