BLOG: Mark on Juan-Marie Arzak

For some reason, Juan–Marie Arzak (whom I know loves me like a brother), decided to start calling me ‘Grumpy’ (or, as he pronounced it, ‘grahmpy’) when we visited him this time. (I suspect he was prompted by some of the grumpy crew members.) In any case, it was – as usual – an amazing visit to his restaurant, incorporating a fantastic lesson in making pil–pil, one of the truly miraculous dishes of Basque cuisine, a fun trip to the port, a sampling of a few of the local pinxos bars, and of course a quiet meal at Juan-Marie’s restaurant at the end of the day.

When I got home, I made this sort of rough shrimp equivalent of pil–pil, with similar flavors but fewer challenges.

Roasted Shrimp with Herb Sauce
Makes 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes

2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 scallions, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 cup parsley (thin stems are okay; discard thick ones)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds shrimp, in the 20 to 30 per pound range, peeled
1/3 cup shrimp, fish, or chicken stock, white wine, or water

1. Preheat the oven to 500dgF. Combine the garlic and oil in the container of a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the scallions and parsley and pulse until the mixture is minced. Toss with the shrimp, salt, pepper, and chilis.

2. Put the shrimp in a roasting pan that will accommodate them comfortably. Add the liquid and put the pan in the oven. Roast, stirring once, until the mixture is bubbly and hot, and the shrimp all pink, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Dueling Breakfasts

At the Marqués de Riscal Hotel & Vineyard, Gwyneth and I had a funny breakfast together. She had yogurt with honey on the side, fruit, and coffee with soymilk. I, on the other hand, had torta del Cesar cheese, tongue terrine, eggs, sausage, thickly sliced rye bread with olive oil and crushed tomatoes, melon, and espresso with sugar.


Posted Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Boquerones are the great Spanish white anchovies pickled in vinegar and stored in olive oil. Since they’re not preserved in salt, like most anchovies, they don’t have the intense saltiness usually associated with anchovies. Instead, they’re mild and tender. Great on pan con tomate or just a toothpick!


Posted Tuesday, February 6, 2018


Mark and Claudia ate these in a pintxo bar in San Sebastián with Juan Mari Arzak. This is one of the easiest ways to prepare mushrooms, but it is also decadent and impressive. The Basque Country is known for its mushrooms, and you find this dish in pintxo bars all around the region.

Serves 4
* 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra–virgin olive oil
* 1 pound porcini or mixed wild mushrooms, cut into 1/8 inch–thick slices
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 4 large eggs
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large skillet over medium–high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are nicely browned and softened. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Fry the eggs sunny–side up in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Transfer to a cutting board and cut away the whites from the yolks (discard the whites). Spoon the mushrooms onto four plates and sprinkle with the parsley, salt, and pepper. Make a little space in the center of each portion of mushrooms, and nestle the yolks in the mushrooms. As you eat, mix the yolk with the hot mushrooms to create a rich, silky sauce.

Posted Tuesday, January 30, 2018

What’s in My Suitcase: The Joy of a Uniform

It’s very easy to pack when you wear the same thing everyday. Throw a few pairs of Crocs in the bottom of your bag, some funky colored socks and shorts, a stack of crisp button-down shirts, a vest or two, and you’re good to go!”


Posted Tuesday, January 23, 2018

BLOG: Bitty in Basque Country

“I’d been in Bilbao before, and wasn’t impressed. Just goes to show what an idiot I can be: This trip was amazing. It wasn’t just that Mario and I got to eat tapas at like four different places in an hour; it was that they were all in the same plaza, and they were all good. (I went back con mi amor the next night.)

Hanging out with Gehry wasn’t bad, either, though I didn’t get to see the museum. I did, however, get to taste grilled caviar in the Basque countryside. Not bad.”


