A Cook's Tour (2002–…): Season 1, Episode 8 - San Sebastian: A Food Lover's Town - full transcript

San Sebastian, Spain: Tony explores the food-crazed Basque culture. Tony's guide, Chef Luis Irizar, takes Tony into the underworld of Basque gastronomic societies. Later, Tony explores the citys tapas bars.

Welcome to my world.

Two escargot's gotta go.

Ponte, frisee.

Two green salads.

Lamb chop, steak frite!

Shouldn't you be
doing something?

Two sole fillet
and a pepper steak!

Come on, make the dessert!

Chocolate tart, please.

ANTHONY NARRATING: As a
cook, tastes and smells

are my memories.



Now I'm in search of new ones.

So I'm leaving New
York City and hope

to have a few epiphanies
around the world.

And I'm willing to go to
some lengths to do that.

I am looking for extremes
of emotion and experience.

I'll try anything,
I'll risk everything.

I have nothing to lose.

Everybody says that
the best food in Spain

is in San Sebastian.

It's that simple.

Situated in the north of
Spain on the Bay of Biscay,

close to the border of France,
San Sebastian is food town.

There are more
chefs, more cooks,

more food crazy people per
square mile in San Sebastian



than anywhere else in
Spain, possibly the world.

But we're looking at
Basque food in particular.

The Basque are basically
people without a country.

And yet their culture seems to
be older than everybody else's.

So they take their national
status very seriously.

And they also take their
food very seriously.

There are about a gazillion
eating societies or cooking

societies and clubs, and
we're about to investigate

this sort of
netherworld of fiercely

nationalist Basque
cooking societies.

Ciao.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
My guide and mentor

in all things in San
Sebastian is Luis Irizar,

who together with his daughters,
runs the Irizar Cooking

School in the old part of town.

OK, I know this scene well.

Well, do you see what
they are doing now?

The crepes?

ANTHONY NARRATING:
As we'll learn,

Basque cuisine is its own thing.

Different from Spanish,
influenced by the French,

and rooted in
what's good locally.

Fish, sheep's milk
cheese, rare vegetables.

My chef when I was in school
used to sneak up behind me

and scream in my ear, "How do
you make cauliflower mornaise?"

And then he would
offer fake suggestions.

He'd say, "You put Bordelaise in
the cauliflower mornaise, yes?"

Yes, chef!

No!

[LAUGHING] Very well.

Now to have our dinner and
to see all of the society.

I'm looking forward to this.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Tonight Luis is taking me

to an all male
gastronomic society.

This way.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Where people cook,

talk about food, and
drink, all favorite things

to do in this part of the woods.

LUIS (OFFSCREEN): This is the
typical old part of the city.

And this is the society.

[LAUGHS]

[SPEAKING_SPANISH]

ANTHONY NARRATING: Luis
is sort of the godfather

of cooking around here.

Everybody in town
seems to know him.

Do you see?

This is the kitchen
for all the member.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
There are over 50

of these gastronomical societies
in San Sebastian, where

men, mostly amateurs, come
to share a passion for food,

particularly Basque food.

Tonight, Luis is making some
very traditional Basque dishes.

Well, the only thing
we're going to start now?

Yes?

Doing the bacalao.

The first thing,
doing the bacalao.

Bacalao.

You with me.

- All right?
- I'm there.

ANTHONY NARRATING: In
order to eat salt cod,

it has to be soaked
in ice cold water,

basically removing
a lot of the salt.

LUIS (OFFSCREEN):
[SPEAKING SPANISH]

ANTHONY NARRATING:
There's no question

about who's in charge in this
kitchen of the two of us.

Like this.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
He's the boss.

First we must to do--

ANTHONY NARRATING:
He's the senior member

of this team, longtime
member of this club.

LUIS (OFFSCREEN):
Put it in here.

ANTHONY NARRATING: He's
the man around here.

LUIS (OFFSCREEN):
You must come here.

ANTHONY NARRATING: And we're
cooking Basque food together,

so I'll be taking my
orders directly from him.

LUIS (OFFSCREEN): We
leave it in there.

A little bit there.

I got it.

So what are we doing?

We're browning garlic.

