Landmarks, Legends and the Lap of Luxury
In this first of two programs dedicated to the Basque Country, Gwyneth and Mario visit Bilbao (“a city in a bowl of green”) and its municipal-life-transforming Guggenheim Museum (which the incorrigible Mario calls “The Googie”) where they have a cordial and informative interview with Frank Gehry himself, who offers some fascinating insight into the construction of the building. Meanwhile Mark and Claudia are off into the green hills of Vasconia to visit Vitor, a chef specialized in grilling–especially seafood– who is such a perfectionist that he makes his own charcoal. The acid test is in the grilling and our two pilgrims are poleaxed by his shrimp, sea cucumbers (espardeñas), and caviar. Caviar grilled over charcoal? According to Bittman, who knows his fish eggs, it’s even better than fresh caviar. “Silky,” he calls it.
Next stop is the Gehry-designed hotel at the Marqués de Riscal winery where it’s harvest time. Gwyneth and Sylvia indulge themselves in spa treatments there, while our two machos steal away to lift a few cold beers and try Basque tapas (pintxos) in Bilbao bars. Mario waxes philosophical: “This is like a visit to the shrink and the chef at the same time. It takes away all pain; it’s absolutely analgesic!”
Here’s the link. Enjoy another hour of the Spanish experience.