An hour's drive from Biarritz, Martin Berasategui, the Spanish Basque chef - three Michelin stars, meets with his young staff in the open kitchen of his restaurant in Lasarte-Oria, an autonomous community of the Basque Country.
Each morning along Biarritz's main beach, depending on the tides, surfers practice mastering the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean. These ocean dancers can be seen gracefully maneuvering along the thundering waves.
At the same time, an hour's drive from this famous seaside town, Martin Berasategui, the Spanish Basque cook with a huge smile, meets with his young staff of 50 in the 350 sq. meter open kitchen of his restaurant in Lasarte-Oria, an autonomous community of the Basque Country.
He has learned how to tame the surging waves, emerging as one of Spain's most creative and talented chefs (garnering three Michelin stars). As a seasoned professional, he dispenses his advice in a silence akin to that of a cathedral so that the service for the forty delighted guests in attendance can be perfect.
His menu resembles a wine list. Each dish has a date of birth.
Like great vintage bottles, time does not seem to have taken hold, especially for the caramelized mille-feuille of smoked eel, foie gras, pearl onions, and green apple whose recipe was developed in 1995. The passionate (could she be otherwise?) young sommelier from Argentina, Valentina Littman, carefully approaches. In her slender hands she carries the restaurant's famous wine list.
She has at her disposal, on the third underground level of the restaurant, more than 10,000 bottles from the world's greatest domaines: David Leclapart, Jacques Lassaigne, Jacques Selosse…for the champagnes and not to mention bottles of Clos Rougeard "Brèze" 2009. The Spanish wines are displayed in a place of prominence.
The collection is so unique and judiciously curated that we feel like children standing in front of a toy store window.
Life is a perpetual state of discovery, so we let Valentina guide us. For almost three years she has presided over this dining room that opens out towards a rolling green hill. And she is more than capable of finding the perfect match. She brings out a Rioja Blanc, Vina Tondonia from 1991. Incredibly fresh, without a single note of dissonance, and at perfect maturity, it is a guide that transports us to another world.
Next, we are led to the island of Mallorca with the vineyard of Anima Negra (a producer of wines among the most unique in Spain) and its 2013 vintage whose notes of thyme, red fruit, and spices peter out of our glasses. We are like a message in a bottle floating in the sea. How nice it is to be lulled by the waves!