A new course for Sergio Bastard and the use of “colatura” in the kitchen

The talented chef from Casona del Judío, in Spain, presents original menus while dishing out a first rate dinner

11-09-2019
Sergio Bastard in front of the entrance to his re

Sergio Bastard in front of the entrance to his restaurant Casona del Judío, in Santander, in the Spanish region of Cantabria, in the north, in front of the Gulf of Biscay between Asturias and Basque Country 

Sergio Bastard is one of the most interesting chefs in all of Spain. Born in 1979, a Catalan from Barcelona but based in the Cantabrian capital of Santander since 2013, in the Casona del Judío "a 19th century building that looks like one of Hopper’s paintings", as we wrote back in 2014 (Bastard Talent), he’s a representative – and one of the best ones – of the new season of Iberian cuisine: a fertile blend of the conceptual heritage of the avantgarde (with a strong use of techniques and technologies, and a propensity for research that follows only one North star, that is to say creative freedom) and of the growing trend of pure flavours, of seeming minimalism, of surprising through naturerather than with human artifice, to research possible new solutions that derive from the unexpected surrounding us

Casona del Judío. The gourmet restaurant is in the building to the right. On the left, they’ve created a modern space for events 

Casona del Judío. The gourmet restaurant is in the building to the right. On the left, they’ve created a modern space for events 

Niederkofler comes to mind, his journey around the world which ended with the discovery of how the most unknown things are in fact just round the corner; "Cook the Cantabria", for Bastard: which means exploring the naturaleza vegetal, the endless possibilities suggested by the nature surrounding him, as he explained at Identità Milano 2015. So, he presents the flavours of marine vegetables, the huge heritage that lives between waves, rocks and coasts; he studies the possible dietary uses of milk serum (the region is famous for its cheese and the serum is usually discarded as waste. See Sergio Bastard: siero delle mie brame, in Italian); or he researches the use of the liquids resulting from other preparations, like brine, or the colaturadripping from anchovies (salmurias).

Bastard at Encuentro de los Mares

Bastard at Encuentro de los Mares

Bastard spoke about it a few months ago as well, at Encuentro de los Mares, the congress on island food and sustainability held in Andalusia:

«Only in Santoña [a town in Cantabria with 10K inhabitants] there are between 60 and 80 factories producing preserves, and only two recover the liquids. Where does the rest end? Into the sea. We want to analyse this issue and discover its impact on the ecosystem. If governments don’t offer solutions, we’ll try to as chefs».

So, here is salmuria (that is to say salmuera, the water released by the anchovies) dripped on dehydrated egg yolk: he sterilises them and the resulting product allows him to make – in the traditional way - a "strong mayonnaise" which can keep even for three weeks, in a totally natural way, with a more concentrated flavour and a stronger texture, and which can then be used to make Bearnaise, Hollandaise and other sauces. Bastard’s research focuses not just on salmuriaas a seasoning, but as an ingredient that adds umami and changes the structures thanks to its proteins. He uses this to make meringues too. And more:

«We added salmuria to fresh calamari; this way we have managed to transform its structure, and obtain a buttery texture, strengthening the flavour. The result is unexpected, it feels smoother. The results with fish, meat, seafood and vegetables are equally surprising. This is a potentiator that we can use to soften, marinate, cook, age».

The staff at Casona del Judío. Bastard is in the middle, to his left, French sous Jerome Quarmouchi, born in 1986 in Toulouse 

The staff at Casona del JudíoBastard is in the middle, to his left, French sous Jerome Quarmouchi, born in 1986 in Toulouse 

Bastard, who’s passionate about this research, only recently found the time to take a leap in quality at his Casona del Judío: from a simple bistro that hid in its bowels only one table where one could taste the results of his experiments, to a real gourmet restaurant though always paying attention to inclusiveness (the menu à la carte offers mostly product-focused recipes; to explore his creativity it’s best to choose one of the tasting menus, for 52 and 68 euros). Today you can dine in a light, large and elegant room: after having received so much praise as a cook, the goal is now to obtain some important acknowledgements for the restaurant as well.

