After visiting txakoli producer Ameztoi in Getaria earlier this month we walked down to the center of town for lunch.
Getaria is an old fishing village, officially declared a villa or place of preconceived origin by King Alfonso VIII of Castile in 1209, but with roots tracing back to Roman times. Its harbor has a history as the first whaling port in Europe and today it teems with catches of tuna, sea bass, mackerel, dentex, grouper, bonito, anchovies and other species.
The combination of local wine, freshly caught grilled fish and the gastronomical culture of Getaria makes for a charming encounter, and the gourmet based tourism increases the towns 2700 inhabitants with an impressive amount of both Spanish and International visitors during the summer months each year.
But our goal this day was not one of the more well-known up-scale restaurants like Elkano or Kaia-Kaipe but Asador Astillero – located at the end of the harbor over a non-descriptive fish shop owned by the restaurant. Booking a table had been quite difficult as none of us knew Euskari or Spanish, but whispers had been heard of this Getaria restaurant specializing in turbot, and as my colleague is a real afficiendo missing out on eating here simply wasn’t an option.
Upon arrival we were ushered up a flight of stairs that looked like they belonged in northern California rather than Spain and shown to our table. There is something to be said for eating seafood with a panorama over the harbor where it’s been caught, and from the moment we saw that most of the main courses not only consisted of protein only but were also priced per kilo we were won over.
We started off with a bottle of txakoli and some goose barnacles or percebes. Now these are literally impossible to find in Norway (at least on any table I know of) but with their elegant flavours and juicy texture they’re known as a delicacy in many parts of Spain and Portugal. To make matters worse there are plenty of different species of goose barnacles spread across the Scandinavian waters, people are just too set in their ways to realize how good this stuff actually is!
Next were sardines with garlic and chili. This was an amazing dish. So fresh it seemed as if the sardines had just jumped up from the ocean and landed on our plate. The garlic and chili infused oil was discrete yet powerful enough to complement the dish, in general it was proof of how fantastic food can be when you don’t muck about with it too much.
This was a dish as delicious as its plating was ugly. A simple salad with snow crab, prawns, ox heart tomatoes and salad. Nothing more nothing less.
Local turbot with the same accompaniments as the sardines. Prefectly grilled and carved at the table for us. Wonderful food.
Upon arriving at the restaurant I had snuck a picture of these beauties in the kitchen. They looked great, but what we actually managed to ordered for dessert was decidedly more homely…
The classic cheesecake, goats milk mamia (or cuajada in Spanish) served with honey and Basque flan looked like three miniature train wrecks but tasted great much thanks to the high quality of the dairy products used.
We ended up paying 170 euros for the lunch. Money well spent even if it wasn’t the cheapest meal we had while in Basque Country. But sometimes it’s just wonerful to sit down at a table and eat food of where the quality makes you happy. Just genuinly happy.
And maybe that could have something to do with why people from far and abroad keep flocking to these tiny coastal towns in the heart of Basque Country…