Etxebarri – on fire

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I visited Etxebarri several years ago and ever since I have been longing to go back. I was marveled by the use of their BBQs, of how they managed to match the right wood to the food, by the tastes and the concept. Finally, I have been able to go back and I was once again enchanted with these fire charmers.

The restaurant has over gone some upgrades since our last visit, going from a country style to a more elegant look. There is a wonderful slab of wood at the center of the dining room, with tall flowers and branches which acts as a feature piece bring the whole area together.

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Extebarri, which is located in Axpe, a small village near Bilbao in the Basque Country, is on of those places, like Lera, which flourishes in what seems to be the middle of nowhere; a gastronomical oasis where foodies peregrinate from all over the world.

You can either order dishes or go for the set menu. We went for the set menu.

Warm vegetable broth, always very soothing in winter

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Bocadillo de chorizo – this is what all chorizo bocadillos should be like

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Goat butter and fresh buffalo cheese with herbs and hazelnuts – we fell in love with both the butter and the cheese

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Anchovy on toasted bread

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A rolled up slice of pumpkin

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Zamburiña – typical shellfish from the north of Spain and very tasty

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Shrimps – when you started eating them you just didn’t want to stop

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Marzuelo mushrooms with an onion broth

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“scrambled” eggs with white truffle – loved this dish with two of my favorite ingredients in the world, egg yolk and truffle

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Fresh chorizo tartar, this was my favorite dish, delicious

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Peas

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Grouper with vegetables

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Beef Steak -this is Fred Flintstones’s type of steak

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Milk ice-cream with beet juice – a great and refreshing dessert

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Pumpkin chocolates

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Hot chocolate and a muffin – the perfect winter snack

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There is no doubt that Bittor Arginzoniz knows his way around the grills, optimizing flavors and bringing BBQ onto a whole new league, making it sophisticated and let’s face it, delicious. We have to remember that Extebarri is ranked number 13 in The World’s Best Restaurants.

Extebarri is one of those places which doesn’t disenchant, on the contrary, it leaves you in awe.

Asador Extebarri

 

Plaza de San Juan, 1
48291 Axpe Atxondo, Bizkaia
Telephone: (+34) 946 58 30 42
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Azurmendi – 100% sustainable

_DSC2030 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. _DSC2034 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. _DSC2035 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. _DSC2036 Continue reading

Mina – delightful surprise

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Several friends had recommended Mina and on our recent trip to Bilbao we were pleasantly surprised by its tasty well-rounded dishes. Álvaro Garrido opts for bringing local in-season produce to his happy customers who have to choose between two menus; one is 7 dishes and the other is 14 so it all depends on appetite. Being dinner time, we went for the shorter menu and I have to say that it was the perfect amount. They are very flexible so if there is something that you don’t like or you really want to try, they can change it around for you.

Before I go on about the food, I have to say that we loved Mina’s location, right on the ria bank, on a pedestrian street. Across the ria you can see The Ribera Market so the view is very nice, especially at night when the area is romantically lit. The restaurant is small, with space for 25 clients and the kitchen is open so you can see the cooks at work which is always nice and entertaining.

After two appertifs we started off with the Txangurro with passion fruit emulsion

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Then we continued with the begihaundi (a very big calamari) prepared as a risotto

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When they explained the next dish I was sure that I wasn’t going to like it because it is made with blood and I was a bit apprehensive at first as I thought the taste would be too strong but after trying it, I discovered it was delicious. It is called blood, coffee and pickled cabbage. Really worth tasting!

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Then came the roasted monkfish with vegetables

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The last main dish was capon.

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The first dessert I thought to be totally brilliant. It is called “sea” and the idea is that you taste the sea. It is incredible how this dish is designed and thought out because you really get the feeling that you are tasting a delicious sea. It is refreshing and digestive. Simply wonderful!

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The last dessert was a modern apple pie. Also good.

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Definitely a place worth visiting in Bilbao!

Mina

7-dish tasting menu – 55 euros

14-dish tasting menu – 100 euros

Muelle Marzana
48003 Bilbao
(+34) 944 795 938
mina@restaurantemina.es

www.restaurantemina.es