Tag Archives: fish

We Made It To Spain

Of course between Paris, Marseille, Lourmarin, Guéthary, and Hondarribia (Hondarribia is the Basque, but the town is also known as Fuenterrabía in Spanish and Fontarabie in French), much is missing from my typically daily entries here.  That noted, we are very happy to be in Spain.  This part of Europe is especially striking due to the stark constrast in food, language, and terrain found just across the border from one country to another.  A twenty or thirty minute drive from Biarritz and we’re in a whole other world.  We landed in Hondarribia, in the old quarter of town at an amazing hotel called Obispo, housed in what was a 15th century palace.  I love this place.  It’s charming–old yet comfortable, and impeccably kept including all the amenities a modern girl could want (WiFi!  while it was fun to be liberated, it is fun to reconnect too).

We arrived slightly exhausted from all the fun we had with our friends, the vacationing Parisians, in Guéthary (is it possible to have too much fun?) so we did the unthinkable and sat down to dinner at 8:30 (does it count that it hasn’t been before 10PM or finished before 12AM for the last week?).  The Hotel Obispo recommended Sebastián, which happens to be just around the corner (no walk or drive to the new part of town necessary).  It looks beautiful from the outside, so it wasn’t hard to draw us in.  Here is our meal in pictures and a few words (I was too relaxed to remember to take any establishing shots, but the restaurant’s website has a good virtual tour and great historical photographs too).

sebastian window

The restaurant’s website states that “[the space] was a grocery shop several centuries ago [and] the most representative elements of the shop are still conserved, such as the window displays and glass cases once displaying the groceries which supplied numerous generations of residents of Hondarribia.”  Here are various bottles (age unknown) in the window display case.

our view

We ate upstairs.  This was our view; a window box planted with purple amaranth and ivy.  Across the street are window boxes with red and white geraniums.

upstairs

The upstairs dining area.  Note that we are among the first present for dinner…there was one other couple across from us.  The benefit of the early hour is great photographs.  I loved the alternating colors between the beams on the ceiling.  Only a Spanish chef/restaranteur could pull that off.  Honestly.

chefs suggestions

These are the beautiful cards containing the chef’s suggestions for the evening.  Qué bonita!  Las ilustraciones sólo!

tablecloth

An essential component of any fine dining experience: fine linens for the table.  I found Sebastián’s particularly soothing due to a delicate pique.

txacoli

Txacoli: it has become as essential to my existence as Almodóvar.  Sin txacoli lo que es la vida?  These tall cups (unlike the shorter versions I am used to drinking Spanish wine in) are very cool.  It is like drinking liquid ambrosia, the liquid of life.  The wine is produced in the countryside outisde of Hondarribia.

txacoli autentico

Don’t be fooled by any imitations; the “Getariako Txacolina” sticker across the foil is as essential as any Bordeaux A.O.C.  It is an extremely limited area in which these special grapes are grown, and the special wine produced.

gazpacho

Ah gazpacho, con una anchoa y algún aceite de oliva bueno

monkfish

Monkfish and shrimp–preparation unknown, rather forgotten, in a good bottle of Txacoli

tuna

The “taco de atun rojo de Hondarribia a la parilla.”  With my limited Spanish I have little clue what I ate (sorry).  I half expected some tuna in a corn tortilla.  Wrong.  What came was 1,000 times better.  It tasted like the most beautiful tuna steak seared in a deep seasoned pan of pork fat–there was surely a strong bacon-ish element that was delicious.  On the side are some crispy onions and a drizzle of parsely-seasoned olive oil.  Amazing.

brick of chocolate

I can’t be sure because I forgot to photograph the menu, but I am fairly certain that this dessert was advertised as the “chocolate brick.”  It delivered as advertised.

Overall an extremely successful first night in Spain.  We will indubitably return to Sebastián–did I mention the service is impeccable?  If, for nothing else, the fine pique linens!  Salut!

