Our table was marked with these outrageously long utensils when we sat. Fortunately, they replaced them with something more practical when the first course arrived. Although it may have been fun to try them out. I suppose they were just to get us into that "Alice in Wonderland" state of mind. Believe me, we were there.
The first two amuse bouches were a duo of soup. The left most shooter contained a black bean soup with green apple, and the right had a corn soup with freeze dried fig and black pudding or blood sausage. All very traditional Basque ingredients - both were delicious. Simple and well balanced.
These two bites were eaten with the fingers alone (first dragged through the chili sauce of course). Your teeth first crunched down through a crust of puffed yellow rice before finding a rich mushroom mousse inside.
A creamy oyster sauce oozes from the potato.
This was our final savory course of venison tenderloin and marigold stucco (a dried sheet of seasoned marigold puree). Again, the chefs use the reference of a completely non edible item to get their point across. The venison couldn't have been more tender, and unlike a lot of the deer I've had, it was very moist. Another surprisingly simple dish wins again!
Here's a video of the server preparing a sauce for the next dessert. One liquid was mead (or honey wine), the other water. The strange effect that resulted only occurred because one was hot, the other cold. Check it out...
is "a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is a reduced-size copy of the whole." Which is exactly what this is. It looks as though some kind of mythical creature zapped the rock with lightening and split it in two. The resulting "fractal fluid" leaked forth (it was drizzled between the two pieces from the server's spoon). The fractal itself was a sugary crust of carrot that contained a soft lemon jelly. Some simple cookie crumbs helped to mop up all the fractal goodness.
A final message: Ferreteria - which means "Hardware" in Spanish.
Final thoughts about the meal... 100% honesty here - I did not know what everything I ate was, I didn't not understand all of the ingredients, cooking techniques, nor thought process behind them. That rarely happens. But I left filled with a sort of joy and whimsical happiness that no steak and mashed potatoes could account for. The meal was well thought out, beautiful, and most of all delicious. Sometimes I wasn't even sure why it tasted so good. On my way out of the restaurant my brain fought for ways to make sense of it all. It needed to make some kind of comparison to help it to make sense. I immediately thought of a symphony performance. You sit and listen and leave the theatre fulfilled and satisfied. You leave HAPPY. Did you know each note the oboe player was playing? No. Do you fully understand how the drummer keeps two different rhythms going at the same time? Nope. But it doesn't matter. In the end, the feelings that the performance have set upon you are much memorable and long lasting than any understanding of the technical aspects. This, in a nutshell, is a dinner at Arzak.
All I know is that I left happy. Oh so happy.