Then it's coming out.

And as I understand it,
the fish is going in.

You can put it out.

For you.

He's beating me
like a rented mule.

Since it's hot, we're going
to put the butter inside.

With the skin down first.

All right.

Is there room?

-Yeah, yeah.
It will work.

It will work.
OK?

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN): Good.

Couple of inches.

And then with the
fork we take it out.

[SIZZLING]

Turn it up.

OK, ready?

We're pouring off the olive oil.

LUIS (OFFSCREEN): Not all.

We leave it a little bit.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN): Leave
a little bit in there.

You can wait until
this one is warm.

Cider.

Let's have a drink.

Chinchin.

Chinchin!

ANTHONY NARRATING: They
drink a lot of cider.

Hard cider, meaning it
will get you buzzed.

Now this is a classic beverage
for Basque country, yes?

Cider.

Yes.

This is just apple
juice, nothing else.

Dry.

We'll leave it here.

Ah, that's good.

LUIS (OFFSCREEN):
That's cocochas.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Cocochas are the cheeks

of hake fish, a type of cod.

Dredged in flour and fried in
really good local olive oil,

this is a treasured dish
here in Basque country.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN):
Cheeks, tongues, jaws.

One of those things that
Americans miss out on.

[SIZZLING]

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN): We're
making an emulsion basically.

Using absolutely
no egg, no flour,

no binding agent other
than the gelatin which

naturally occurs in codfish.

So the olive oil
will thicken up--

Olive oil thicken.

With, with the
gelatin from the fish.

Yes.

I get it now.

This is incredible.

ANTHONY NARRATING: Into
this goes piperade,

which is basically peppers,
onions, and more peppers.

The classic Basque pepper sauce.

So finish with the sauce.

Now we keep it hot in there.

Not very hot, eh?

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN): This
is really looking good.

It's pretty, it tastes good.

All right.

Hard to beat that.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Mangosteen with serrano ham.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN): Now is
this also a traditional dish?

LUIS (OFFSCREEN):
Very traditional.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN):
Very traditional.

This is a Basque thing though.

The Spanish don't, aren't
so crazy about this.

-No!
The Spanish normally--

They don't like this, no?

They're afraid?

Well, they start now.

But afraid to eat.

Oooh!

Oooh!

It's better for us.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN):
Yeah, more for us.

[SPEAKING_SPANISH]

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Here they have

a saying that translates
roughly to "a little bit often."

I like this whole idea.

[SPEAKING_SPANISH]

ANTHONY NARRATING: I've never
seen anything like this before.

I'm getting worried.

These are seasoned professional
drinkers and eaters.

-[SPEAKING_SPANISH]
Hey, sit down.

ANTHONY NARRATING: This
is strange behavior.

But I kinda like it.

[SPEAKING_SPANISH] Cheers now.

Cheers.

Cheers.

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

[SPEAKING_SPANISH]

[SPEAKING_SPANISH]

Great food.

Nice people.

Bunch of hard drinking cookies.

Out of sight.

Let's try the bacalao now.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN):
Oh, look at that!

That's good!

LUIS (OFFSCREEN):
Oh, this you done!

With me. [LAUGHS]

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN): I'm
very proud of myself.

ANTHONY NARRATING: You
know, it's remarkable.

The stuff that was absolutely
tough as a board, dry and salty

yesterday, today
this stuff is sweet

and tastes fresh and tender.

[SINGING_IN_SPANISH]

ANTHONY NARRATING: Just when I
think things are winding down,

the boys on the other
side of the room

are just getting started.

[SINGING_IN_SPANISH]

This is a whole
new flavor, man.

[SINGING_IN_SPANISH]

They sing, they
cook, they drink.

This is an evening
out with the guys.

[LAUGHING]

[SINGING_IN_SPANISH]

[CHEERS_AND_APPLAUSE]

Unbelievable!

This place rocks!

I mean, this is my first
night in town, I saw this!

They don't act like this
in New York, man! [LAUGHS]

Fantastic meal last night.

Yeah?

Oh, it was wonderful.

[LAUGHS]

ANTHONY NARRATING:
This morning, Luis

is taking me to the market
to check out the local goods.