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Reporting Back: Syvlan Mishima Brackett of Peko Peko at Mission Street Food

Last night at Mission Street Food was great.  Sylvan did an excellent job, and as I predicted, the croquettes were a sleeper hit (neither of the two people I was dining with wanted to order them and we ended up getting a second order).  Here’s my evening in pictures:

establishing

Above is the facade of the restaurant known as Mission Street Food every Thursday and Saturday evening.

sign3

On each Thursday and Saturday evening a simple laminated sign that reads “Mission Street Food” is posted on the hostess stand.

line2

And on each Thursday and Saturday folks line up three and four deep and down the block for their dinner.

the hostess

The lovely hostess takes names.

sylvan steelhead

This Saturday Sylvan Mishima Brackett (in blue) prepared the steelhead salmon for the Ochazuke (a bowl of rice with green tea and dashi, salt-cured steelhead salmon, scallions and nori).

sylvan menu meeting

This Saturday Sylvan Mishima Brackett described the Oshinko (cucumber with shiso, napa cabbage with kombu and red chili and green pepper and katsuobushi pickles) to the team of servers at a menu meeting.

halibut

It was too dark for great pictures, but we ate some amazing halibut (Hirame kombu-jime: local halibut cured with kombu; with little lettuces and radishes).

steelhead

Here is the transformation of the steelhead you saw Sylvan pouring over above.

The croquettes and pork belly went too fast for the shutter (we ate two orders of both), as did the scallion pancake with duck and apricots (x2) not mentioned on the previous menu (it turned into a beautifully refined taco when folded).

Bravo Sylvan!

Sylvan can be found at eatpekopeko.com and twitter.com/pekopekobento

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Hardly Brackett-worthy, but what is?

I fought to pull it together tonight for a casual outdoor dinner with family.  We hadn’t seen these guys in a while in spite of the fact we live about a twelve-minute walk apart (it was that kind of semester).  I was uncharacteristically exhausted this afternoon I found myself debating with I. about whether to order Zachary’s (an East Bay thing I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to convert to after living in New York for as long as I did–I’ll never forget the first time I had it at my mother-in-law’s house–Chicago-style pizza??? Qu-est-ce que c’est??!!  At this point I eat it and I enjoy it, but I don’t ever think I’ll totally get it).

Suffice it to say it wasn’t my finest moment in the kitchen (or at the grill for that matter) but I love this super easy recipe for grilling.  You prepare a sort of relish of garlic, paprika, lemon, parsley, and olive oil (which takes about five minutes) and then do a simple grill; could be vegetables, seafood, or steak.  Cook to your liking then simply drizzle the sauce over your vegetables, seafood, what have you.  I’ve done it with halibut, cod, and mixed vegetables (peppers, zucchini, onion etc.) so far, and everyone is happy.  Technically I haven’t tried this with steak, but I think it would be perfect.  The epicurious recipe says it’s for seafood–try it and let me know what you think.  Here’s the cod from tonight:

paprika

Click here for the original recipe. They call it a “dressing” but I like stretching the definition of “relish,” just for fun.

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YUME! *SAIKO!

About six months ago two of my nearest and dearest (and biggest food and sushi appreciating) friends, Boris and KRB, took me to 15 East in New York. We sat at the bar while Master Chef Masato Shimizu served us piece after piece of delicately cut fish atop warm, fleshy grains of rice.  I’d never had anything like it in my life.  Not even on my trip to Tokyo did I eat sushi like this (for some reason on my short stint in Tokyo I didn’t have good luck with sushi, maybe it was the jet lag?  But became ADDICTED to Okinawan cuisine at this one little spot–if memory serves it’s Ryutan?).  In any case, 15 East blew my mind.  Just the experience of two temperatures in my mouth; the subtle warmth of the rice with the coolness of the fish, was a total revelation.

The months since have been practically torture; not just due to a desire for the flavor and feel of 15 East, but by the odious experience of eating any other sushi, which now tastes bland at best.  The offenses that are committed all around us against fish and rice, a noble creature and sustaining staple, are just despicable.

Two months ago, I discovered the existence of Yume Sushi on Alameda through intense combing of yelp.com.  Something in my gut told me there had to be better sushi in the Bay Area than anything I’d tried in my searching over the past 3+ years–and Yume could be it.   Continue reading

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