Echaurren in Rioja
Echaurren’s head chef Francis Paniego is famous for his revolutionary & experimental take on local traditional cuisine.Portal del Echaurren restaurant boasts the first Michelin star of the Rioja region. Highlight of the spectacular meal was his use of smoke aromas to enhance flavours.
Echaurren Menu: Exploring the valley
This Echaurren menu Exploring the Valley is inspired by the sensations produced by the ten kilometers of nature that surround us and everything we’ve experienced in Ezcaray. Wed like to pay tribute to this privileged place that welcomes us with its landscapes, products, artisans and people. We try to transmit everything this land offers through cuisine. We’ve decided to keep the menu we served last year, because we want to focus on a different project, which may not be suitable for everyone; the 2014 menu based on tripe and offal.
VINE SHOOTS. During the months of January and February the pruning of vines takes place in La Rioja. The branches of the vine shoots are kept to create the typical sheaves used to make the traditional chops grilled in vine shoots during the summer. Others are burnt in fires to make vegetable coal. We wanted to recreate this idea with this aperitif; it actually consists of cheesy breadsticks.
CROQUETTES, which we stole from my Mum. Our mother’s croquettes need no introduction and are the best aperitif we could offer. Our mothers cooking is based on simplicity, elegance and flavour, qualities we also want to make our own.
SMOKED BREAD, ash and a piece of Tondeluna. Goat’s cheese butter; Maria and Goyo, the artisans who make Tondeluna cheese, bring it every week. For this menu we asked them to make goat’s cheese butter and this is the result; we serve it with grilled toast and grated truffle.
FRESH HERBS, or eating a mountain meadow. At the bottom is a sheep’s cheese cream, on the top is frozen foic-gras powder, dressed in the same way as steak tar-tare, powder of fresh herbs and smoked sheep’s cheese foam around the outside. A breath of fresh air from a high mountain meadow. WOOL, a small tribute to the textile tradition of Ezcaray Bordelaise style lamb sweetbreads with sautéed green asparagus tips, fried artichokes and a sweet touch of candy floss on chive mash.
THE FRESH WATER FISH, that dreamed of the sea. 1.5kg trout raised in captivity, but fed naturally, which is why they lack the typical salmon colour of farmed trout. We clean the fillets well and cure them for two hours in salt and sugar in a ratio of 80 to 20%; we season them with bolete mushrooms, rocket, seaweed, wakame seaweed and serrano ham, served with avocado mayonnaise and fresh yogurt, cucumber and mint soup.
UNDER A BLANKET OF DRY LEAVES, recreating a walk through a beech forest. Sautéed seasonal mushrooms, a sphere of chestnut soup, truffle, and a blanket of dry leaves, made of beetroot, cabbage, Pumpkin, broccoli; rose petals and lollo rosso lettuce, cooked in the traditional way and then dehydrated. Representing a stroll through an Ezcaray beech forest.
THE SEEDS, Crayfish, avocado, cherry, quinoa and ajo blanco Wedges of cherry, avocado and pieces of crayfish around the edge of a quinoa centre thickened with reduced crayfish juice and covered with ajo blanco and a few drops of extra virgin olive oil. Reminiscent of a seafood stew on the palate.
GARLIC PRAWNS with an optical illusion. Red prawns cooked in garlic and garnished with an imitation garlic clove, made from the juice of the heads of the prawns. The clove melts on contact with the heat of the garlic prawns, giving them all the flavour of the heads.
SEA FOSSILS, Barnacles, cockles, rock mussels, scallops and periwinkles, vacuum cooked so they keep their juices. We serve them with the sour and blue potato varieties, both preserved in olive oil and lime, parsley sauce and seaweed. On top of all this, we can see the raison d’être of this dish; edible fossils, made from seaweed and seafood broth. In Ezcaray, it’s very common to find small gastropod fossils in some areas of the nearby mountains. We used this fact as an excuse and found inspiration in the land to create a cuisine we call “from the land, minus the soil”.
ROAST HAKE, on garlic potato mash with a slight touch of vanilla. Line-caught hake roasted at 120 for 5 minutes, on potato mash, thickened pil pil style with Extra Virgin olive oil, garlic and a hint of vanilla. Hake is revered in this establishment and we just had to include it on this menu.
GRILLED LAMB CHOPS?
On a lamb juice base, some pieces of pepper charcoal, garlic mayonnaise and lamb chops smoked in vine shoots. A tribute to one of the most traditional dishes of our region; lamb chops cooked in vine shoots.
“GYOZA” SNOUT, and squid noodles. To finish off a traditional stew; these are not just any snouts but exclusively pig snouts. Cooked like tripe, but without tomato, or anything to make them spicy, so they’re not too strong. We mix them with pear candied in white wine and lime sauce and serve them in the form of gyoza.
GRAPES UNDER ICE, A fresher first dessert. Fresh grapes lightly cooked in red wine, with a technique called impregnation and which enables the grapes to be impregnated with the flavour of the wine while maintaining their structure as fresh fruit. Finished off with wine and red berries ice cream, all under a fake layer of ice.