With a focus on simple, authentic Spanish cuisine, Chef José Pizarro has been at the forefront of bringing both traditional and innovative tapas to London. With three successful restaurants across the city, author of several Spanish cookbooks, and a regular on morning television shows, his career has taken him a long way from his farming background in Extremadura. Today, we’re honored to have Chef Jose sharing his gastronomic passion with Catavino. (Photos by José Pizarro Restaurants)
I love the region from which I was born, but there’s just something about the Basque Country that calls me back over and over again. The people, the food and the region are spectacular, unique and feels like a second home. In the Basque Country, food is the most important thing. It’s sharing big plates of food around the table, it’s celebrating happy occasions, it’s a way of life. As much as I love visiting my friends in their Michelin starred kitchens, where I’m always bowled over by their creativity, what I love is simple food, good ingredients sourced locally wherever possible, cooked with little fuss. In my cookbook, I’ve tried my best to not only convey the heartwarming stories that has tied me to the region, but have added my own personal twist to dishes that are uniquely Basque. But don’t rely on my cookbook alone, visit and see for yourself why this region takes very little time to fall in love.
Fun, joyful, warm and passionate. The Spanish love to express, to feel to share their creativity and ideas with the world! They are the first to invite you for a glass of wine, a family feast or bed to rest for the night. From impromptu music
street-side to all night tapas crawls, the Spanish know how to socialize, celebrate and eat!
Between Bilbao and San Sebastian is the pretty seaside town of Getaria, where you’ll find some of the finest seafood restaurants in the world, including Elkano. For “big game seafood” head to D’Berto in Galicia, renowned for their king crabs, lobsters, groupers and turbot – all simply prepared but excellently cooked. In Sanlucar de Barrameda, the colorful and informal restaurant Casa Bigote serves fried acedias (a type of small sole) and langostinos – among many other unforgettable dishes, which are sourced from local waters. Finally, while you’re in the south, head to Cáceres where you can dine at Atrio – Amazing Michelin Star Restaurant.
Spain is so much more than Tortilla Española (Spanish Egg and Potato Omelette) and Paella de Marisco (Seafood Paella)! It’s Morcilla de Guadalupe (Black Pudding from Guadalupe), Cocido Madrileño (meat and chickpea-based stew from Madrid), Langostines (king prawns from Sanlucar de Barrameda, Torta del Casar cheese from Extremadura, Fabada Asturiana (Beans stew from Asturias). I would also suggest the various chiringuitos scattered along the seaside. When good, they’re amazing!
Talk to people! Anywhere and with anyone, just speak with them. Say hello, ask where to eat, strike up a conversation and engage. Don’t rely solely on books or websites. Or, if you so desire, contact me! I’d love to give you my favorite places to eat, drink and play.
Absolutely! In March, I’ll be in my Basque Country preparing some innovative miniature tapas at the Congress of Miniature in Vitoria-Gazteiz. If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you! Additionally in March, come experience Gastronomic Extremadura week in London when all my restaurants will offer menus and tapas that pay homage to my home region.
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