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Anyone have an idea what this may be?

http://flickr.com/photos/barselah/2578321805/

 

That's one crazy-looking crustacean.

 

It's sad that out of the millions of species of plant and animal life on this planet, we consume only a tiny fraction thereof. I think the palate has been expanded by one. :ph43r: :cool:

 

We used to catch them very often, but mostly in early spring. It's an ugly thing to eat, but at least when cooked it turns lobster red, making it more familiar.

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Hmm, yes, but I swear the one Bittor used looked positively homemade. There were fewer holes than the chestnut pan, by the way.   It's really too bad we didn't make it to Etxebarri this time. I'll

  • 1 year later...

Had a fine meal there, but to echo the sentiment some have expressed, I don't think anything stood out from what you can get in other great asador/traditional cooking places in Spain except maybe the veggies served as sides for a grouper, and the egg yolk thing. I wouldn't go though the GPS torture again just to eat there (of course now we've done that the argument disappears), next time we'll spend some more time in gorgeous Asturias instead.

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Had a fine meal there, but to echo the sentiment some have expressed, I don't think anything stood out from what you can get in other great asador/traditional cooking places in Spain except maybe the veggies served as sides for a grouper, and the egg yolk thing. I wouldn't go though the GPS torture again just to eat there (of course now we've done that the argument disappears), next time we'll spend some more time in gorgeous Asturias instead.

Explain "egg yolk thing" please.

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Had a fine meal there, but to echo the sentiment some have expressed, I don't think anything stood out from what you can get in other great asador/traditional cooking places in Spain except maybe the veggies served as sides for a grouper, and the egg yolk thing. I wouldn't go though the GPS torture again just to eat there (of course now we've done that the argument disappears), next time we'll spend some more time in gorgeous Asturias instead.

Explain "egg yolk thing" please.

 

The menu description is "grilled egg yolk with mushrooms". The presentation was of very smooth purple potato puree topped with an egg yolk with a texture slightly more runny than a Japanese style egg (put in boiling water and turn off immediately, wait 15 minutes) and some sort of mushroom (described as a Champignon but I'm not sure which variety) shaved on top. I'm not sure how you grill a yolk, but this initially gives off a powerful smoky scent with an almost unpleasant chemical note that's soon replaced by silky deliciousness.

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Had a fine meal there, but to echo the sentiment some have expressed, I don't think anything stood out from what you can get in other great asador/traditional cooking places in Spain except maybe the veggies served as sides for a grouper, and the egg yolk thing. I wouldn't go though the GPS torture again just to eat there (of course now we've done that the argument disappears), next time we'll spend some more time in gorgeous Asturias instead.

Explain "egg yolk thing" please.

 

The menu description is "grilled egg yolk with mushrooms". The presentation was of very smooth purple potato puree topped with an egg yolk with a texture slightly more runny than a Japanese style egg (put in boiling water and turn off immediately, wait 15 minutes) and some sort of mushroom (described as a Champignon but I'm not sure which variety) shaved on top. I'm not sure how you grill a yolk, but this initially gives off a powerful smoky scent with an almost unpleasant chemical note that's soon replaced by silky deliciousness.

Sounds fascinating - thanks.

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Sivan says they were St Georges Mushrooms.

 

p.s. one way in which Etxebarri differs from some of its peers is presentation. There are dishes served as a naked grilled ingredient, but quite a few have some form of sauce, vegetables, pickles, etc. certainly the food photographs well (except for the egg yolk thing) as you can easily see:

 

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=etxebarri&w=all

 

 

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Asador Etxebarri. Simplicity, rusticity, elegance, ingredients, competence.

 

I’ve just made what I hope to be my final turn. The road winds for a half mile.

 

Upon first seeing those mountains that frame this idyllic valley, it’s hard not to have a smile appear on your face. Yep, I’m here, I’ve seen that picture in the blogs. Relief. I’m going to be fed. Park, comb my hair, wipe the sweat off my brow and proceed towards door number 1.

 

Twenty flies are hovering about the door. Hmmm. I enter. A gritty, local pub-like place with some strange characters hanging about. Hmmm. I spot some stairs. I ascend. Ah yes, much better up here.

 

After a brief pow-wow with my pseudo-English-speaking waitress, I choose the degustation menu with tweaks. And ask them to bring me some appropriate wines, their choice.

 

Tomato soup amuse. An espresso cup’s worth. Some EVOO drops on top. Gulp. Good.

 

Chorizo. Yep, nice chorizo.

 

Montequilla casera de cabra. Homemade Goat Butter. Yep, that’s goat. Served on a piece of toasted bread with some little shavings of something on top. It’s gotta by homemade cuz I doubt that the manufactured stuff tastes that good.

 

More wine please !

 

Percebes a la Brasa. Goose barnacles. Ugly, nasty, hairy, prehistoric suckers. My first time eating good ones. Nice, little chewy, smokey critters. And don’t forget to suck that nasty, hairy thing dry! Mmmm, tasty. And hairy. It’s requires a bit of technique to open these gals up. Break apart that barnacle wrong and you get squirted upon. The second one actually squirted me all over my face. I put that nice, white napkin in my lap to good use. (Everything from here on is cooked a la Brasa, ie charcoal-grilled, hence I will not be repeating that each time.)

