A very fine feast
We began in Bilbao, with a lunch experience so theatrical you could put it on a West End stage and have queues down Shaftesbury Avenue for at least a decade. Chef Eneko Atxa’s three-star Michelin restaurant Azurmendi is a four-hour long piece of performance art that celebrates Basque culture and ingredients (fish, mainly), with 20-odd courses, and a touch of alchemy regarding a particular pressed mussel dish. Any dinner plans were jettisoned in favour of a pleasantly comforting food coma. A couple of days later we swung by Atxa’s new rooftop restaurant NKO, which is perched atop the city’s Radisson Collection Hotel and serves Japanese Basque fusion dishes. We scoffed oxtail bao in farmhouse milk bread and edamame with espelette pepper as well as red mullet, Basque cider and lime nigiri.