Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Time for Basque Grill

Well, look at that, a nice article about Basque cuisine in Time Magazine.

Check it out:

One Man's Meat

By Lydia Itoi

Victor Arguinzoniz is the best grill man ever. His restaurant, Etxebarri, is in a Basque farmhouse about 40 minutes and a world away from Bilbao, in Axpe, a postcard village set among skyscraping peaks, and impossible to find on a map. Trust me, it's worth the trouble. Arguinzoniz makes his own charcoal from local hardwoods. He has also invented a custom grill with a pulley system that allows precise control of oxygen intake, levered grill surfaces that can be kept meticulously clean for a light smoke, and a mesh-bottomed pan that grills such refined foods as caviar and the tiniest baby squid.

Ordinary grilled flavor comes mainly from soot, but here exceptional-quality ingredients are barely enrobed in a gossamer smokiness. Ask for the daily menu, about six stunningly minimalist dishes. You may get incredible homemade txorizo or lobsters sacrificed live, martyrs to gastronomic ecstasy. There's even a smoked ice cream, made by first cooking milk over the coals.

Etxebarri is one of only two restaurants I know that buys live angulas (baby eels) and makes them worth their exorbitant price. The delicacy of the seafood courses proves that less can be oh-so-much more, but all flame tamers are pulled off for the chuletón, the king of steaks. Arguinzoniz swears by the complex, marbled meat of retired Galician milk cows, fattened for slaughter until they resemble Kobe beef but with richer flavor, and seared to an incredible blackened crust. Forget delicacy and sophistication — this is simply the best steak ever. tel: (34-94) 658 3042

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