PS: I was going through my photos for the year when I chanced upon some lovely photos of myself with Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena. I've decided to post some of these very personal photos for this entry on one of the most enjoyable days in my Travelife for 2014.
The car was to take me to his restaurant.
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It was a short drive to the restaurant from the Maria Cristina, so soon I found myself in the restaurant Arzak.
This was where I was going to spend the day with the legendary culinary team of Juan Mari and his daughter and heir apparent Elena, the world's top female chef; although I did head back to my hotel very quickly sometime during the day to change into a little black dress for the meal proper.
DELICIOUS FLIGHTS OF FANCY
In addition, there was the opportunity to explore their 100,000 bottle wine cellar and their world-famous culinary laboratory.
On the third floor of their building, you see, two chefs work full-time experimenting on new dishes to boggle the foodie world.
This is their famous culinary laboratory, and Juan Mari himself gave me the tour. Few people ever get to see this laboratory which employs pretty stringent security, so I was very lucky.
MECCA FOR FOOD
|That's me and Juan Mari at the entrance|
There are so many good restaurants in San Sebastian, and even more wonderful tapas bars. Most of the tapas bars are pretty touristy, though, so you have to make sure you go to a really good one that locals frequent.
Mugaritz, by the way, is currently the fourth best restaurant in the world, according to the S. Pellegrino list.
|The kitchen of Mugaritz|
ABOVE THE OTHERS
Every foodie has his or her favourite.
|A nice long chat with Juan Mari|
while I was in San Sebastian last summer,
living a #Travelife...
GRACE UNDER PRESSURE
|Elena and Juan Mari Arzak|
None of the pressures are apparent, however, when you meet the Arzaks.
Although I left with little doubt that their very unassuming restaurant on one of San Sebastian’s busier streets is an incredibly well-orchestrated machine.
Elena Arzak, the world’s best female chef, was preparing the usual five-hour gastronomic lunch for a full house of diners, many of who had traveled from very far, expecting to be blown over.
And yet at 11 AM she was all smiles, with enough thoughtfulness to inquire after my family and my summer holiday through France and Spain.
SCIENCE IN THE MAKING
This is not too far from the truth either, since this lab is the core of a temple of hallowed dining.
VISITING THE SOURCE
“From these spices, I get inspiration for my dishes,” he told me.
THE WORLD AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
This was literally the culinary equivalent of a Travelife around the world.
A DIFFERENT WORLD,
“You will taste this today,” he said.
“This dish contains the spice my father showed you earlier,” she said with a smile, as her waitstaff set artfully-arranged plates containing ingredients of all shapes and colors, and what I thought were slices of beef, in front of us.
DREAMING OF SOMEWHERE ELSE
|Jose Mari even accompanies us to our waiting car|
after that fantastic meal
After taking several forkfuls, I still could not make out the spice per se.
But with each bite, I was transported to a land of mosques and palaces, where I imagined I saw veiled dancers in flowing robes and men with turbans gliding across the room, living their own versions of a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.
PS: Next major foodie stop: two meals in Noma in Tokyo next month, and one meal in Noma in Copenhagen later in 2015...