My spring. By Josean Alija

Josean Alija. Photo: Andoni Epelde
Josean Alija. Photo: Andoni Epelde

Nature sets the pace of our cooking, we adapt it with every season without censorship to create a cuisine as we feel it. A local cuisine which begins in the vegetable gardens, in the sea, and at the farms.

We are returning to old practices and cultural traditions like seasonality and close connections with the farmers and producers who cultivate ingredients for our needs and with that co-create our food.

Every year we change our menu three times: in spring, in summer and in autumn-winter. Creating a new menu is a long process. We start one year in advance and shape our entire creative process.

Spring in the Basque country brings fantastic products like for example the St. George’s mushrooms and anchovies, but beside that there is something that inspires me more than anything else because of its ephemeral nature:

There is a miracle that occurs in the coastal areas of the Basque Country every spring and which happens only for three weeks: guisante lágrima – the tear-shaped pea, called also plant caviar.

The tear-shaped pea is a noble product. These tiny green drops are selected one at a time, with each pod at its peak of ripeness, harvested just before the sunset. After that they undergo an additional selection, focused on the size of each of them.

Tear-shaped peas are tiny, perfect spheres that diffuse their still ungelled sugars when they pop, retaining their essential identity, freshness, sweetness  …  their vegetal essence.

Green. Close. Ephemeral.

Josean Alija, Nerua (Bilbao, Spain)

“Lágrima” peas, grape and iced olive oil. Photo: José Luis López de Zubiria
“Lágrima” peas, grape and iced olive oil. Photo: José Luis López de Zubiria

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