A Gastronome's Paradise?

According to the 2009 rankings of that iconic Italian water, San Pellegrino, among the eight best restaurants in the world, four are in Spain. That's really rather extraordinary. They are El Bulli (#1), Mugaritz (#4), El Celler de Can Roca (#5), and Arzak (#8). Two in Catalonia and two in the Basque country. Filling out the top ten are two from the US, two from France, and one each from the UK and Denmark. Asun had a memorable lunch with Cristi and Daniel at Arzak back in December to celebrate Daniel's eightieth birthday. The star chefs who lead these culinary meccas have mentored dozens and dozens of other extraordinary chefs, creating a ripple effect that one does notice all over the country. We're not exactly suffering down South. Expectations are high. I've written earlier about Dani Garcia's place here in Malaga, and that's just one of many superb tapas bars available to us around the city. And the 12 euro menú del día at Bilmore, while not really high cuisine, is always excellent; a better meal would be difficult to get for three times the price in the US. Just within a quarter mile radius of this apartment we've got a dozen magnificent restaurants to choose from. And San Sebastian? For the past several years I've been having lots of fun listening to Daniel Arnedo describe the "errands" he must run downtown. Oh, the sacrifices. The basic narrative goes like this: "well, I had to go pick up some medications at the cooperative, and since I was right there, I thought I'd just stop by X (name of some fine bar) to rest for a minute. Well, the kind gentleman tending bar suggested I try some Y (fill in with some amazing culinary invention). Oh, holy Mother, it really hit the spot, and the wine that went with it was simply extraordinary..." And so it goes, day after day. His latest errand brought him back to the basics: just a glass of nice white wine and three fresh oysters. Not a bad midmorning snack for an eighty year old. (In the photo, Daniela in front of some nice looking raw octopus in the famous Boqueria market in Barcelona.)