Etxebarri : The Return (It's Even Better)

If I could only recommend one place for someone to eat here in Basque Country who loves food, Etxebarri would be it.

I said it.

This is my second visit to this temple of deceptively simple Basque product-based cooking.  And. It. Was. Better.

This time, I went with very wise friends who opted for a sampling of menu items instead of a tasting menu. I doubted, secretly, when D. ordered the chorizo and ham.

If you know anything about chorizo, then one look at this stuff and you KNOW there's something special going on. This restaurant, famous for its cutting-edge grilling techniques (why did you think it was called Asador?) has a smoky chorizo that you simply have to order. I will never be the same. The same with the ham. Literally. Who is cutting this stuff?

Let's have a moment of silence.

Okay. Then on to the anchovy, fresh as ever.

Then, an item I'd been curious about ever since my last smoked dairy rendezvous (see goat butter, next photo): the smoked mozzarella. The chef, Victor Arguinzoniz, bought a buffalo just to make this stuff.

 But for me, the goat butter still reigns supreme.

Another food ruined for me by the past two meals at Etxebarri? Shrimp. I can barely call these shrimp.

And the famous octopus. Famous on my blog, I mean.

Please forgive me if I am getting a bit effusive. I try to retain partiality, I really do. But when you get your taste memory turned upside down dish after dish, it's hard to stay calm.

Sweet spring peas. Yeah, those chive blossoms are my food styling skillz, thanks for noticing. Grabbed some during my repeated breaks from the table, where I would stare off into the distance with my cava in hand, pretending to be in my own backyard.

Then, the steak. The steak to end all steaks, really.

Desserts, tastefully kept to a few delicious ice creams, garnished with smoked fruits.

The best: strawberries, grilled, with fir tree ice cream.

And as if the food, the bubbly, the company weren't enough? I'll leave you with the view from our table.