Two friends, Oscar Limiñana and Peio Abeberry, cooked up the idea of bringing together 7 chefs and 1 pastry chef from different provinces of the Basque Country for a very special Basque cooking event, Poteo.
First of it’s kind in Biarritz, Poteo was born out of mutual love of gastronomy from the foodie duo, Oscar Limiñana and Peio Abeberry. Oscar, a truffle artisan at the Biarritz local market and Peio, co-owner of Bom Bom, a little restaurant specializing in Portuguese chicken as well as the co-manager of Fronton Plaza Berri, a court sport for Basque pelota. And so it was that Poteo was to be hosted in the historical pelota courts of Fronton Plaza Berri.
Poteo is a Basque custom of friends getting together for a couple of drinks from one bar to the next. This Basque term was named after potes, the heavy wine glasses that were used. Coincidentally, in French the word potes means friends. Gather your potes and let’s get down to Poteo business. ????
I had readily marked my calendar — JUNE 10th. I bought dem tickets for 30 euros a pop; tick tock, my pinchables were getting impatient. Finally, the day came and I hauled my sister-in-law to Plaza Berri for a day of glorious pintxos eating!
At the door, we were given our tickets and cutlery. Each chef had their own cooking stand, 4 stands on opposite sides of the court room. Us foodie folk were to line up with our tickets and each pintxo could be claimed upon getting your ticket punched. Luckily, we had arrived early; as the day progressed, the crowds got bigger and the scene got pretty hectic!
POTEO Chef 1: Andrée Rosier
The chefs began setting up shop at 11am and by the time noon had rolled in, it was pintxos time! We decided to start at Chef Andrée Rosier’s stand whereby her star ingredient was the ‘l’asperge de Navarre’, asparagus from Navarre, Spain. Served in a glass, was a melange of finely grated vegetables ranging from asparagus, carrots, radishes, etc, plus a good few chunks of Ibaïama pork. She topped off each glass with toasted bread crumbs, corn and a wonderful sauce combo of vinaigrette and soya sauce. Sounds so simple yet the flavours came together so vibrantly! Hands down, this was my favourite pintxo. Andrée Rosier and her husband run Les Rosiers, here in Biarritz and it’s been a Michelin star-rated restaurant ever since 2009. She also happens to be the first female to be granted the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) title in the Cooking & Restaurant category — woo! After tasting her sublime asparagus pintxo, there is no doubt that I’ll be checking out Les Rosiers sometime in the future.
POTEO Chef 2: Enrique Fleischmann
Next stop, we headed to Chef Enrique Fleischmann’s stand. A Mexican chef based in Getaria, Spain, he has apprenticed with a good number of esteemed chefs such as Juan Mari Arzak from San Sebastian and the one and only, Paul Bocuse. In addition, he is also the head chef at the restaurant Txoko in Getaria and Bailara Restaurant from Hotel Iriarte Jauregia in Bidania, Spain. Chef Enrique Fleischmann and his team served up ‘bonite de Saint-Jean-de-Luz’, bonito fish from Saint-Jean-de-Luz, drizzled with green and red pepper sauces, Espelette spices with a potato slice that was cooked in a fish and tomato based sauce. I really enjoyed the play on the Basque piperrada sauce; the sweetness of both the green and red pepper sauces complemented the bonito fish just perfectly.
POTEO Chef 3: Juan Carlos Ferrando
Way before the throngs of hungry foodies arrived, you could see that Chef Juan Carlos Ferrando and his team had their game faces on. Steaming away corn tortillas, preparing the accompanying condiments, huge bowls of jalapeños and lime wedges; boy, it was a beautiful sight. Hailing from Río de la Plata, Argentina, Chef Juan Carlos Ferrando moved to the Spanish wine region of La Rioja to further his mastery as a chef. For the past 4 years, he has been heading the kitchen at Hotel Viura in the Rioja wine village, Villabuena. He’s known for his love of infusing elements from South America with his Basque dishes. And on that day, Chef Juan Carlos Ferrando prepared lamb from the Pyrénées Axuria to go hand in hand with his homemade corn tortillas. My sister-in-law and I agreed that we could of gorged on a tonne of these bad boys! Almost perfect, it slightly lacked in salt. The lamb meat was tender and I loved how moist the corn tortillas were ????????.
POTEO Chef 4: Lionel Elissalde
Full of smiles with a patient team to boot, we had Chef Lionel Elissalde serving up piment de Gernika from Biscay, Bilbao. A Bayonnais that runs the popular local joint, Chez Martin, in the heart of Bayonne, he had previously worked at the Saint Amour restaurant in Biarritz for more than a decade before it closed. Along side the Gernika pepper, we were served a ‘tartare de veau avec crabes, crème piquillos avec sel de marin et sarrasin’, a veal tartar with crab, piquillo pepper whipped cream and toasted buckwheat. I wasn’t a big fan of the piquillo pepper whipped cream but I LOVED the toasted buckwheat. The toasted buckwheat added an unexpected crunch to the otherwise liquidy pintxo dish. Kudos to the sous chef that took the time to answer all my questions despite the long queue awaiting!
