At precisely 10:00 AM we knock on Carmen and Antonio’s door and then the four of us make our way to the second floor where the restaurant is located. We are seated outside and told that breakfast is a cold buffet along with eggs cooked to order with a variety of breakfast meats. We make our way inside and I, for one, am taken aback by the almost limitless choices of breads, juices, cereals, fruit, pastries, cheeses, yoghurt and cold cuts. We are well into our second plate of goodies when our eggs arrive. We are offered champagne, but we decide to pass. We thank our waitresses and we take the elevator to the third floor where the library and wine bar are located.
We take advantage of the vistas and shoot a number of photographs. We then make our way back to our rooms and pack the few remaining things in our suitcase. We head to the lobby, pay our bill and we are back in the car. We are headed to Ezcaray and we arrive in less than forty five minutes.
We now take a daytime tour of this beautiful little town. Antonio and Carmen have had a small place here for thirty five years and it appears that they must know just about everyone. As is frequently the custom, we visit three bars and in each we order a drink and a little something to snack on. At our last stop Antonio does a bit of pocket magic for the crowd that has gathered around him. I do a little something, too. A little before 3:00 we head to Echaurren where we will have our lunch.
My lunch consists of slices of morcilla that have been grilled and I follow that with some baby lamb chops. Dessert is a wonderful chocolate creation and my café cortado is the perfect finish to the meal. We are then told that Antonio has arranged for us to visit the kitchen. The kitchen actually services two restaurants, Echaurren and its sister restaurant, El Portal, which exists side by side separated by the kitchen. El Portal is a restaurant that offers a variety of tasting menus, each one more spectacular than the last. It is this restaurant and its cuisine that has earned Francis a Michelin star.
There are three stations in the kitchen. The first is dedicated to the preparation of what I would call more traditional Spanish cuisine. The second station is where the dishes with a more modern touch are prepared. The French adjective nouvelle would be appropriate to describe the food prepared at this station. Lastly there is the pastry station. It services both restaurants. As we finish our tour, Susan is given the menu for El Portal as a souvenir. We then make our way to the car and begin our journey back to Madrid. We are leaving at 5:30 PM and that guarantees that our entrance back into the city will be slow with an abundance of traffic jams. We are not disappointed. Antonio drops us off at the hotel and after unpacking the one suitcase we took with us; we settle down with our Kindles for a bit and then call it a day.