 

Gambas de Palamos Okay, let’s compare these two gambas to my King Prawns from Branka. These are redder in color than Branka. A firey red. Looks like they died violently. Burnt at the stake. Bigger heads. Smaller bodies. A notable, pleasant, wood-grilled scent as I breathe in. I rip one in half and attack the head. Lots of juicy, warm gunk. Smokey juicy gunk. Some nice meat, too, is found in there. I’m slurping a bit. A tad noisy. I catch myself. I slow lift my head up and look around the room, sheepishly, with the head still in my hand. Phew! No one noticed. I continue. Juicier heads: 1-0 Etxe is in the lead. On to the bodies. The smokiness that’s been added is very nice indeed and isn’t overpowering at all but the absolutely pure unadulterated crustacean from Branka is simply better. That fact that Branka's bodies were bigger doesn't hurt their case either. 1-1. These gambas were very good, but sometimes supreme simplicity simply wins out. If asked to choose only one, I may opt for Branka.

 

More wine please !

 

Almejas. Clams. About the size of an ovalized, casino chip. Maybe slightly bigger. The shells are filled to the brim with a lovely-looking liquor. Lift, slurp, gnaw, chew, swallow. Ahhh! I have a major insight. I may have just thought a big thought. Ambrosia is not the drink of the Gods! That’s just a myth. Zeus drinks hot, smoked, clam juice, with a little EVOO and a touch of lemon added. Bread is used to mop us every last drop.

 

Things are improving. I’m settling into a certain “pleased” zone now.

 

More wine please !

 

Pupitos. Baby Octopus. 10 of the cutest, tiniest little critters you ever did see. All lined up in a row. On a cool plate. (How shall I describe this plate? Imagine clay that is formed around a foot-long cucumber in semi-circular fashion with each end formed in the shape of a … hmmm … the shape of a … of a dolphin’s nose! The clay is fired in an oven with a bright white glaze. Think white porcelain canoe.) There is a streak of black ink on the far left and far right of the plate. Good x 10.

 

Yemas con zizas. Grilled egg yolk with St Georges mushrooms. This dish didn’t work for me. Lacked a bit of salt. The shaved mushrooms were so mild and thin that I barely noticed their taste and only got a minor texture thing going on. That said, I did seem to mop up every last drop with my bread.

 

More wine please !

 

Note to self: stop saying grazie when you should be saying gracias.

 

Guisantes. Peas. I’m presented with a Gehry-like, curved-sided, cube-shaped bowl. 1.5” per side. Filled ¾ with a green liquid. Pretty color. Lift. Gulp. Good. Oops! I’m now left with a half full bowl with an impressive population of puny peas down below. I guess that’s what the spoon is for. Nicely sweet and smokey.

 

Mero Halibut, I now believe*. When the dish arrives, one word is uttered: Mero. Nothing else. I see mero, yes. But I also see tiny broccoli, fava beens, a rolled grilled lengthy cucumber shaving, grilled spinach and a baby artichoke. A white fish encircled by greenery. With a diagonally positioned carrot. My wine glass is empty. More wine please! My first red wine appears. That fish is good. Very good. The veggies complement the dish nicely and add a heretofore unfound ability to play with different tastes and combinations on the plate. Bravo, but that carrot was a tad over-cooked if you will allow me to nitpick. I’m starting to get full.

 

* Or is it Grouper? Back story. When I asked what mero was, my pseudo-English-speaking waitress brought me her little food dictionary with the name of various fish in 6 languages. Mero was listed as grouper. Hence, end of story. Until the ensuing day (today), when I lunched at Elkano. The owner (the son Aitor) tells me that I should get mero for my main. I ask what’s that? He said halibut. I said “Are you sure?”. He says "yes!". “I thought mero was grouper”, I continue, explaining why. He brings me his little, five-language fish translation booklet and mero is listed as halibut. I'm pretty confident that Aitor knows his fish. I’m assuming I had halibut at both places.

 

Chuleta de vaca. Meat on the bone. A plate arrives with meat and bone. Although the meat is not on the bone! They have pre-sliced it for you into more than a dozen pieces and all is repositioned as if it was still on the bone. But it isn't! A charred, salted top, the next 1/8” is medium and it proceeds to rare and rarer. An inch thick in total. A separate glass bowl arrives with nicely-dressed lettuce.

 

This wine isn’t working for me. I ask for a new red wine. Thanks, much better.

 

Meat: excellent depth of flavor. Lettuce: very very good, simple as can be, nice tangy acidic dressing.

 

Smoked Milk Ice Cream followed by Cheese Flan. I'm full. I’m not expecting nor wanting much. Both were very good. The cheese flan was actually exceedingly good. May have been the best I’ve had. I was quite surprised and disappointed. Why disappointed? I really only wanted to have one spoonful of it. Instead, it was so good, I ate the whole darn thing.

 

Coffee: tastes French.

 

So how do I sum up this much discussed restaurant?

 

Hmmm, let me think about that for a bit. I gotta head out right now for some tapas …

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