Restaurant Boroa Jaretxea, Bizkaia, Basque Country


Today I want to share my dining experience in “Restaurante Boroa Jaretxea“.

Boroa Jaretzea
Boroa Jaretzea

It is located in a renovated farmhouse 20 km east of Bilbao, near the highway connecting it to San Sebastian.

It was a sunny Saturday and the place was packed.

I had two options. The first was to take the gastronomic menu. The second was to go for pleasure maximization.

The gastronomic menu is a journey of discovery.But when you are in a big restaurant which is packed with people wishing to enjoy their Saturday lunch, I thought that it would be rather difficult for the chef’s brigade to deliver. I had no doubt that the menu was good, but there was the question of execution under extreme conditions,

Boroa Jaretxea
Boroa Jaretxea

Pleasure maximization on the other hand is a tricky approach. It presumes that you have already stored in your human system some experiences of intense pleasure, and seeks to attain similar levels of pleasure by reliving or approximating these experiences.

In any case, I opted for pleasure maximization. A few words regarding the topology of pleasure are in order. Imagine the pleasure domain as a terrain with valleys and peaks. Within a radius of a point there may be one or more peaks. The peaks I chose are two, hoping that a third one is also nearby.

Here are the results.

"Kokotxas de merluza al pilpil con almejas de cuchillo" hake kokotxas with clams.
“Kokotxas de merluza al pilpil con almejas de cuchillo” hake kokotxas with clams.

The first peak of pleasure maximization is kokotxas, delicious parcels of meat full of gelatin, extracted from the chin of the fish. I got to know kokotxas in 2003 in the Basque country, and ever since I suffer from “kokotxas deprivation” syndrome.. So any chance to enjoy a good kokotxas dish is precious.

Kokotxas - detail
Kokotxas – detail

The dish in Boroa was “Kokotxas de merluza al pilpil con almejas de cuchillo”. This is translated into “Hake kokotxas with clams.” Absolutely delicious! I could eat three more without any complaint! But I resisted the temptation so that I could move to the second peak of pleasure maximization.

Tuna Fillet

The second peak of pleasure maximization was tuna. I love tuna, especially the belly. Boroa could serve me a juicy fillet steak “taco de atun”, and I could not resist.  The fish comes daily from Cadiz in the Mediterranean, and it is fished with the Almadraba method. Tuna’s meat is red because its blood does not run through veins, but through tissue. The steak must be juicy and medium – rare. If you cook it even slightly more, the incredible flavor and texture is destroyed.

Tuna fillet
Tuna fillet

Tuna was a very popular fish in ancient Greece. Athinaeos wrote about culture and dining in the Greco-Roman world of the 3rd century AD. His masterpiece is considered to be the first cookbook, but it is a lot more. He writes:

“(The fish) was named ‘thunnos’ (θύννος) because of its darting movement.” The name ‘thunnos’ comes form the verb ‘thyno’ which means to rush, to move quickly. (Athinaeos, Deipnosophistae, 302b, Vol. 7)

Zucchini fritters
Zucchini fritters  tempura

The tuna steak was served with zucchini tempura fritters and soy sauce. Do I see a Japanese streak here, or am I just dreaming? Japan in the Basque Country!

Carranzana and Idiazabal Cheese
Carranzana and Idiazabal Cheese

The third peak of pleasure maximization was cheese. The Basque country is full of goats, lamb, cows, and they produce delicious cheese. So I aksed the maître d‘ to taste some local cheeses. He brought me two: Idiazabal and Carranzana. Absolutely delicious!

I accompanied the mal with the local wine, txakoli, produced a few kilometers away. Low acidity, fruity taste, bright light color, make this wine perfect for fish and seafood. Surprisingly, it went very well with the mighty cheeses!

All in all a wonderful experience, and I am glad to say that in the occasion the pleasure maximization approach worked well.


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