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Boundary-pushing dishes and design in the Basque country

It’s impossible to discuss Azurmendi without mentioning the ultrasound. Employed to alter the texture of food, this is just one of the cutting-edge techniques that chef Eneko Atxa has pioneered since his first restaurant opened in 2005. And it’s far more than a mere headline grabber.

Indeed, the Basque native’s philosophy has always been about pushing boundaries. Truffled egg, for example, is ‘cooked inside out’, part of the yolk removed and replaced with truffle consommé. Other standouts on a tasting menu that typically runs to some 12 dishes include noodles made from finely cut squid sitting in an intense onion reduction and garnished with flying fish roe and a squid ink choux pastry.

An inveterate globetrotter, Atxa opened an outpost in Phuket, Thailand, in 2013, but he’s most at home in the region where he first began cooking professionally at the age of 15. And his desire to push the envelope stretches far beyond the menu too.

Perched on a hillside 9km from Bilbao, the steel-and-glass structure of Azurmendi is itself a model in forward-thinking sustainability where the eco-friendly function – it recycles its own waste, harvests rainfall, and heats and cools itself using geothermal energy – complements the obvious form factor.

On the pass

  • Eneko Atxa

Pastry chef

  • Ana Cortes

Style of food

  • Cutting-edge Basque

Standout dish

  • Tomato and eel