after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Spain 2014

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t says:  I have been chanting “Spain 2014” since 2012 (i.e. ever since planning our last France trip).  And … all that hypnotic brain-washing has paid off, as now there will be Spanish vacations of 8 people running in parallel (a, v, drb and his girlfriend, a’s parents, g and me).  Having focused on north-eastern Spain (Bilbao, San Sebastian, Rioja), there will be much food and wine (with minimal dance and chit-chat … just the way I like it … sorry … inside joke).  Of course, there will also be many pictures …. starting NOW:

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Our first stop: Bilbao. Why Bilbao? Well – they do have the largest airport closest to our other destinations (Rioja, San Seabastian), and they have the Guggenheim! So why not!

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Oh – did I mention Bilbao also has delicious food? Our first night, we ate at Bascook, a restaurant that’s getting some attention for its blend of traditional basque cuisine with some “international flavors” and a smidge of fussy gastronomy. Whatever the concoction, let’s just say that this “tomato soup with pig” amuse bouche was amazing. Tomato, cucumber, and likely some red onion and fried pig … a stunning way to start the meal.

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People always say “wine’s so cheap in Europe”. That’s not true – it can be expensive, too! It just so happens that everyone drinks the cheap stuff. For example, take this 13 Euro bottle of Rueda Sauvignon Blanc. Cheap? Yes. Complex? No. Tasty with food – ABSOLUTELY! We’d buy it buy the case, as it’s only 4 Euro a bottle if purchased at a store in Spain (that’s right! restaurants mark up wine in Europe, too!). Oh, and check out that bread – would you believe that it was REALLY spicy? No? Fine – don’t believe me – but when the waiter put it down, he said, in English, “and this bread is spicy – if you don’t like it, that’s ok, we will take it away”. Well, we liked it! We liked it a lot! Each time it was so surprising to bite into bread but then have this insidious onset of mouth heat. Good stuff, indeed!

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Bascook had some not-fussy stuff, like grilled razor clams … (that were delicious …)

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… and slightly fussy stuff, like this amazing pile of hummus, spinach, and pumpkin seeds …

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… and much fussier stuff, like this “pumpkin mix” dish.  But just wait a sec – as fussy as it was, it was.  There were steamed and fried gyoza that really gave you that classic Japanese/Asian gyoza flavor (but were filled with pumpkin!!) as well as a soup and puree that were wonderfully flavorful with just a little bit of spicy kick.

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And we finished on what was essentially a classic breakfasty egg-and-potato dish that screamed out “homey Spain cooking”. A nice way to remind us of the normal food out there, waiting for us tomorrow …

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Written by afterdinnersneeze

21 June 2014 at 6:10pm

Posted in in Europe, Restaurant Reviews

Tagged with , ,

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