I hate to admit but I cringe at food ignorance based partly on one’s own circumstances, experience, and more about the inability to hold greater horizons to learn.
Now enter in the world of Elkano, the setting is simple and elegant, and now you are in the world of Aitor and his mom, a family run business priding themselves on reputation. Elkano. we had three days of eating fish and trying the various elements as Aitor puts it. The fish is about the head, cheek, body and bones. You can have deep sea. fish or rock but the bottom feeders are thrown away.
Aitor detests when fish live in the sand and suck off the floor of the ocean. I agree it is sensible but then again who thinks about such things. For most fish lovers it is key to understand the idea “no two fish are the same” and more importantly fish have their own terroir based on where fish live and more importantly what they eat. This day I chose a large rouget (red mullet) it is the largest I’ve seen and a winter catch.
The fish meat is tender yet firm and I am excited to eat the fish taking it apart bit by bit. That’s my way, I never fork my fish and that is probably because I am an amateur du cuisine. I study the anatomy of fish to see how to eat it and I go through part by part never leaving the cheek or brain, yet I avoid the eyes.
There is something about the Basque that is unique, their interest to explore and pursue tradition and life in general. A local told me Basque are loyal and take time to build relationships but once they are friends it is forever, and adults act like kids eating in groups, it is a pleasure to watch.
Aitor is seriously passionate and committed to his work, and it shows in everything he does. I speak with the staff and it is rare he takes time off, as he loves what he does. It is so rare to find such integrity in one’s work, their job is about maintaining clients and leaving them feeling content without pushing them. Ordering at Elkano is more about a philosophical discussion instead of feeding your appetite although they are careful not to over feed you.
The grilled turbot is something you shouldn’t miss or the lobster and believe it or not we had steak, surf and turf. Or you can try the family recipe of crab cooked in broth and finished in the oven, it is unique and definitely worth trying. But remember each food has its origins so we cannot always determine if a food is so-called “good or bad” based our own taste, we can determine if it is suitable or desirable in terms of our own taste.