Casa Garras, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country

Town Hall, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

Some time ago, I visited Casa Garras to have lunch. It is located some 60 km southwest of Bilbao, and more than half of the route is twisty, narrow, and requires extra care. The low clouds and mist did not make the route easier. After such a challenging drive, I was wondering whether the place was worth it.

Facade, Casa Garras,, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

The entrance leads you to the bar, where you can have a drink and some pintxos (tapas in the Basque language). The restaurant is on the first floor. I arrived early, at 1345 hrs – by local standards – and had the opportunity to observe the customers settling in. I think I was the only foreigner in the restaurant. In addition to the families and couples, there were large groups of friends, mostly men, getting together to enjoy lunch. By 1500 hrs – the time locals usually have lunch on a Saturday – the place was packed solid.

Dining Hall. Casa Garras,, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

The chef  of the restaurant is Txema Llamosas, whose parents owned Casa Garras,  has worked with some of the holy monsters of Basque and Catalan cuisine:  Eneko Atxa (Azurmendi), Juan Maaari Arzak (Arzak), and Ferran Adria (elBulli), and returned to his parents’ restaurant in 2010. With his inspiration and the support of his wife Pilar, who is the somelier of the restaurant, Txema has managed to establish Casa Garras as a gastronomic jewel in the Valley of Carranza, one of the nicest and mostly unknown area of Vizkaya in the Basque Country.

Txema Llamosas, Casa Garras, Vizkaya. Photo: Casa Garras

I tasted the gastronomic menu on offer. and took a bottle of the locally produced txakoli wine (txakolina).

Petite, Txakolina, Casa Garras,, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

The somelier recommended Casa Garras’s brand “Petite”, and I obliged.

Ox capuccino, Casa Garras,, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

This foamy, hot, tasty broth made from ox’s tail started the meal.  Its depth is unforgettable.

Queso a partir de queso Idiazabal con brioche de mantequilla, Casa Garras,, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

Soft cheese made from locally produced Idiazabal cheese, served with a butter brioche.

Marinated horse mackerel on white garlic soup with trout pearls, Casa Garras,, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

Extremely smooth and tasty! And it looked good too!

Atún rojo marinado sobre su emulsión, salsa ponzu, algas wakame y perlas de wasabi, Casa Garras,, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

Marinated red tuna in its emulsion, ponzu soup, wakame seaweed and pearls of wasabi. The visible fusion of Basque cuisine with Japanese flavors.

Gambas de Huelva sobre pieles de bacalao y mayonesa de sus corales, Casa Garras,, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

White shrimp from Huelva on cod skin and mayonaise made from the stock of their heads and shells.

The shrimp comes from Huelva, a city in the southern region of Andalucia.

Morrillo de atún sobre mousse de aguacate, cebolla morada de Zalla, pieles de cerdo y jugo
de pimiento, Casa Garras,, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

Glazed red tuna neck, avocado mousse, pickled purple onion and morcels of fried pigskin. I do not remember the sauce’s name, but it was delicious.

Cocochas de merluza con pilpil de aceite ecologico y sus espinas, Casa Garras,, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

Hake double chins cooked the pil pil way, with organic olive oil.

I absolutely love “kokotxas” (the double chin of the fish) and I can only find them in Spain and the Basque country!

Chipirón relleno del guiso de sus garras y cremoso de tinta, Casa Garras,, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

Stuffed squid, fried legs, and sauce made from its ink. The squid is stuffed with finely chopped legs.

Yema de huevo de caserío con crema carbonara, papada y ralladura de queso Idiazabal de
Karrantza, Casa Garras,, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

Egg yolk on carbonara cream, cured pig’s jowl and idiazabal cheese crisp.

Merluza a la plancha  y emulsión de coliflor, Casa Garras,, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

Grilled hake on a cauliflower emulsion.

Láminas de chuleta de vaca pinta de Karrantza, Casa Garras,, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country. Photo: Nikos Moropoulo

Rib steak of Karrantza beef, served with morcels of its fat.

This is one of the best steaks I have ever eaten! It melts in your mouth, and it unbelievably tasty!

Panacotta de vainilla con dulce de leche casero, nueces garrapiñadas, crujiente de chocolate blanco y maíz, con cremoso de queso y pompas de nata, Casa Garras,, Valle de Carranza, Vizkaya, Basque Country. Photo: Nikos Moropoulos

The desert was based on panacotta, and it was nice, but nothing compared to the avoury dishes. It is clear that Chef Llamosas prefers savoury!