My next stop in the Basque country was Asador Etxebarri, the ultimate grill in Axpe valley not far from Bilbao. Victor Arguinzoniz is a legend among the globe-trotting foodies and is known for his obsession with wood-fired grilling. Everything at this restaurant with picturesque surroundings is grilled or at least smoked over the grill, that had been constructed by Arguinzoniz himself. Tasting menu, created from the freshest and the most seasonal ingredients, is the only option here.
The whole experience and the emphasis on seasonality reminded me of Japanese kaiseki, which is all about creating the maximum impact while keeping things simple (as opposite to simplistic). Some dishes were more striking than others, but those who hit the spot, were really worth the 1.5 hours drive from San Sebastian and the trip by plane too. To mention a few, plump and sweet prawns from Palamos with a hint of smoke and Galician beef chuleta. That beef chop made me reconsider my beef preferences for life.