And that is exactly how I formed this trip. Every city we visited had a food destination. Spain has specialty foods originating from certain cities or towns. This country birthed some of the greatest chefs in the world.
Enter, Juan Mari Arzak. What better way to start our trip than with a dining experience from the godfather of all contemporary Spanish chefs, and, perhaps, of most western chefs today. And what better way to celebrate my mom's birthday. Seriously, there is no better way.
Arzak is located just outside of the central parts of San Sebastian. You enter welcomed by a formal wait staff in traditional garments. The restaurant is classic, simple, modern, and refined. The staff and service have that unique Spanish hospitality that graciously makes you feel at home.
We ordered the tasting menu instead of a la carte selections because we assumed this may be our only chance eating here, our once in a lifetime experience. After eating course after course with some "whoa - that's amazing!" bites, I have a feeling this wasn't our last time. I could go back and eat the cromlech course and lamb course all over again. Plus, the a la carte menu had offerings now offered in the tasting menu. And of course, the menu constantly changes according to season and availability.
The icing to the meal and the whole dining experience was meeting Elena Arzak, Juan Mari's daughter. She walks around the restaurant unassuming and readily welcomes guests who are eager to meet her, like at our table. What an amazing night.
|Our Tasting Menu|
Printed out at the end of our meal. Complete with our course selections, special requests, and wines for the evening.
|Table setting and cutlery|
Simple, classic, modern, refined - fitting in perfectly with the theme of the restaurant.
|Scorpion Fish Pudding with Kataifi|
A crunchy light bite to start off the evening.
|Red Cod Fish|
More bites of fish to get our palates and stomachs ready for the the main event.
|White Tuna with Marinated Strawberries|
This tuna was definitely fresh from the morning market. Light and brightened with the sweet strawberry.
Gazpacho-like with a jamón and melon cork. So smart, so fun, so good.
|Chorizo with Tonic|
Time for the mind blowing to start. Eaten in one bite to let the chorizo sphere explode in your mouth. And what a great presentation - made with tonic, so it's presented on a crushed tonic can.
|Cromlech, Manioc and Huitlacoche|
Crispy manioc (yuca root) hydrated with huitlacoche (corn smut, or fungus that grows on corn) stuffed with a preparation of onion, green tea, and foie gras.
|It's suggested to invert the fried root and eat it with your hands. This was a great way to start the courses. The crunch and slight sweetness played together so well.|
Different interpretations of corn
|In the form of a soup. And wow, this was the best corn soup I've tasted. Each bite was incredibly filled with fresh distinct sweet corn notes. It was like corn extract in a light creamy form.|
Egg with semi crunchy shell and baobab accompanied by "lactic leaves" and curds
|Even shot of a runny orange yolk will always be food porn.|
|Fish Steak with Potatoes|
Fillet of seabass lightly marinated with gin and served with several flavors of potatoes
|Served over a tablet with a looping show of ocean waves, as though your actually eating the meal in the fresh ocean water.|
|White Tuna with Garlic Petals|
White tuna with garlic petals of different colors. When I saw those massive tunas at the market, I knew I had to ordered it. So fresh, like we bit it off the fish itself.
|Mom's Birthday Cake|
The restaurant generously accommodated my request for a little something special to celebrate my mom's day.
Cocoa and sugar with chocolate and carob core
|After the pour. The heat of the chocolate sauce melted down the truffle. So deliciously bittersweet chocolate - my favorite kind of chocolate.|
Sticks of chocolate. I love this because I can have bites of chocolate for days.
Sauteed apple finalized with the aspect of truffle and apricot. Lightening up our filled stomachs with sweet fruit courses.
|A picture of flowers. Curious and ready for what's next.|
|Golden Footprint and Ladybird|
Caramelized fruits served with black sesame bread, pepper, and licorice ladybird filled with yogurt and olive oil cristal. It's like a foot print in the garden of flowers and fruits.
Arzaks Hardware Store. Chocolates, truffles, and sweets in the shapes of nuts, bolts, keys, etc. Such fun little bites to bring the meal to its conclusion. Well done and well played, Chefs Arzak!