The market down here.

We go to see down.

[SPEAKING_SPANISH].

[SPEAKING_SPANISH]

-[SPEAKING_SPANISH]
Very important people.

America, oh!

This is the very
important people.

This the best.

He's the king!

[LAUGHING]

I'll see you!

You know everybody
in this town.

Yeah.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
If you ask Luis

to define Basque
territory, he'll

describe it in terms
of a food triangle that

starts in Spain's best
wine region, the Rioja, up

into French foie gras
territory, and back

here to the bountiful
seafood of San Sebastian.

Basque food is seafood.

The Basque like to
describe themselves

as a nation of fishermen.

They're proud of that
part of their heritage,

and their food reflects it.

LUIS (OFFSCREEN): Fresh hake.

Look at the way the
gills are displayed.

OK, this is a good,
really good idea,

so you can see how red
and bright and fresh.

And there is the tableau.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN): Oh,
this comes dear in New York.

This is so expensive for good--

It's very expensive.

Oh, the people, chefs in
New York would kill for this!

Look at that turban.

Wow!

Oh!

LUIS (OFFSCREEN): The red fish.

Red fish.

LUIS (OFFSCREEN): Cigala.

Monkfish.

Monkfish livers.

That's like foie
gras of the sea.

This is salted
bacalao, you see?

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN): Oh yeah.
LUIS (OFFSCREEN): OK, lovely.

Oh baby.

LUIS (OFFSCREEN): This
is very special It's

one of the appetizers
the most dearer.

OK.

We call it [INAUDIBLE].

And you eat it like this.

You, you put it like this.

You cut it through here, take
it, and the meat is inside.

Oh, you look at
all this, you just

want to start
cooking right away.

LUIS (OFFSCREEN): [LAUGHS]

I'm planning on doing a lot
of drinking and eating tonight.

I think I'll get some
rest this afternoon

and uh, get myself ready.

Later this afternoon, this,
like this you will be--

You need to need to
train to eat around here.

Yeah, yeah.

Professionals
only. [LAUGHS] This

is not a place for amateurs
to drink or to eat.

ANTHONY NARRATING: Tonight I've
got a special meal planned.

Luis and his daughter
Virginia are accompanying me

to Arzak, a three star
restaurant considered by most

to be the best
restaurant in Spain.

Run by chef Juan Mari
Arzak, it's nouveau Basque,

so he's expanding a traditional
form as far as he can

and doing it
really, really well.

Should I let the chef decide
what, what, what I should eat?

Probably yes.

Let's go in.

We go in.

Mari, [SPANISH].

ANTHONY NARRATING: Luis and
Juan Mari go back aways,

so they know each other and
are clearly good friends.

[LAUGHS] [SPEAKING_SPANISH]

ANTHONY NARRATING: We
are very, very fortunate.

We are experiencing
a rare treat here

in that we're sitting
at the chef's table

right in the kitchen.

The man himself is here.

And his daughter Elena
is chef de cuisine.

You prefer [SPANISH]?

Oh, game or, or meat?

What do I prefer?

I would say at the moment,
this is not for game.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
What's different here

than eating in New York
is that you're already

in possibly the most
critical food crazy

town in the universe.

So to have somebody at
the top of that, that's

sorta like reaching
the top of Everest

only to find another
mountain on top of that.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN):
Oh, look at this!

[SPEAKING_SPANISH]

This is [INAUDIBLE].

They make it with sheep's--

VIRGINIA (OFFSCREEN):
Sheep's milk.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN):
Sheep's milk.

LUIS (OFFSCREEN): Sheep's.

And with a little
bit foie inside.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN): Foie gras.

So the ingredients
are very traditional,

but the combination
and the presentation

are something else.

ANTHONY NARRATING: Elena Arzak
explains all the dishes for us.

This is crayfish
with egg, eggplant.

It's cooked with
garlic and rosemary.

This is a sea bass.

It's a local fish.

And the duck sauce we mix with
olive oil and it's like that.

[SIZZLING]

This is wild duck that is
roasted in their own juice.

And then you have a garnish
with seasonal vegetables.

Spectacular.

Thank you.

