By Fred Gonzalez
If you see an accordion player and a tambourine artist walking around Miami this week dressed in traditional Spanish garb, don't think they're Spring Breakers on a bender. They are part of the influx of talent this week from Spain's Basque region (specifically Bizkaia and its capital, Bilbao) with hopes of promoting tourism, food and wine in their part of the world. Coordinating their efforts with the cruise industry's fair this week, they will be touting their ports, their points of interest (like the the Guggenheim Museum) as well as their culinary delights.
Six of the region's top chefs, who each run their own restaurant, are in Miami until Thursday, working together and enjoying exclusive meals at the Fairchild Tropical Gardens for Miami's Basque community
and preparing a menu at the Tides Hotel on Ocean Drive. (They are also rumored to have been enjoying a
taste of Miami's nightlife at Badrutt's Place and Table 8.)
We caught up with one of them, Sabin Arana (Jolastoki in Bizkaia), for a quick chat.
Q: Is it hard working with so many chefs on one menu?
A: More than six chefs, they are six friends, so working together is easy.
Q: How did you prepare for your collaborations?
A: We know we are going to Miami, and we have to get the ingredients in Miami,
so the six of us get together and we talk about what we are going to make.
Q: This is your third trip to Miami; for other chefs it's the first. So, where
do you go eat?
A: We end up going to places we don't see back home. Like the churrascarias.
Q: What makes food from the Basque region unique?
A: Actually, it's always been a way of eating. In the Basque region, in old
times, the mother's typically stayed at home and cooked for the family. So our
influences come from this.
Q: Why should people come to the Basque region and enjoy the food, wine and
A: It's hard to explain. In Spanish, No somos ni los mejores ni los peores. No
es por eso. Somos nosotros. [We're not the best, nor are we the worst. That's not
the reason. We are just ourselves.]