What do you expect from a place that 25 years confirms Michelin three saddles? Unbridled luxury? Illusionism made food? Look instead at the restaurant Arzak. From the outside, it seems a solid tavern. Parking is tight as the bathroom. A few hundred meters before, towards the center of San Sebastian, the most beautiful tourist town of Spain, there are dozens of villas and gardens with trees that Juan Mari, the chef of the Basque culinary breakthrough, he could easily buy years and years ago. But no. The choice was to stay in the inn's Day. And fit.
It 'a building of end' 800. Solid, but intricate. To accommodate the wine cellar millionaires was adapted the mezzanine: walls of zinc, led lights, constant temperature and, at the center, the old trunk that held the roof. For parking there is valet, to serve two waiters per table. Everything, in short, as it should be for this level of local, only a lot more tiring. Why stay, then? The two Arzak, the patriarch Juan Mari and his daughter Elena, pride prefer to remain themselves. With fewer tables than they would like three months full, but also a menu more accessible than others (€ 180) and a symbiotic relationship with the city, farmers and fishermen.
Juan Marie Arzak lived the years of terrorism of ETA. He could have run away instead worked for reconciliation. Even by age, he could have claimed the birthright of the new Spanish cuisine and instead left it to Ferran Adrià recognizing a plus ideological. Some say that Adrià cooking ideas, while the Arzak you really eat. It 'a joke, but he tells something real.
The creative workshop of the restaurant of San Sebastian is a good example of their way to achieving excellence. Visiting it is a rare concession by Elena Arzak, 45, a traveling image of the style of family and best female chef in the world in 2012. And 'right above the restaurant. Alongside tenants and food, good neighbors. The "laboratory" or, as he prefers to Elena to not confuse it with something chemical and artificial, "the kitchen of investigation, research and innovation" is a three-room, more or less 60 square meters. There is an office, to study and write recipes, there is a "bank of flavors", a small room 4x4 plastered to the ceiling with boxes with all sorts of ingredients: rice to tapioca, from exotic spices and dried fruit. "Looking around - says Elena - there is always an opportunity to un'accostamento ever attempted". Finally there is the real kitchen. Four burners, a refrigerator: could be the kitchen of any family, colorful and lively, if not for some gadgets. From the freeze dryer to liquid nitrogen, dry ice from the distiller.
"Our effort - says Elena - is to think in an original way. This, for example, is an ordinary coffee machine, the kind that can make cappuccino froth with a spout of steam. E 'enough to invent the shrimp flavored with apple ". The idea, replicable at home, is to fill the tank with apple juice instead of plain water and then spray the shrimp. "It is important not to take anything for granted. Go beyond convention ". They work in 5 in this tiny kitchen-lab. Invent, experiment, create. What surprised the critics in the restaurant downstairs is invented here a year before. It looks like a normal kitchen, only 5 star chefs working there full-time. Not enough? In a discipline so competitive and changing so quickly, most of machines and computers is still the talent to make a difference.