And your English is
beautiful, by the way.

No, it's very bad!

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN): No, no!

It's very, very good!

There are a rare breed of chefs
in the world who lay awake

at night staring at
the ceiling thinking,

would sheep's milk yogurt
go well with foie gras?

Could I get away with that?

What will it taste like?

What would they look like?

What would they smell like?

What would it go with?

I have never in my life
really thought like that.

I work from a single ingredient.

What do I do with the tuna?

It's the difference
between uh, you

know, greatness and a
journeyman professional.

JUAN MARI (OFFSCREEN):
[SPEAKING SPANISH]

ANTHONY NARRATING: This
poached egg appetizer

is a good example of
how Arzak has elevated

traditional Basque
ingredients into

new and spectacular dishes.

This is before cooking.

It's an egg yolk, a very
fresh, it's a very fresh egg,

whole egg.

White truffle oil, goose fat.

First it sits up in
the fridge for a day.

Then it's poached
in this bag and then

I guess the bag is very
delicately removed.

And then it's topped with
either caviar or mushroom.

And there's, in this
case, a mushroom garnish

with a chorizo puree.

Now what flight of
fancy was sort of

like a religious
epiphany, you know.

I see an egg!

[SPEAKING_SPANISH]

It was the egg.

It started with the egg.

Doesn't everything?

ANTHONY NARRATING: It's
extraordinarily good food.

Wildly creative.

Is it art?

You know, we could argue
about that all day.

But it is craft performed
at its highest level.

And it's done so with
quiet style and grace.

[SPEAKING_SPANISH]

Are they two old
lions, or what? [LAUGHS]

ANTHONY NARRATING: On
my last night in town,

Luis's daughters invite me and
some friends out for tapas.

Hola.

Let me introduce you
to our sister Visi.

She's the chef.

She's the manager of the school.

Pleased to meet you.

And she's also a teacher.

This is a friend
of ours, Althea.

She's also coming out with us.

ANTHONY NARRATING: We've seen
what the boys do on their night

out.

Let's see what the women do.

I'm in trouble.

I know I'm in trouble.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Their idea of fun

is follow another
glorious Basque tradition,

bouncing around from
bar to bar, eating

as they say, a little bit often.

Well, this is Ganbara.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN):
Oh, looks good!

WOMAN (OFFSCREEN):
First thing, tapas

is the name we give to
this uh, sort of mini food.

But in the Basque country,
we call it pinchos.

This is our first
stop called Ganbara.

Their speciality is wild
seps, wild mushrooms.

These seps grow around the area
in the country in the mountains

around San Sebastian.

And a lot of people
go out sep hunting.

[SPEAKING_SPANISH]

And you have to get up very
very early in the morning

to find the best seps
and the best places.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN): Right.

Oh, look at that!

Wild seps.

And we have a raw egg
yolk in the middle.

So you can either
eat just the seps

or you can dip it into
the, the egg yolk.

I need privacy for this.

Oh wow.

Now what do we have here?

That's tuna?

All sorts of things.

Here we have
marinated anchovies.

I'm gonna remember that.

White anchovies, I love these.

Oh man, this looks so good.

WOMAN (OFFSCREEN): Right.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN):
With anchovy also?

WOMAN (OFFSCREEN): Mm hmm.

Smoked salmon.

Smoked salmon.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN): Octopus?
WOMAN (OFFSCREEN): Octopus.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN):
What is this?

WOMAN (OFFSCREEN):
White asparagus.

Yes.

How can you look at this
without going insane.

Where does one begin?

I mean, if you eat that, that
means that you might not later

be able to eat that.

We're going to another one.

Sounds good to me.

I got a whole new posse.

ANTHONY NARRATING: It's easy to
be a little dazzled by it all.

It looks like a hell
of a lot of food,

but you don't have
to eat it all.

You're here to get what's
particularly good at this one

joint and then move on.

Now we're going
to the Astelena.

And here they do what we call
pastel de pescado, which is a,

can be translated as fish cake.

Mm hmm.

And it's delicious.

As you can see, there are
no pinchos on the counter.

They all have to order
them from the kitchen.

They're all cooked.

