Showing posts with label Bilbao. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bilbao. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fabulous Fish. 14 tempting plates.

Some of the great fish dishes I've enjoyed in 2012

The continental selection, clockwise from top left: Tuna at La Cabane (Hendaye), Squid at Chez Kake (H), Turbot at Nerua (Bilbao), Bream at La Cabane, Hake at La Cabane, Cod at La Cabane, Cod at Le Flora (Pont Aven, Brittany Ferries). Hendaye is a small town on the Atlantic, on the border with Spain. La Cabane de Pecheur was obviously my favourite restaurant during the holidays!

The home selection, clockwise from top left): Hake at Augustine's, Monkfish at Hayfield, Sea Bass at Star Anise, Hake at Dillon's, Halibut at Hayfield, Hake at Nash 19, Smoked Mackerel at Ballymaloe Cafe.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Guggenheim (Bilbao) in Black & White

Star Lunch at Bilbao’s Nerua

Star Lunch at Bilbao’s Nerua
With Chef Aitor on the Nerua terrace.
20th June 2012, Wednesday
Didn’t expect to be getting a tour of the kitchen when I made an electronic booking for Bilbao’s Michelin starred restaurant Nerua earlier in the week but that’s exactly what happened within minutes of our arrival for lunch on Wednesday.

We were handed over to Chef Aitor who showed us their three work sections: Pastry, Meat/Fish, and one whole section for vegetables (which they regard as very important and source locally). We had a few nibbles before Aitor took us up to their exclusive terrace overlooking the Guggenheim in which the restaurant is located.

He explained how the “Guggen” has transformed the city, especially around here where it had been run down and ugly. Before it was an industrial city, now it is a tourist city, he explained. Could do with something transformative like this in Cork.

After that mini-tour, we were handed over to the waiting staff. No shortage here. Formal and so well coordinated, but friendly, even time for a laugh (most had good English), and the service overall was immaculate in a white room with subdued lighting and just one window, a big one, overlooking part of the museum and the Spider Mama. Lighting is discreet, behind hanging cream ceiling tiles. No art on the walls here. Only on the plates!

An Amuse Bouche that contained a little egg yolk, thin crisps and oil, was first up. CL’s starter was Baked White Onion, cod fish and pimiento verde (12). I had chosen the Anchovies, Bilbao style, with grilled onions (15). We were off and running, a very promising start.


Turbot, turnip, rosemary
 My main course was outstanding: Turbot with rosemary, pickled turnip (35). Perfection on the plate and on the palate. But I have to say, CL’s was something else, with a humble piece of pork elevated to a height I’ve never before tasted: Piece of Iberico Pork, with carrots and artichoke emulsion. Incredible, more than a match for the best of beef, the best of lamb.
Delicious pork

Potato, apple and lime

That pork was a highlight and then another came quickly in the shape of my dessert: Ashes of black olives, aromatic herbs and soft ice cream (12). A very unusual feel on the palate, quickly lifted by the liquorice in the herbs. The other dessert was a Millefeuillie of potato, apple and lime (11), also excellent.

There is quite an extensive wine list, with a strong local element, many at very reasonable prices. Our pick was a Rías Baixas Nora 2011 Albarino (26); we enjoyed it very much and lingered with it for a while after we had finished off the main meal and the little surprise that followed: a warmed chocolate boule with a cold centre and we were happy to oblige with the order to eat it with one bite!

You may see the full menu here  . The prices do not include vat of 8%. Total bill, including a bottle of water and the wine, came to €150.66.

Black Olive Ashes...