On Sunday, we went to Etxe Aundi, the restaurant that will be hosting our wedding celebration, to sample the food and decide on a final wedding menu. It was a very difficult task, as all the food was absolutely delicious. Most restaurants in Spain will invite the bride, groom, and their parents to a six-person tester meal like this. Since my parents were unable to attend, the bride's sister and aunt attended to provide their input.
Here's the restaurant as seen from the parking lot. Not all that impressive from here.
We got there at about 1:30 PM, way before the regular lunch crowd, and were the first ones seated.
We were seated in the corner of the downstairs dining room. This is not where our wedding meal will be.
This is the wine we ended up choosing. It also happened to be the one they gave Juan and me in the bar before the meal. At 1.40 €/glass, it seemed pretty pricey at the bar. Good thing it's included with the meal. We all preferred Zaco over the other option, which was also a very nice Rioja.
First, I'll discuss the dishes that lost out in the judging. Note that the serving size depicted in all these photos is larger than for one person and smaller than for six (so we could try many of them).
Ensalada con gulas templada. A warm salad with fake angulas (eels) made of surimi (the fish product used to make fake crab legs). It was good but it was nothing that special. This was the only dish that we voted down quickly.
Ensalada de bacalao. Cod salad. It was good, but mainly because the overwhelming taste was that of the sautéed onions.
Brik de bacalao. Cod cake. This was a crisp pastry sack with cod paste in it. Good, but not great. The fun part with these is the crispiness of the pastry.
Crépe relleno de txangurro. Crépe filled with spider crab. When I heard the name of this dish and the word "txangurro" (a Basque word, pronounced "chan-guru"), I said, "Canguro!?!" (kangaroo). I was kind of serious but just got a "ha ha. funny joke." shrug from the table. They were absolutely delicious, but we discarded it after picking another txangurro dish for the main course that we liked better.
Merluza con gulas. Hake with angulas. This tasted too strongly of olive oil. I love me some olive oil, but I don't want a fancy dish at a fancy restaurant to taste exclusively of olive oil.
Rape al horno. Baked monkfish. I was disappointed to see this dish go, not just because it was delicious, but because it has a horribly vulgar-sounding name that would shock visiting Americans reading the menu.
And now I will present the dishes that will be available at my wedding dinner.
Fantasía de queso fresco con salmón y espinacas. Fantasy of fresh cheese with salmon and spinach. The subtlety of the salmon flavor was, [removing his monocle], simply...exquisite.
Hígado de oca con puré de manzana y salsa de oporto. Goose liver with apple puré and port sauce. This was so delicious that I forgot to take a picture. Don't worry, it didn't taste at all like chicken liver. The sweetness of the apple and port were lovely. Very probably this is what I will order on October 13th.
Salpicón de marisco. Chopped shellfish. This was good, but I'm frankly too impatient to enjoy all but the most yielding shellfish. Could be a hit among lobster fans.
Vieiras gratinadas. Scallops au gratin. This was the only starter that warranted exclamations of, "Oh my god, yes!!" from around the table. This one is in a close second in my book.
Kind of reminds me of the picture I took of my napkin at the start of the meal.
Mil hojas de langostinos y almejas. Millefeuille of prawns and clams. For those of you that don't speak snooty French, I can tell you that "mil hojas" translates literally to "a thousand sheets", and must refer to this style of layered pastry. It was, of course, delicious. But at this point, I was starting to lose interest in eating.
For the main course, you may choose between either:
Merluza rellena de txangurro. Hake stuffed with spider crab. This was fantastic. A little seafood explosion on the tongue.
Solomillo a la plancha con setas y pimientos. Grilled sirloin steak with mushrooms and peppers. We had to go with at least one "old faithful" dish that everyone will recognize. At this point, I was in too much of a gluttonous stupor to remember to take a picture or try any, but the people that did said it was delicious. The problem with serving steak to a lot of people is that you can't ask everyone how well done they want it. So it will be served fairly rare, and then people can ask the waiters to have it cooked some more.
They brought us three kinds of sorbet. Apple (green), mandarin (orange), and passion fruit (yellow). Both the apple and mandarin contained alcohol.
They were all very nice. The apple was a little more tart that I would have liked.
After seeing how the vodka settled to the bottom after only a few minutes, we decided to go with the yellow, non-alcoholic passion fruit sorbet. It was everyone's favorite flavor anyway.
We had three different kinds of ice cream. I can't remember which we picked, but they were all good and will go great with the wedding cake.
And every Spanish meal is followed with a coffee.
So the final menu will be (imagine a fancy font): (choose one from each group)
Fantasía de queso fresco con salmón y espinacas Hígado de oca con puré de manzana y salsa de oporto Salpicón de marisco Vieiras gratinadas Mil hojas de langostinos y almejas
Merluza rellena de txangurro Solomillo a la plancha con setas y pimientos
Sorbete de maracuya
Tarta nupcial con helado
Each of those respectively in English are:
Fantasy of fresh cheese with salmon and spinach Goose liver with apple puré and port sauce Chopped shellfish Scallops au gratin Millefeuille of prawns and clams
Hake stuffed with spider crab Grilled sirloin steak with mushrooms and peppers
Passion fruit sorbet
Wedding cake with ice cream
Note that some of the items are too sophisticated for the English language and must be written in French, instead.
UPDATE! [2007-09-18] - Guests will be receiving ALL of the items on the menu. You don't have to eat it all, but you're going to get it all anyway. It's not like you can choose items off the menu. It'll all be placed before you. I apologize for any confusion.
After eating, we went up to look at the main dining room. It was set for a party of 100 people, which is about how many we will be.
We wanted to have everyone at round tables, but there just won't be room for that. Oh well. The "presidency" will be seated at one end of the room, facing everyone. The order at that table will be: my grandmother, my father, my mother, me, Marga, her father, her mother, and her grandfather. Good old "boy-girl-boy-girl" pattern.
That's a lot of glasses per plate!
Looking down the spiral staircase.
A cactus garden under the stairs.
This is the patio outside. If the weather is good enough, it would be awesome to have the dance out here.
Used to be stables.
We left at 6:45 PM. The first to arrive and the last to leave. Five hours of eating expensive gourmet food for free. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.
P.S. Now that I got that gluttony deadly sin out of the way, I'm ready to convert to Catholicism this week.