The new dining room at Casona del Judío

The new dining room at Casona del Judío

Meanwhile, we praise his cuisine: very neat flavours, originality, exceptional raw materials, right techniques, elegance, extreme deliciousness. Here’s our tasting menu. The photos are from Tanio Liotta.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

Fried piparra with zabaglione and marinated fennel. Piparra is a typical sweet pepper from North Spain

Fried piparra with zabaglione and marinated fennelPiparra is a typical sweet pepper from North Spain

Macaron with wakame seaweed, cream of coffee and anchovies 

Macaron with wakame seaweed, cream of coffee and anchovies 

"Beach feeling": they serve bread with fresh herbs and a butter aromatised with smoked sardines 

"Cantabrian caviar" with seaweed bread: it’s a fine calamari tartare with its ink with a mayonnaise of brine and codium seaweed. A very elegant taste 

Avocado, Oscietra caviar, marinated piparra, lettuce pil-pil (made with an extract of the vegetable plus the fat part of the sea bass: the result is delicate). As we said, piparra is a green sweet pepper. Another very elegant dish: tasty, rich, elegant, convincing  

Avocado, Oscietra caviar, marinated piparra, lettuce pil-pil (made with an extract of the vegetable plus the fat part of the sea bass: the result is delicate). As we said, piparra is a green sweet pepper. Another very elegant dish: tasty, rich, elegant, convincing  

Marinated tiger prawn, Hollandaise sauce, sorrel

Marinated tiger prawn, Hollandaise sauce, sorrel

Lágrima peas, wagyu ham consommé, Bearnaise sauce with capers and wine. The lágrima peas are a delicacy from North Spain (especially the Basque Country): small, tender, very sweet, «here in Cantabria we pick them later than in the País Vasco)

Lágrima peas, wagyu ham consommé, Bearnaise sauce with capers and wine. The lágrima peas are a delicacy from North Spain (especially the Basque Country): small, tender, very sweet, «here in Cantabria we pick them later than in the País Vasco)

Chargrilled lobster, granita of tomato water with Oloroso, the fortified wine of Jerez. The only dish we didn’t like at all, and because of a serious technical issue: the crustacean smelled of the firelighter clearly used to light up the embers

Chargrilled lobster, granita of tomato water with Oloroso, the fortified wine of Jerez. The only dish we didn’t like at all, and because of a serious technical issue: the crustacean smelled of the firelighter clearly used to light up the embers

Marinated cuttlefish, its ink, sea fennel, colatura. The latter enhances the “marine” taste of the squid, as if it were its entrails; but, compared to these, it was much more elegant. Overall, a complex and excellent dish, with a boisterous taste, though clean on the palate 

Marinated cuttlefish, its ink, sea fennel, colatura. The latter enhances the “marine” taste of the squid, as if it were its entrails; but, compared to these, it was much more elegant. Overall, a complex and excellent dish, with a boisterous taste, though clean on the palate 

Pepper from Navarra, pearls of balsamic vinegar from Modena. The pepper is both confit, and as a juice. (Excellent) traditional flavours, you can notice there’s butter and garlic 

Pepper from Navarra, pearls of balsamic vinegar from Modena. The pepper is both confit, and as a juice. (Excellent) traditional flavours, you can notice there’s butter and garlic 

Salted cod tripe, cream of kombu, sea lettuce pil pil, spider crab, portulaca

Salted cod tripe, cream of kombu, sea lettuce pil pil, spider crab, portulaca

Bomba rice, sea anemones, lime marmalade, red chilli pepper and ice plant. The anemones are finely chopped in olive oil. Another great dish. Bomba is a Spanish very precious rice variety with a EU POD certificate

Bomba rice, sea anemones, lime marmalade, red chilli pepper and ice plant. The anemones are finely chopped in olive oil. Another great dish. Bomba is a Spanish very precious rice variety with a EU POD certificate

Marinated and seared bonito, tomato concasséed, bonito sauce with vermouth, gazed tomato. Bonito is a typical tuna of North Spain. Delicious 

Marinated and seared bonito, tomato concasséed, bonito sauce with vermouth, gazed tomato. Bonito is a typical tuna of North Spain. Delicious 

A small bonito tartare 

A small bonito tartare 

Chargrilled pigeon. The breast is in one piece, the (raw) fillet is served as a steak tartare, the strips are served on pan de brona, a corn bread from Galicia. Very good technical execution 

Chargrilled pigeon. The breast is in one piece, the (raw) fillet is served as a steak tartare, the strips are served on pan de brona, a corn bread from Galicia. Very good technical execution 

Cannolo with coffee wafer, sour cream with peas. Very interesting 

Cannolo with coffee wafer, sour cream with peas. Very interesting 

Gelato of balsamic vinegar from Modena, earth of toasted corn, chocolate and whisky ganache, milk reduction and cardamom

Gelato of balsamic vinegar from Modena, earth of toasted corn, chocolate and whisky ganache, milk reduction and cardamom

Custard cream with red tea and liquorice, tarragon pesto, sour cherry jam, cherries with terragon, rose water, pepper gelato, bread aromatised with tea 

Custard cream with red tea and liquorice, tarragon pesto, sour cherry jam, cherries with terragon, rose water, pepper gelato, bread aromatised with tea 


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