So fish cake and codfish
cooked with onion and peppers.

That's what we're
here for, and this.

ANTHONY NARRATING: I enjoyed
this whole style of eating.

You know, bouncing around
drinking with lots of women,

going from bar to bar.

Mussels.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Eating a little bit,

drinking a little bit.

Oh, look at this!

ANTHONY NARRATING: I'm a
short attention span guy,

so this whole idea of
going right in, grabbing

what you want and moving
on really appeals to me.

[SPEAKING_SPANISH]

ANTHONY NARRATING: And
it's just a lot of fun.

This is pastel de pescado.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN):
Oh, this is the famous?

MAN (OFFSCREEN): Best
fish cake in town.

WOMAN (OFFSCREEN):
[SPEAKING SPANISH]

OK, what's in here?

So good.

I'm afraid this is a secret.

Vamanos!

Vamanos!

OK, when I stumble home
from the bar in New York,

I don't see this.

Such a beautiful city.

ANTHONY NARRATING: The
last place of the evening

is sort of a nouvelle
high end tapas place.

They've moved away from
with the traditional pinchos

and dressed it up a little.

They use squeeze bottles here.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN):
This is so sexy.

That's ravioli stuffed with
boudin noir, or black pudding.

How is that, Tony?

You enjoying it?

That's for me.

Nobody touches that!

[LAUGHS]

ANTHONY NARRATING: This is
not traditional pinchos.

Raviolis with blood
sausage inside?

Foie gras?

I must say, one of the things
I love most in life is foie.

And I hate myself
for it, because when

I think of the poor
ducks and gooses.

It's it's an equation.

Is all of that torment
and cruelty worth it?

You know, a fur coat,
it's not worth it.

For the joy of hunting,
it's not worth it.

But for foie gras,
[FRENCH], man.

I think this is the last.

I want to thank one,
two, three, four,

five very dangerous ladies.

Come on, everybody.

Cheers!

Chinchin!

This is a toast
for all America.

And we hope you come
in here to our country

and have a very
good time. [LAUGHS]

[SPEAKING_SPANISH]

[LAUGHING] [INAUDIBLE]

ANTHONY NARRATING: Luis and
I have one last mission here

in San Sebastian.

OK, where are we going now?

Well, to drink
chocolate with churros.

Ah, here we go.

We go for chocolate here.

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

ANTHONY NARRATING:
Chocolate and churros.

It's the traditional morning
chow in San Sebastian.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN):
Oh, that looks good!

Oh, this is a plan!

LUIS (OFFSCREEN): Perfecto!

This is kind of like, well,
like a flipper in New England.

The Italians make something
kinda like it, like a zeppole.

Fried, fried batter, in
this case dredged in sugar.

Dipped in a really
good hot chocolate.

Nothing like a serious, like
sort of grease and sugar

rush first thing in the
morning, jacked with chocolate.

This is the breakfast
of champions.

ANTHONY NARRATING:
I don't know if it's

a traditional hangover cure.

But it's working in my case.

You like some more chocolate?

No, no.

I'm good, thank you.

You have enough?

Perfect.

Though I imagine this
would warm you up after uh,

riding some tubes.

Do you surf?

Yeah.

You, you surf?

No, no, no.

ANTHONY (OFFSCREEN): No?

LUIS (OFFSCREEN):
Got a few young one.

Oh, they do fantastic.

Lovely.

ANTHONY NARRATING: San Sebastian
is a beautiful, beautiful town.

It's a city that makes
sense to me somehow.

And I think what I'll take away
from the experience is just as

much the food as the attitude
here, the mania for food.

The fact that I seem
to have stumbled

onto an entire subculture,
a secret society all

centered around eating,
cooking, and talking

about eating and cooking.

My new friend Luis
is kind enough

to see me off at the station.

Behave yourself.

Not too, not too much
eating and drinking.

[LAUGHS] Don't worry.

Yeah.

Well, you're a
professional. [LAUGHS]

Yes.

Bye bye!

Bye!

ANTHONY NARRATING: I
hate saying goodbye

to him, a nice man who
loves food, knows it

well, cooks it well.

I'm sorry to go.

[MUSIC PLAYING]