Nowadays, words such as ecological, renewable energy and recycled have all become part of our daily vocabulary, but it still isn’t an easy task to actually fin ecological products or sustainable homes. That is why I find it so admirable when people take the time to think about the Earth and about their ecological print. Eneko Atxa had a vision once of building a sustainable restaurant which could live in harmony with its surroundings, running on renewable energy, collecting rain water, working with local farmers and producers just to name a few of the ways that he has made Azurmendi an example to follow. Azurmendi fits in beautifully with the surrounding landscape and the actual view from the restaurant is relaxing with rolling hills and lush green countryside. Although it is a short drive from Bilbao’s city center, you feel that you are in a whole new place, you are in Enkeo’s dream. One of the things that I liked best was the actual gastronomic experience which is a combination of taste, surprise and subtle beauty. From the moment you enter the restaurant, you automatically switch to relax-mode. The soothing sound of running water combined with the greenery makes it a perfect place to be greeted. This isn’t your have a seat and dine kind of place. Here, before you actually sit at the table, you are guided around the restaurant where you enjoy a variety of appetizers. We were firstly taken to the upper part where the vegetable garden and greenhouse are. I am a fool for a vegetable garden. There is just something about them that I love and as you can imagine, I fell in love with these. As one of the cooks explains the vision behind Azurmendi we had a cocktail prepared in situ in the greenhouse and from a small tree we took our first aperitif. Then we went further into the greenhouse where it is set up for you to continue with your appetizers. It kind of reminded me of the Easter egg hunts when I was a child and how you would go around the garden looking for those bright colorful eggs. Here we trade eggs for magnificent bites. Sure was a win situation for us! These next ones were served in a box where cotton plants are planted!!! These were next to the avocados and the idea is that you are eating the pit of the avocado. So fun!!! I have to tell you that I was having a great time. Although I had been told about the experience, to actually do it is totally different. Then we went back downstairs to the main entrance hall where we got our picnic!!! The was like Little Red Riding Hood’s dream basket. Honestly, it doesn’t get any cuter than this. We had a millefeuille made out of anchovies. The green sphere is a caipiritxa and the last was a made out of corn, foie and mustard. Our last tour stop was in the kitchen where you are greeted by a mighty unison hello from the staff as you enter. There is table over at the side where you can watch as the parade continues to the most precise rhythm and munch as you are marveled and yes, you do eat the leaves. Once at the table we continued with a frozen olive and vermouth after all, what is more Spanish than a vermouth served with a bowl of olives? Here the dirt was edible so we had to dig in. Next came their hen’s egg, prepared “a la inversa” and truffled. Who can say no to a truffled egg? And when it comes with a steam bun?? We were willing to take a dozen home. The next dish is called The Vegetable Garden which is so Azurmendi. After visiting their garden, a plate like this was a must. Local Spider Crab with apple Grilled “bogavante” over oil with herbs and a chives cream A salted/cured dish (what in Spain is referred to as salazón) made with vegetables, anchovies, ibericos and idiazabal spherifications. This is very rich, sticky and tasty dish. Kokotxas (cod cheeks) with potatoes and garlic Duck a l’orange Then came the desserts. First the chestnuts… Then the smell of roses just filled the table… Then with the coffee and tea came the petit fours The only thing left to say is thank you to Eneko and all of his team for a most remarkable lunch!
Legina Auz., s/n, 48195 Larrabetzu, Bizkaia
Telephone:944 55 88 66