Off we go to the second part of our journey in Spain. Located an hour and 15mins away from Bilbao via road, San Sebastian holds a lot of historical value and is home to an array of delicacies and 3-star Michelin Star Restaurant, Akelarre. Only having 3 days to explore San Sebastian, you can pretty much guess how tired we were. But worry not as we had one of our best dining experiences over in San Sebastian and we are here to fill you in on the details. Before going through the list of dishes, let’s begin with a little of history.
Akelarre—led by Head Chef, Pedro Subijana and having exceptional experiences in Tolosa, Hernani, Madrid and Estella, he came to Akelarre as a chef and head of the restaurant. Together with his artistic and gastronomical flair, he’s since managed to lead his team and restaurant to the top making his cooking world renowned. Clinching Akelarre its 1st Michelin Star in 1978, 2nd in 1982 and the 3rd in 2007. We were extremely eager to dine at a restaurant of such a high value. Onward we go… to take you through a series of starters and a 9-course meal based on the ‘Aranori’ menu that we chose.
For starters we started off with a list of 5 dishes. Namely, bloody mary, diabolic butter, shrimp little pillow, fried eggs with potato chips ham and a black pudding cookie. Although, we missed out taking a quick photo of the fried eggs with potato chips; we managed to get the rest. What stood out amongst the starters were the homemade bread. As, you can see they’re in 3 different colours, meaning they were in 3 different flavours as well. White: Goat cheese, Red: Red pepper and Black: Charcoal. Paired with the diabolic butter, its taste was out of this world. Now, on to the main dishes…
Dish 1: Egg with Caviar, Cauliflower puree and Chive butter
First up as per the description of this dish, it definitely was a ‘delicate way of eating a tea spoon of good caviar’. Its presentation was simply stunning. It broke our heart to have a bite of it due to its beauty alas, it had to be done. With the first dish presented with an immense burst of creativity, we were anxiously awaiting the subsequent dishes to see if they come up to par.
Dish 2: The Leaves and the Foie under the Rain
Second dish was aptly named: The Leaves and the Foie under the Rain. Looking at it, we were somewhat disappointed thinking it was a plate of leaves. However, upon closer inspection, we realized the base of the dish (brown leaf) is actually made with cold foie-gras meticulously crafted to look like a leaf—inclusive of the leaves of the stem! We were completely awed by the finesse that went into preparing this dish.
Dish 3: Kokotxa, Pumpkin Seeds Emulsion Garlic and Parsley Bread
Next up, we were served with a dish of Hake Kokotxa confit, Pumpkin Brunoise, Egg yolk emulsion and Pumpkin seeds oil. We’ve never had a dish like this in our lives so we were completely blown away with its complexity as well as its burst of flavours.
Dish 4: Green Broth Infusion, Scampi and Smoked Monkfish
Soon after, we were presented with a plate of raw and smoked monkfish fillet cut into thin slices, a barely cooked scampi, a little infusion bag made of obulato with monkfish crisp and aromatic small herbs and prawn powder that melts when pouring the absolutely natural broth, in taste and colour. Look at that beautiful thin slices of monkfish that very well melted in our mouth after every bite. The amount of hardwork put in this dish is commendable.
Dish 5: Hake in Seaweed Steam, Plankton and Oyster Leaf
Following that, we had a Hake dish. As Hake is mostly based on texture, having it infused with the seaweed steam and plankton, the Hake absorbs its flavours thus, making it flavourful. The visually appealing presentation for this dish definitely caught our eye.
Dish 6: Squid as a Risotto and Butter Flower
Down with 4 dishes to go and we were no longer starving. Yet, there we were patiently awaiting our dishes to avoid disappointments. Soon after we were given a plate of squid cut in Brunoise paired with a gorgeously sculpted butter in the shape of a rose. Upon melting, the butter flower mixed with Parmesan cheese will melt and mix with the bed of risotto. The catch here is instead of cooking the risotto with rice, the chef has substituted it with squid. Impressive, huh?
Dish 7: Roasted Suckling Pig, “Bone” and Iberian Emulsion
This next dish totally blew us away with its creativity. The ‘Bone’ displayed in this dish is actually an Iberian Emulsion of Garlic. To get a crispy and juicy texture the baby pig is cooked in Iberian broth and finished in the oven. The end product of interesting flavours fused together was definitely a highlight of this dish.
Dish 8: Idiazabal’s “Burrata”
Aptly named Idiazabal’s ‘Burrata’, this ‘Burrata’ dish is served up with Idiazabal cheese instead. For added effect, you’re supposed to eat this up in one bite.
Dish 9: Refreshing of Citrus Fruits
Lastly we were served with a refreshing platter of citrus, mints and basils in textures and temperatures that help cleanse the palate. This platter goes well with a hot cup of tea.
Overall, Akelarre opened up our eyes and tastebuds to a world of visually appealing dishes that left us in awe of words. If it were up to us, we’d be living in San Sebastian now. Akelarre is a must visit!