Hello to all
After three months at Martin Berasategui the organizers of the Basque Stage offered Ruth and I the opportunity to experience and work with some other typical Basque establishments. The Idea was to give us a more diverse learning experience of Basque cuisne and culture.
My first stop on this new adventure was Solana 4. A small wine & pintxos bar, located in the quaint village of Tolosa. It sits in front of one of the best farmers markets that I have seen. The famous Tinglado farmers market in Tolosa has been running on Saturdays since 1786 and plays an integral role of menus designer, whither it be a pintxo or a full meal.
Solana (as we all call the place) has a small galley-like kitchen. It consists of an induction burner, microwave and salamander. This setup dictates simple, relatively fast, and yet very delicious food. The Super Woman that is in charge of Solana’s food is Sonia. A twelve-year veteran of the locally praised Fronton restaurant (where we will be staging as well) that came on board in October and does it all. She purchases, cleans, and prepares all of the fresh produce. She also takes customers orders, serves the food, cleans all the dishes and repeats it all over again. The rest of the crew is Leyre, Leyre and Ivan, the bartenders . They fill different shifts throughout the day since the doors open at 7:30 and closes at midnight or later on weekends.
During the two weeks I spent there I sliced Jamon (here in Spain Jamon is sliced with a long thin knife, while it rests on a Jamonero)and I can assure you I have a lot to improve on this very unique skill. I was thaught how to make very typical basque dishes such as Piparade, Puerro y Patata, Arroz con Leche, and Torrija. I made various pintxos: a great tuna belly on toast with a great pepper and onion vinaigrette, the very typical to Gipozkua Gilda, Revuelto de hongos, Fresh Chorizo poached in sidra, and Morcilla with carmellized red onion to name a few. During lunch and dinner hours people had the option of coming in and having a great fresh meal cooked for them. These meals would normally progress from Jamon, move on to a salad of some sort, normally a tomato salad with canned Tuna, boquerones and the “spread on anything to make it better” sal morejo. After some fresh veggies it is time for some pan roasted ones. A mix of what ever we had would end up roasted and some charred and then possibly a little drizzle of raw egg yolk to create a little sauce. Since it is Spring we did have the great gisantes and people could order those of course. The last course typically would be Beef tenderloin or Solomillo as it is called in this neck of the woods. Not my ideal cut of meat but cooked rare and this stuff had some of the best marbling I had ever seen. If anyone felt that they where in need of a something sweet or fatty to seal the deal, it was a choice of what had been made that day, Arroz con leche, Torrija, or maybe some great Idiazabal cheese from Martinxiki.
My time at Solana was a great opportunity for me to learn hands on about the food and the people who cook it, in a authentic Basque village. Having worked alone for these weeks I was needing to step up my Spanish skills and try to pick up a few Euskara words to put a smile on the locals faces. This has been an eye-opening experience in many ways and as far as i am concerned it was a great choice.
The adventure continues…..
untill next time