Bourdain was a cooking wizard, and he challenged perfectionism with his skills on multiple occasions. He was always chasing the perfect meal, although, at the back of his mind, he knew it didn't exist.
The late chef, traveler, and TV host openly admitted that perfection was an unattainable ideal. Far too many pieces have to come together to create perfection.
Bourdain knew that.
However, if you believe in perfection, then you might find it at Zapiain in Basque.
At Zapiain, you enjoy meals the old-fashioned way. The cider house is found outside the Basque town of Astigarraga.
Let me paint you a picture of this culinary paradise: imagine a relaxing environment, but not eerily quiet. The setting is a bit bubbly, with murmurs, chuckles, and people queuing with their glasses to catch the streaming cider from wooden barrels.
The idea is not to get as much of this beverage as possible. In fact, once your glass is about one-eighth full, you move it upwards dramatically according to the arc.
That gesture acts as a signal that the person behind you should get ready with their glass. After that, you get back to your table.
It's Easy To Move Around And Talk
Here, people eat food standing up at long wooden tables. Because everyone is standing up, it's easy to mingle, cross between tables and socialize.
There is nothing particularly unique about the menu: you will find everything on Zapiain's menu at practically every Basque cider house.
However, at Zapiain, they do it better than everyone else. The menu has morcilla sausages, grilled and cut into chunks, local chorizo, a large omelet, caramelized onions and peppers, steak, among other delicacies.
Here, the meals are shared, and they are served on large plates. There are no side plates.
When you feel a little thirsty, you go back to the barrel room and get some Basque cider poured in style into your glass before heading back to your table.
What could be better than this?
While I get that perfection doesn't exist, this is pretty close to ideal in my books.
I think the ingredients for a perfect meal are all here. First of all, you need to have good food, and this place certainly has that in plenty.
The food may be simple, but it's cooked skillfully, and it's very delicious. Every item on the menu is also flavored with loads of passion and years of tradition.
For centuries, people in Basque Country have been eating this at cider houses. These eating establishments focus on love for the land and sea.
I believe this place is perfect because you will have the chance to share this precious meal with good company. Here, you will meet lots of people willing to mingle and make friends.
Therefore, you can share your adventures and fun with them. How great is that?
Finally, the perfect meal should have some touch of magic. This is something unique, precious, and unpredictable about Zapiain.
The experience will be magical.
If you are a foreigner here, you will feel right at home among other ex-pats, and that's truly out-of-this-world. This is a rare opportunity to realize just how much we have in common with strangers from different parts of the world.
Basque cider houses are just incredible. Their beauty adds to the excitement that comes with traveling to the most amazing parts of this world.
I guess that you have been to a lot of interesting places in your life. However, Zapiain will offer you an experience unlike anything else you have witnessed before.
All I can say is: if you are set on finding culinary perfection, then this is a good place to start. I think Anthony Bourdain would be proud.