Alameda: Hondarribia, Basque Country
This is a live version, taken by me, of the picture that first had me intrigued by Alameda. It's the aperitif, and posted on Twitter a few weeks ago by a certain bon vivant it had my vegetable loving tastebuds salivating. The colors, the promise of sweet summery tomato goodness....it stuck in my mind. So last week, I booked a table for myself and a few friends in the Hondarribia restaurant.
We arrived early, to set the scene with a drive through the fisherman's barrio, which was FULL of people for the town's fiestas, and then with a walk through the old town. A softly lit plaza and a Basque folk band made for another ridiculously beautiful moment. Not to mention it was one of the most mild nights we've had all summer, a touch of the day's heat still in the air.
This is one of three tasting menus at Alameda, the one that our entire table chose. This one is based in the product, another in "tradition" and another in "innovation". The aperitif shown above is a chilled tomato soup with fresh cheese and basil, and it was followed by creamy rice with Begi Handi squid, below.
I can't believe the meal we had there was only 35 euros. Has to be one of the best value meals around. The chefs in charge are young, but they do NOT come across as such. They don't seem to be caught in the mindless keeping up with the Etxeberris aspect of nouveau Basque gastronomy. Take this simple but not quite as simple as it looks cod brandade with fresh white beans, vegetables and parsley foam.
...and the sous-vide beef with potato puree and microgreen salad.....
Want to understand? Go to the restaurants website: "It's not possible to advance without a part of our past. Alameda wants to present you a series of dishes, that above all should be a passionate homage to our grandparents. To that healthful traditional cuisine, which is the root of our most recent recipes."
From the brownie with cheese ice cream and sour orange to the platter of golosinas, which included a financier, chocolate mousse with coffee foam, and chocolate covered almonds, it was a perfectly executed meal.
It reminds me of a certain much-hyped restaurant in San Sebastian, with another young chef, that has a similar product-based sensibility. Alameda, however, has an execution and a complexity that I haven't seen yet in Narru. Hence the Michelin-star, I suppose.
Thirty-five euros, people. Get there.