POTEO Chef 5: Fabrice Idiart
Before the pintxos assembly line began at Poteo, I had made the rounds to observe and snap a couple of behind-the-scenes shots. When I saw that Chef Fabrice Idiart’s main ingredient was Idiazabal cheese from Gipuzkoa, my pinchables started tingling with all sorts of excitement! The first time I discovered Idiazabal cheese was in the form of a regal risotto at Borda Berri, San Sebastian and it was to-die-for. Idiazabal cheese is produced in the northern regions of Spain, from the raw milk of Latxa or Carranza sheep. It tastes pleasantly smokey and buttery — oh. so. buttery! We were spoilt with grilled Idiazabal cheese, seaweed mousse (Say what?! It was surprisingly good!) and shaved truffles from the local truffle house, Maison Balme. Twas nutty, cheesy goodness! Chef Fabrice Idiart apprenticed at the Michelin star rated restaurant, Michel Sarran in Toulouse before being offered to head chef, ILURA at the 4-star hotel, La Réserve in Saint-Jean-de-Luz at the young age of 25. Props!
POTEO Chef 6: Fernando González
Chef Fernando González is a Bilbao native and runs the pintxo bar, Kokken, in his hometown. Inspired by work experience in Scandinavia, Kokken came to fruition as a place to experience gastronomy, art and design all at once. His main ingredient for his pintxo dish was the ‘pomme de terre de Gorbea’, Gorbea potatoes from the Alava province in Spain. Gorbea potatoes are known to be highly prized in the culinary industry due to its exceptional flavour and limited production. Chef Fernando González and his team prepared the Gorbea potatoes with sautéed cuttlefish and seaweed. I wish I could say the Gorbea potatoes knocked my socks off but they didn’t; the cuttlefish also lacked in flavour. This would of been my least favourite pintxo dish. But that’s not to say I wouldn’t check out Kokken if I was ever in Bilbao, their TripAdvisor reviews look promising!
POTEO Chef 7: Sébastian Gravé
Next up, Chef Sébastian Gravé! The culinary genius behind La Table de Pottoka in Bayonne and his Parisian restaurant, Pottoka; he apprenticed under the Michelin star rated chef, Patrice Dumangel of Hotel Miramar in Biarritz and has worked for a good handful of Michelin starred restaurants in Paris as well. Notoriously known for paying homage to his Basque roots through his careful selection of produce for both his restaurants, I had some pretty high expectations for this particular stand. What we had in store for us was the mulard duck from the Geroa Ekgarrekin farm in Irrissary, France. Topped with a red fruit vinaigrette, there were cheeky pieces of octopus that went splendidly with the duck. Almost too well, seeing as my sister-in-law whom dislikes seafood happily finished her pintxo dish without realizing it was octopus ???? The fruit vinaigrette was delicious and refreshing, cutting through the fattiness of the duck like a charm. I’d give it a 10/10 for flavour; my seul bemol was that my duck was a little on the dry side.
POTEO Chef 8: Maitena Erguy
And of course, there must always be room for d-e-s-s-e-r-t! Maitena Erguy is the pastry chef behind Mokofin, which is Basque for gourmet or picky eater. After spending a good decade in Paris honing her pastry skills with reputable pastry chefs, she returned home to Bayonne to launch her own pastry shop, Mokofin, with her sister, Joëlle Erguy. Today, Mokofin is not only a pastry shop but also welcomes dessert lovers to their tea salon and provides catering services. Now let’s get on to the fun stuff! A heavenly sight of ‘rhubarbe et fraise craquant avec ganache de chocolat blanc, petal bégonia sucré, craquant de fraise et zeste de citron vert,’ a macaron/meringue base of rhubarb and strawberries topped with a white chocolate ganache, sweetened Begonia flower petals, strawberry crunchy bits and lime zest. Holy fook, it was magic from the very first bite!!! The base was not exactly meringue-ish, yet had an almost macaron like texture but crunchier; the strawberry and rhubarb base was diiiiiviiiiiiine ???????? And then you add in a lush ganache of white chocolate and lime zest to the mix?! Dessert-gasm happening in mah belly ????????????✨???? Maitena Erguy, you slayyyyy!
That wraps up my Poteo experience for this year. Round 2 of Poteo is to be expected in 2018. Keep your eyes and ears open cos you’ll want to attend it next year ????????
May The Pinchables Be With You,
Location: Fronton Plaza Berri, 42 avenue Foch, Biarritz 64200, France.