advertisement

Fernando Canales is a rock star among Bilbao chefs. Turn on any local food show and he’s likely to pop up with his chiseled good looks to show viewers precisely how to make some avant-garde creation with three ingredients and a little magic. Yet somehow he finds time to run the kitchen in this sumptuous, post-modern glass dining room in the Palacio Euskalduna. Part of the secret to the terrific dishes is that Canales goes the extra mile to get the very best product. He counts as a personal friend the president of a Basque fishing brotherhood who can acquire ingredients that no one else has, like local goose barnacles (percebes). When other chefs lament the end of summer, Canales celebrates with a glorious menu he calls “the treasures of winter,” starting with cauliflower and trout eggs on toast, then moving on to dishes employing different kinds of truffles, artichoke with saffron cream, baked rice and rabbit, a fish stew of winter species, braised partridge. . . . He’s convinced there is always something good to eat, and he’s ready to prove it.