Sumendi #2 • Árstíðaskipti
In this edition we personally selected all the wines. Although our initial intention was to provide basques wines (hence the Fortius) we were unable to find the ones we wanted on time, so we went with a pair of wines from Catalonia, another great wine region.
Ramon Roqueta Reserva
Tempranillo + Cabernet Sauvignon
Another small producer very much in touch with its origins and its region, the Bages. The Roqueta family has been dedicated to both viticulture and viniculture since 1898. This red wine's ripe fruit aromas with balsamic touches really stand out.
A new player installed in Navarra has been creating great new wines for the last years. This young Fortius is a great example, it has fruity aromas and a smooth mouth, generating a very fresh, pleasant, easy to drink feeling.
For this edition we've stolen and minimally adapted a few great recipes from some of our heroes. They are the perfect example of how to update a traditional recipe and make it modern.
Melon con Jamón
This is a summer classic, elegantly reinvented by Diego Guerrero, one of our favourite chefs.
Although many restaurants think it's somehow démodé, it was a staple in summer menus for decades and Diego's version puts it in the 21st century. Definitely a Summer Flavour™.
Soil Tea Ceremony
We probably were not able to capture the delicacy of Eneko Atxa's original creation with our humble version but to us there is nothing that says more clearly Autumn than mushrooms.
Our small wink to the cold, dark, damp forest of the Basque Country.
Inspiration for Sumendi #2: Transition
The weather in Iceland is not as bad as most people think –actually it's far better than other allegedly greener pastures– but it's true that the year only counts with two seasons: Winter and Summer.
And that has been the main inspiration for our menu. We'll be swinging back and forth between the two seasons… saying goodbye to the heavy, rich courses of the winter and greeting the refreshing, colorful plates of summer.
Icelandic –as basque– is a language where word-building has been used intensively with beautiful and poetic results. Not surprisingly it is full of amazing words and between them, the perfect one for this edition: Árstíðaskipti literally meaning "change of seasons".
Following the spirit of transformation on which this edition was based we presented a second act where we went again from the cozyness of winter stews to the freshness of fruity gazpachos.
Bye, Winter, Bye
Oxtail ravioli, its own jus & raddish sprouts
Another recipe stolen from Eneko Atxa, IMHO, the best young chef in the Basque Country right now.
The only change we did here is to replace the thin cornbread slices used in the original recipe for Wonton pasta, easier to find here in Iceland, hopefully conserving the crunchy feeling. Oxtail is one of this incredibly good but under-used meat that we connect with the rich, delicious stews of the basque winter.
Is It You, Summer?
Strawberry Gazpacho, Homemade Basil Oil & Pistachio
We did our own basil oil at home, include the strawberries to soften and enrich the flavour of the gazpacho and put some toasted pistachios to add the crunchy and salted component to the course.
Begihaundi Stew in Blank Ink, Caramelized Onion Pureé & Onion Wafer
Call us during lunch on a sunny summer's sunday and there are very high probabilities we'll be eating squid in one way or another. The txipiron or just "txipi" is constantly used in basque cuisine, specially in the summer. Begihaundi means "big eye" in basque and makes reference to one the most obvious features of this subspecies.
First service (13:00)
This time we decided to do only two services. The reason is that in the previous edition we were forced to basically "kick out" the 6pm service to start preparing and setting the table the 9pm service.
Luckily there were a lot of friends in that service that were very understanding with the situation, but it was definitely not the kind of thing we wanted to repeat.
Bego was in charge of the dining room during the whole day and as she was introducing and explaining each one of the plates and their history, she found time to answer the general questions that our guests had about our the basque culture.
We were very lucky again, and we had incredibly nice guests again. Luciano and Xavier are becoming regulars of Sumendi (something we are really grateful for) and we added three new amazing friends: Gerður, Sígriður and Svanhildur.
Another detail that is becoming a tradition at Sumendi is the service's timelapse. We set up a camera recording pictures every few seconds, generating in the end a timelapse like the one you can see next to this paragraph: a four minutes fast summary of what is to eat at Sumendi.
At this point of the menu we're ready for hitting some stronger flavours and textures: the terse bite offered by the monkfish, and the bold, lusty strength of the pork belly.
The Monk & The Fish
Monkfish is one of our favourite fishes and the salsa verde is one of the three sauces (with bizkaina and pilpil) most commonly used in the Basque Country.
For this über-green version we used spinachs instead of the traditional parsley that –we think– gives the sauce a very interesting flavour deepness. Getting the monkfish was not easy: it's not usually (ever?) for sale on supermarkets in Iceland but we secured enough kgs through our fish provider Fiskikongurinn.
The Pork, The Hen & The Tree
This warm, humble, square looking course was actually the one that takes longer to do. The pork belly was soaked on brine for 48 hours, then cooked sous-vide for another 36 hours and finally pan seared à la minute to get some maillard magic.
We wanted this course to ooze decadence so we added a good quality egg –sous-vide cooked too– to the mix and a thin apple+pineapple purée, since its acidity enlivens pork's lean texture.
Second service (21:00)
As a consequence of limiting the guests to just two services we think the 9pm service was much smoother and just better than in the previous edition.
Again a great mix of new and repeating customers. The amazings David and Arna honoured us with their presence, as icelandic friends as Trausti did, but we were lucky enough have new awesome guests coming from all parts of the planet: Canada, Portugal, Sweden, Thailand, USA, Ukraine….
One of the things we learnt reading A Day at elBulli is that Ferran Adrià will always destinate 50% of the total available number of seats for a season to new customers, (leaving the other 50% for repeating customers). Now we understand why… it really opens up the experience for everybody.
This time we think the flow of the long menu was much better in this service. Actually, we were able to go to the dining room for finishing both desserts in front of our guests and had the satisfaction of seeing them enjoying these two final courses.
Another up-and-coming tradition is the final off-the-menu shot of Patxaran we offer to our guests. This time the announcement of what we think is the best Patxaran in the world –Baines– was received by a tremendous cheer! If getting some people converted into patxaran fans were the only thing to come out of Sumendi, we'll be perfectly happy.
We couldn't be more happy with the service and the whole edition!
We wanted to close the experience with a pair of desserts that, as the rest of the menu, played with the idea of winter and summe, warm cozyness and fresh happyness, darkness and brightness.
This course was created after working with many combinations of small components. Many of them seemed to work individually but not together.
In the end we found the right mix: some edible sweet soil, mango foam, a Raspberry jelly sweet and Rhubarb (Rabarbara in icelandic) infused gin granita.
We knew from the beginning that truffles would be our winter dessert. They scream cold nights, brandy and lust… very much like the perfect winter's night.
Traditional and pop-corn toppings were decided initially and then a few days before the edition, Bego came up with the brilliant idea of curry for the last truffle. And bingo… it worked great.