BILBAO, CULTURE THAT FEEDS
Does art have a flavour? In Bilbao, works of art and cuisine share the same house, maybe because they are both art. Painting and food. The first is presented in halls and the second is served in the cafeteria of the same museum.
The Guggenheim asks on its web site what art tastes of. There are two answers. On the one hand they say that art tastes of crab, good cod, tuna belly or Bresse pigeon. These are some of the dishes served in the Nerua restaurant run by Josean Martínez Alija, which has been given a Michelin star.
On the other hand, they say that at summer lunches and dinners art has a more informal flavour, though also one of haute cuisine, at the Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao.
Let’s talk about a second place. The Museum of Fine Arts has a place in the artistic complex for slow food cooking. The restaurant is called Arbola-Gaña and its cook is Aitor Basabe. On the menu there are line caught fish, wild mushrooms picked by the cook himself and there is also a seasonal game.
Let’s mention a third. In the Alhóndiga building we find a space for the cookers. Its name is Yandiola and it was designed by the architect and interior designer Philippe Starck. The people who run it said that special care was taken in building the cellar in homage to the building’s past, a former wine store.
There are also another two spaces in the Alhóndiga which are devoted to gastronomy. One is the Hola Bar, a place to try wine and have traditional ‘pintxos’ (a small portion of food served on a slice of bread), and the other is La Florinda, a fusion cuisine restaurant which also has a take-away service.
And a fourth: the Epelde & Mardaras Art Gallery. This is a contemporary art gallery floor located in a 19th-century palace in the heart of Bilbao’s ancient quarter. The floors are the originals and frescoes are still hung on the walls, engraved woodwork and large rooms with chimney breasts that have been turned into exhibition halls.
Lunch or dinner is served at the end of the current exhibition. The food is cooked by the owner, Emilia Epelde, and as it is her house (the family live in a part of the dependencies), she decides on the menu. She only serves closed groups and to order. The only choice of dishes is whether you prefer meat (sirloin steak is King) or fish, served in a soup or as a main dish and cooked simply: line caught hake, fresh cod in Biscay sauce, etc.
©FMGBGuggenheim Bilbao Museoa, 2011. Photo: Erika Barahona-Ede
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