Monday, 10 December 2012

Azurmendi, Bilbao

Azurmendi is a 3 Michelin star gastronomic restaurant in Bizkaia, 20 minutes out of Bilbao.
The food is an experience in itself, with courses that are straight from a scientific experiment.
The visit begins in the indoor garden, with tricking waterfall and comfy benches.
A waiter brings out a picnic basket, when you stand and munch on the appetizer delights. 

Appetizers in the garden:
'Mimetic' peanut
Tomato and basil cold infusion 
Homemade cheese with homegrown basil flowers 

Another diners' garden starter experience

Then, you are lead to the main dining room which is beautifully decorated and scented with a strong yet unobtrusive aura.

Eggs from the restaurants' chickens, cooked inside out and stuffed with truffles

'Betizu' cow tail raviolis, wrapped in corn brad with legume broth

Sea caress: oyster, salicornia, iodinated tremella, sea weed and small crunchy nettles with natural aromas from the sea

The 'Earth' tea service

Brasiered squid, a mantle of it's own juice, crunches and onion

Salted stew: vegetables, anchovies and pork jowl with 'Idiazabal' cream cheese balls

Grilled red mullet, crunchy mushroom broth and onion toffee

Pigeon, 'hazelnuts,' leafs...
(The hazelnuts were chocolate to lead you into dessert, you're advised to eat these last) 

Chestnuts with vine shoot scent

Strawberries and roses

(Ice cream as light as air on a real honeycomb)


The restaurant is an encounter not to be forgotten.
The waiting on staff were attentive and knowledgable and certainly added to the experience. 
Azurmendi's website is here.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

San Sebastián, Spain

San Sebastián was our next stop on our trip, which is about an hour from Bilbao.
A quaint town on a bay with a gorgeous sandy beach and piers to step down to the water.
This is where you can canoe, sail or swim from.
Walk along the beach front to find the famous Spa, La Perla.

Here I opted for a relaxation massage and was pummelled to my heart's content. 
Afterwards I pulled on a huge fluffy robe and soft slippers and padded to the Thalassotheraphy area.
Essentially, flitting between different hot salt water baths where water jets massage different parts of the body, a jacuzzi, an underwater gym as well as walking through a corridor of freezing cold water jets.
We laughed and relaxed for a sublime 3 hours; it's not an experience I'd have enjoyed half as much by myself, so do go as a couple or group.
You can find La Perla here.

The city is architecturally beautiful and, very importantly, a great place to shop.
Girls rejoice, it's Zara heaven!
We stayed in an apartment above the bustling pedestrian streets, metres away from the Pinxos bars.
San Sebastián is famous for it's food, foodies will not be disappointed.

Be sure to visit San Sebastián Food.
They offer food experiences in the area, from cooking classes to wine tasting trips.
We opted for the Pinxos tasting tour, a great introduction to the bars so you can re-visit your favourites for the rest of your trip!
Our tour guide Eli was friendly, informative and kept our glasses full.
Also, if you're very lucky as we were, you'll meet a few people who you'll wish lived nearby when you get home.

Find San Sebastián Food here.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao is part of The Spanish Basque Country and just a short journey from the UK.
Last month we hopped on a plane for a week of exploring the area.
It's renowned for it's beauty, drink and of course food!
We wondered the pedestrianised streets, nipping in and out of little stores until we got peckish.
There are independent bars on every street, so the premise is to pop into one that takes your fancy.

Order yourself a glass of wine and grab a couple of Pintxos; Basque for tapas.
They're around €3-€8 each and they're designed for you to graze all day.
You can get meat, fish, bread, Spanish omelette, whatever you like! 
Everyone in The Basque Country does this, and I for one think this is the perfect way to live.
Maybe even take a little siesta...

We grew accustomed to the Basque way very quickly and wondered the the streets until it got dark.
Then the place really comes to life.
More wine, more Pintxos and even more wine.

The next morning we visited a bakery we had spotted the day before for Breakfast.
There are rows upon rows of pastries, bread, cream buns and macaroons. 

I went for a croissant and hot chocolate.
Hot, thick pure chocolate to dip your buttery pastry into.

Next, we visited the Guggenheim Museum.
Every tour book, website and word of mouth suggests to visit this intrinsically designed building.
Designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, it really is a sight to behold. 
There is not one straight wall to the main part of this building, and this is really impressive to find out about once inside (sorry, no photos were allowed.)

No offence, Gehry, but the interior is less than inspiring.
Modern art including a room four times as large as my apartment with empty pine kitchen units and a closed off floor for maintenance.
I don't know about you, but I'm more of a fine art and photography kind of girl.
Don't let this put you off, the exhibits do change a lot.
Maybe you'll get a bit more luck with your visit.