BILBAO: IT'S A SIN
Who’d have thunk it, eh?
After a week in Spain, DH feeling a little jaded. Well I never did. Well, in fact, I did. We both did, which is why, on our last day in Spain, both of us turned our heads away from Mr Booze and tried to do a bit of detox.
Mind you, we did it the very Spanish way, not with such silly things as juices and water, but by doing exactly as we had done all week except substituting our normal small shots of beer for the readily available “sin” alcohol versions as we tootled from bar to bar.
Bilbao, is one of the best places is Spain to peregrinate in search of good tapas because, alongside the excellent range of montaditos (stuff on bread, remember?) excellent hot and cold tapa are available in most bars, from meaty bocquerones in vinegar to small bowls of chunky oxtail stew.
Many people, when they visit this city, stick to the old town with only the possible short walk up to The Guggenheim taking them away from the concentration of bars on the seven streets heading from one of Europe’s biggest markets.
HP, however, had done his research, well of course he had, and had selected two or three possible areas in the new town where many of the locals head for post work drinks of glasses of local wine, Txacoli, poured from a height to give it a little fizz.
It had been at least three weeks since our last hunk of steak so, almost inevitably, the last meal of the trip was going to involve a visit to an asador. HP’s research had offered up another suggestion in the new town, Asador Oteiza which, unlike many asadors who get their beef from outside Spain, specialises in Chuleton de Buey from Corunia, just down the road in Galicia.
There is no point trying to finesse a meal in an Asador. Just begin with some morcilla, in this case a particularly good artisnal specimen served appropriately with sweet, roasted red peppers.
Then, the Chuleton for two (usually just over 1kg) with no extraneous vegetables to distract from the meat, in this case, perfectly cooked and of exceptional quality.
Help it down with a suitable red, in this case, a bottle of Rivola.
Follow up with a couple of perfunctory, but harmless bowls of helado and finish up with a coffee and a couple of shots of Orujo Blanco or Patxaran.
It is a simple, but faultless, formula and one DH have stuck to hundreds of times in Spain. It is what Spain does best and , while people may flock up the coast to San Sebastian in search of places that have been swooned over by journos across the world, it is unassuming places such as Oteiza which keep DH coming back to our favourite country time after time.
As I said at the beginning of the post, after all of that and the week that had preceded it, our last day was one of almost biblical abstinence and HP felt all the better for it as he headed back to London this morning
Me? I am off down South where their may well be some plates of fried fish I my immediate future.
After the indulgences of the last week, however, I suspect I shall be living in “sin” for a while yet
The last picture is for those of you who like courage in the face of almost impossible odds. Promoting vegetarianism in Spain. About as likely as someone from outside Eastern Europe ever winning the Eurovision Song Contest again.
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