Spring is a my favorite season. Mostly because, after the long winters in Canada, any sign of new life is warmly welcomed. The vibrant colors, fragrant smells and fresh flavors are that much more cherished. Nature’s dormant plants have been waiting to break open, to seek the warm touch of the day’s lengthening sunshine.
Here in Ezcaray, the scenery has changed. The spring buds have bloomed into colorful blossoms and the smell of fresh life symbolizes this feeling of ‘awakening’. But the true excitement for me comes from the new food products that are now available. As a result, there have been new menu changes at Echaurren. Two of theses new dishes have awoken certain memories. They capture this spirited feeling and utilize products that are both new and fresh.
|Ragout of baby peas and borage|
Ragout of baby peas and borage (borraja)
These baby peas are not cheap. At 45 Euros a kilo, they are nature’s caviar! They are lightly sauteed in jamón oil and served with a soft yolk and borage stems and flowers. When combined, these products create a dish that is vibrantly green: a true sign of spring. The crisp, clean flavors lighten the soul.
|White asparagus with St. Georges mushrooms|
White Asparagus with St. Georges Mushrooms (perrechicos)
These mushrooms are very unique and extremely fragrant, reminiscent of fresh pine. Therefore, they are best served raw. They are plated with white asparagus that has been cooked ‘under pressure’ at 65 degrees for 4 hours. The base of the dish is a mayonnaise made with perrechicos, that is covered in fresh, thinly shaved ones on top and some olive oil. The guests can smell the plate before it has even entered the dinning room: an awakening of spring!
Text: Miles Pundsack-Poe, participant in 2012 ICEX Young Chefs Culinary Scholarship in Spain.
Photos: Miles Pundasack-Poe, ICEX.
Restaurants: Echaurren (Ezcaray, La Rioja), from March 14 – June 14 and Nerua (Bilbao), from June 14 – September 14.