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Affordable High-End Spanish Food: Dining at Narru


A PHOTO ESSAY

By Lu Sobredo


“Every day I strive to convey my passion for cooking to clients at the Narru.” ~ Chef Iñigo Peña


Spain is like home to my family. My husband and I have been visiting this European country for the past 12 years. Our familiarity with the culture, people, and fascination with Spanish cuisine has grown. We are not rich, and yet we find a way to wander the world particularly Spain.

My goal was to create a blog site about health and travel. I wanted to show that a debilitating chronic illness (mine is Rheumatoid Arthritis aka RA) need not hamper one’s desire to travel; and to offer options to the traveler on a budget who long for a quality experience.

Donastia-San Sebastián is internationally known for its Basque cuisine. It is a well-deserved reputation. There are at least 16 Michelin Star restaurants in the City. We will save up for one of those uniquely lavish experiences for our next trip. (https://www.sansebastianturismo.com/en/eat/basque-cuisine.) 

During our winter visit to Spain in 2018, our plan was to add to our exposure to Spanish cuisine through Basque food. Our quest led us to a high-end and yet fairly affordable dining experience at Narru Bar and Restaurant in Donastia-San Sebastián in the Basque Country. 

Finding Narru at Hotel Niza: San Sebastián, ©James Sobredo


Narru
was highly recommended by our Spanish family and other close friends who are long-term residents of Donastia-San Sebastián. It is indeed representative of new Basque cooking, professional & caring staff, and a gastronomic vision of a celebrated young chef. 

Narru boasts a creative young Chef, Iñigo Peña (now 28), who at the age of 16 trained under the best, Juan Mari Arzak, the father of new Basque cuisine. Yes, of the famed Restaurante Arzak, aptly named after the master. Find out more about the young chef: http://narru.es/en/chef/. Chef Peña was also named in the top ten young European chefs. (http://www.gastroenophile.com/2010/11/top-10-young-european-chefs.html). 

I purposely did not access the Narru website before we made reservations for dinner. I didn’t want my perception influenced by descriptive words, preferring instead to have the food speak to me. We knew where it was located, as my husband on his previous trip this past summer 2017 had the pleasure of what he termed “only a simple dinner.” I did take a peak at their online site afterwards, just to find out about the behind-the-scene source of the understated elegant dishes we enjoyed. If you're checking their website, the menu prices may not be current, so pay attention to the printed menu instead. For the high quality and creative cuisine Narru serves, the prices are a bargain.

This PHOTO ESSAY expresses how much we appreciated dining at Narru. We intend to keep going back. Photos of dishes that we selected are those of our: appetizers/pinchos or pintxos, wine, main courses and dessert—a dinner experience that lasted a good 2 & 1/2 hours. Dining in Spain is not a race. It is done at a leisurely pace to fill the senses. An important reminder: call or go in the restaurant during the day to make your dinner reservation. While you're there at lunch, try a couple of their pinchos (pintxos in Basque spelling). 

Oh, you can enjoy a brief slideshow version of these photos at www.facebook.com/lutravelsabroad posted on January 15, 2018, 11:24 a.m. 

For the complete set of photos and descriptions, here we go:

WINE

Red Wine, ©Lu Sobredo

My husband selected red wine 2012 Muga from the Rioja region. I don’t drink wine while on my RA medications, but I like to sniff to get a whiff. I still recall what wine aroma and wine bouquet are like from a really good wine. My husband James thoroughly enjoyed the affordable small bottle, a delightful accompaniment to our choices of dishes.

APPETIZERS (4)

Tasting the Croquette, ©Lu Sobredo

 Iberian Ham Croquette was my starter dish. I usually avoid anything that might be deep fried or made of potatoes. I made an exception and did not regret it. It’s light and moist, no oily taste at all, and just seasoned perfectly. That has been true of all the dishes we selected. 

Squeezing Lemon on the Squid (Calamari), ©Lu Sobredo

Tasty Squid was cooked at just the right texture. Again, light and tender, but no oily taste. 


Mussels Sauteed in Wine, ©Lu Sobredo


Rock Mussels Sauteéd had a wonderful wine infused sauce perfect for dipping hearty freshly Basque baked bread.

Secret Pork: A Secret No Longer, ©Lu Sobredo

Iberian Secret Pork, Dijon Mustard and cubed green Basque Apple Sauce was the surprise early in the evening. It looked pretty simple and plain on the plate until I ran my fork through it to taste. The tender meat effortlessly pulled apart and clung to my fork as if it belonged there. Once in my mouth, I thought I had gone to pork heaven where all the secret pork dishes are kept.

MAIN COURSE (2)

Delectable Rack of Suckling Lamb, ©Lu Sobredo

Rack of Suckling Lamb roasted at low temperature was amazing. I took a taste  from my husband’s plate. I felt like my mouth leapt for joy while my hubby felt a little like a cannibal. I think the guilt dissipated after each bite.


Bacalao on Heavenly Sauce, ©James Sobredo

Roasted Bacalao, cod in its own sauce over Basque apple and its juice was my main course. I don’t see this exactly described on the online menu. Light white fish with a delicate sauce to entice your palate for more. The plate was wiped clean with a piece of bread straight into my mouth. 

DESSERT (1)

Chocolate Cake and Oozing Goodness, ©Lu Sobredo

Tarta de Chocolate is a flourless cake with chocolate goodness oozing out once you cut it with a spoon, similar to our slightly heavier-tasting lava cake in the U.S. It took 15 minutes to bake and worth the wait. You can reduce the wait time by deciding in advance what dessert you’d like. 


COFFEE 
If we had opted to have coffee, I would have had a single espresso and for hubby, cafe Americano. It was late for us (although early for locals), so we did forego this portion of the meal and opted instead to converse with a middle-aged couple in the neighboring table. You could tell they were on a date. Later, hubby and I went for a stroll on the promenade by the La Concha Beach.


The evening did not cost us an arm and a leg. One could choose lesser number of  starter items and reduce the cost considerably. Our dinner was under $130 US dollars, much more affordable than the $300 dollar plus per person dining at a Michelin Star restaurant (if you truly want to splurge). For Restaurante Arzak, best to make a reservation 6-12 months in advance. 


Facetime With Our Son Across Two Continents, ©James Sobredo

My husband and I completed the evening with a stroll on the promenade by La Concha, imagining how we could get used to this experience. We capped off the night by a Facetime on our iPhone with our son in California. We panned the phone camera around to show him where we ate dinner. We were excited to share the magical looking promenade, fully glowing under street lamps. The sound of the waves from the Atlantic Ocean was bonus. The weather had stayed calm after a stormy couple of days. Our son’s comment: “My parents look happy.” Yes, indeed. 

Travel sparks the soul. A joyous dining experience lights up the heart.

Essay ©Lu Sobredo
Winter Travel 2018
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED







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