This menu was similar to, but slightly different from the meal I had at Arzak in late July/early August, 2012, but I was more than happy to go down that path once again. Arzak represents a brilliant combination of modern, creative, quasi-molecular cuisine with enough concessions to traditional Basque and Spanish cuisine to please the most demanding diner. Everything is original and creative yet the flavors are wonderfully intense and complementary. The food is always recognizable despite a few detours in exotic ways. A great example of an amazing course is their Cromlech, which is basically a foie gras, a genius preparation that is eaten with your fingers. This is avant garde cooking, but everything works - the flavors, texture and richness of the dish. Some of the other dishes are much more traditional, such as the sea bass marinated in gin and served with potatoes, the poached egg cooked at a low temperature as well as the sauteed lobster. The play of many different ingredients that you do not normally find at most three-star restaurants worked brilliantly thanks to the terrific talents and palates of the father and daughter chef team of Juan-Mari and Elena Arzak.

The 2005 Pazo de Senorans Seleccionada was outstanding, and I was blown away by one of my favorite Austrian producers, Knoll. The 2004 Knoll Riesling Ried Loibenberg was a big, full-bodied, dry, mineral-laced Riesling that was performing beautifully at age 9. It was a perfect match with several of the dishes, particularly the hake fish, the sea bass and the poached egg and lobster. We finished with another brilliant wine, the 2004 Pintia from the Spanish appellation of Toro. This estate is owned by the proprietor of Vega Sicilia, and the wine was a brilliant, rich, dense plum/purple-colored, full-bodied effort with lots of scorched earth, smoke, blackberry and cassis characteristics. It is just hitting adolescence.

This was a brilliant, fun night of great cuisine as well as intriguing and stunning wines.

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