Posted Tuesday, January 16, 2018


There are large billboards all over Spain shaped like bulls and painted black – huge silhouettes looming over the highways. It’s fun to count how many you pass on the long drives. We nicknamed them ‘bullboards.’ –CLAUDIA

Posted Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Frank Gehry and Mark Bittman on Matazh Brei

Frank Gehry and Mark Bittman chat about Matzah Brei at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain

Posted Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Episode 104: Landmarks, Legends and the Lap of Luxury

Gwyneth and Mario meet up with architectural legend Frank Gehry for a tour of the Bilbao Guggenheim. Meanwhile, Mark and Claudia head into the woods where they discover the ultimate grilling restaurant. The foursome reunite at the Gehry-designed Marqués de Riscal Hotel and Vineyard in Rioja wine country. Gwyneth and Claudia opt for oppulent spa treatments while Mario and Mark sneak back into Bilbao to spend a boys’ night out eating and drinking.

Posted Tuesday, December 26, 2017


When the cast of Spain on the road Again ate at Casa Pintos after meeting the mariscadoras in Cambados, Gwyneth was inspired by the chef‘s use of laurel, bay leaves, in the steamed clams. When they got to the Vintona Winery, she volunteered to make everyone her special clams, with enough garlic to clear your sinuses. The healthy slug of Albariño is key.

Serves 4

* 2 pounds berberechos or other clams, scrubbed
* 1 head garlic, cut in half across the bulb
* 2 or 3 fresh bay leaves
* 1/2 bottle Albariño (or other good Spanish dry white wine)
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Put everything in a deep skillet, cover tightly, and steam over medium-high heat until the clams open (yes, it’s really that easy).

Posted Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tarta de Santiago

Tarta de Santiago is the almost too-sweet, perfectly nutty tart that hails exclusively from Santiago de Compestela. Mark, Claudia and I watched how the tarts are made at the factory–it‘s no more than thin pastry shells filled with a mixture of ground Spanish almonds (the best almonds!), eggs, and sugar. The finished tarts are powdered with sugar and slices practically beg for a strong cup of coffee. –MARIO

Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2017


In this week’s episode, be on the lookout for the orujo that goes into the Galician ‘punch’ called queimada. Orujo, sometimes called aguardiente, is a spirit native to Galicia with a very high alcohol level. It’s a bit like Italian grappa or Peruvian pisco—it’s made from the leftovers of the wine-making process, the grape skins and seeds, as well as bits of branches. Strong stuff.

Posted Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Episode 103: Coasting Along in Galicia

Posted Tuesday, November 28, 2017


This is the traditional, restorative soup of Galicia. With a little bread, youve got a great meal on your hands. Marias version was especially good and its no coincidence that she grows her own greens.

Serves 4 to 6

- 1/2 pound thickly sliced pancetta or slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 cup dried white beans, soaked overnight in water to cover
- 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/2 pound Spanish chorizo, casings removed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 pound turnip greens (or other dark leafy green), stemmed and coarsely chopped

Cook the pancetta in a large heavy pot over medium heat until most of the fat is rendered, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the beans, add them to the pot, along with enough water to cover them by 2 inches and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam, then lower the heat and simmer gently, partially covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beans are beginning to soften.

Add the onion, potatoes, and turnips and cook for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Add the chorizo and greens and cook for 10 minutes, or until the greens are tender.

Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Gwyneth Cooking at Home

One of the best parts about a road trip is taking what you‘ve learned and bringing it home. For example, in Galicia at the casa rural, Maria made an incredible stewed capon dish. Mario and I spoke about using the same technique – browning the bird and then braising it with flavorful liquid with different ingredients. And that‘s how my Chinese duck recipe was born! Get a very good organic duck. Cut it into 14 pieces (see Capon Grandma–Style). Prick the skin all over with a sharp paring knife. Rub with some softened butter that‘s been mixed with 3 or 4 minced garlic cloves. Sprinkle with ground cloves and black pepper. Brown the duck well in olive oil in a large heavy pot. Pour off all but a few tablespoons of the fat and add a cup each of Madeira and sake, some mirin, a sprinkle of sugar, lots of grated fresh ginger, a few crushed garlic cloves, and 2 star anise. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook for 3 1/2 hours, or until the duck is very tender. During the last 10 minutes, add soy sauce to taste. Serve garnished with tons of chopped cilantro and sliced scallions. –GWYNETH

Posted Tuesday, November 14, 2017