As a foodie, I too have made the “pilgrimage” to the Basque Country, and loved every bite of it.
A few years ago, I took my daughter to Azurmendi which was her first ever visit to a three-star Michelin restaurant. While this was a truly amazing experience, even more memorable were the visits to the small restaurants around San Sebastian and Bilbao. This is where I fell in love with Basque food, the lifestyle, and culture. Now, having the opportunity to work with Sagardi, I am learning what makes the Basque kitchen, and its people so very special.
During my first ever lunch at Sagardi Barcelona, I had the privilege to share a table with Mikel and Iñaki López de Viñaspre and the restaurant’s marketing team. Together we savoured our way through the menu, with Mikel and Iñaki making sure I tasted every quintessential dish, and their accompanying wines! This was a truly epic lunch, and the perfect way to discover what the Basque Country has to offer.
Whilst sharing food in the typical Basque style, the Sagardi team explained in passionate detail, why the restaurant was created and their ambitious plans for the future. They also explained how the variety of the Basque landscape provides an enormous choice of produce which is evident in the range of ingredients used in their dishes. Fresh sheep cheese is sourced from the famous Basque mountains, and organic vegetables and free-range beef from their lower-lying meadows. The valleys offer an outstanding selection of wines and along the extensive coastline there is a bountiful supply of fresh, sustainable fish and shellfish.
On the first night Sagardi opened in Amsterdam I took some friends there expecting the restaurant to be doing the same as other newly-opening restaurants I work with – to be taking it slow and testing its menu, however, I could not be more wrong! Sagardi was already feeling like a well-established favourite, with a bubbly, busy service, and food of the exact same quality as in Barcelona. Even more importantly, the intense pride, hospitality and passion the chefs and the staff showed as they served us, was also the same. It was amazing.
That night I dreamt of Gilda’s for the very first time. Now a recurrent and welcomed occurrence, thank goodness, I now have a little of the Basque Country around the corner…