‘We couldn’t go to a three-star Michelin restaurant with five-year-old twins. We did’
My most treasured meal: Neven Maguire
Neven Maguire treasures memories of a family meal at Arzak in San Sebastian. Photograph: Fran Veale
Throughout Food Month people will share with us their most treasured food memory. You can share yours at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am lucky to have had many memorable meals, but one that stands out was with my wife, Amelda, at Arzak in San Sebastian. It was a real gastronomic experience.
In the Basque country they love good food. You can eat very simply. They always talk about the Michelin stars, but for me Arzak is all about generosity.
Elena Arzak and her husband, Senor Arzac we call him ... they are the kindest sweetest people. I have had the pleasure of eating there maybe four times. I worked there also as a chef in 2001.
We went as a family to the old town last year and we were walking up the street and we met Elena and she asked us to come to the restaurant. “I will cook for you,” she said.
I said no, we couldn’t go to a three-star Michelin restaurant with the twins, they were only five, and she said “Yes, you can.”
For Conor and Lucia she did a little seared tuna which the twins loved as a starter, and then a little poached cod, and some simple mashed potato with some grilled steak, and finally some of the best home made ice-cream I have ever tasted.
The twins didn’t have any alcohol. Me and Amelda looked after that! We had the tasting menu. We were seated in the lounge. We didn’t disturb any of the other customers. We were sitting beside a two Michelin star chef from New York and he was blown away by how relaxed the twins were.
We had lobster, monkfish ... the way they cook fish is fantastic ... so fresh, with a lot of interesting touches. Their menu is always evolving. They might create 150 new dishes, but maybe only 20 make it on to the menu.
They spoiled us. We had lamb done two or three ways and it was beautiful the way Elena came out and served the four of us. They are such generous people.
Neven Maguire’s latest book, Neven Maguire’s Perfect Irish Christmas, is published by Gill Books, €22.99