AAL Forum 2021 Blog


Bizkaia’s cuisine recognised in World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards

One of the main attractions of the forthcoming AAL Forum 2018 in Bilbao/Bizkaia on 24-26 September is without doubt the chance to get to know and enjoy at first hand the cuisine that is one of the great passions of the Basque soul and of the area’s culture, and its finest calling card.

Basque cuisine has long been high in the international lists, and has garnered praise from many experts and gastronomic critics all over the world. The Basque Country as a whole and Bizkaia in particular boast a range of possibilties that is among the best in Europe for its restaurants and its pintxos, which are one of the most attractive features of eating in the area. They are bite-sized morsels, usually served with bread, which can often stand in for a main meal.

The tradition of eating pintxos is one of the local features that tourists to the area find most attractive. All the bars, from the smallest to the most innovative, offer pintxos of some kind, from the traditional potato omelette (in several varieties), through ham, vegetable, seafood and combined sweet and savoury snacks to the typical ‘Gildas’ (chilli pepper, olive and pickled anchovy on a skewer) which are a must all over Bizkaia.

As far as restaurants go, Bilbao has one of the finest reputations for good eating anywhere in Europe. It is not for nothing that the Basque Country has 22 Michelin-starred restaurants in the latest guide: the second highest number anywhere in the Iberian Peninsula.


Just a few weeks ago the city was the venue for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards, known as the “culinary Oscars”. In the words of the organisers, it was chosen as a tribute to one of the world’s great temples of gastronomy.

Basque cuisine, particularly that of Bizkaia, boasts many ancient, almost magical recipes of its own. Cases in point include porrusalda (a traditional leek and potato stew) and red bean stew “with all the trimmings”. But there are also T-bone steak, cod in pil pil or Biscayne sauce, txipirones (squid in its ink), hake in parsley sauce, marmitako (tuna stew) and goxua, the Basque dessert par excellence.


There arte several key distinctions between the cuisine of Bizkaia and that of other internationally renowned cuisines: it makes use of practically all the produce that can be provided by the land (vegetables, wine, meat) and the sea. The underlying idea is to base dishes on the finest seasonal produce. It also uses ingredients sourced as locally as possible to ensure freshness.

With these raw materials, chefs in Bizkaia produce everything from the simplest recipes packed with traditional flavours to carefully prepared presentations with unlikely but delicious combinations that blend original and avant-garde flavours and cutting-edge cooking technology.

Local Basque fish, meat and vegetables are renowned for their high quality. The area’s wines and liqueurs (Txakolí, Rioja Alavesa, Patxarán) are also in increasing demand on the international market. And then there are the pintxos, bite-sized delicacies which are available in most of the bars in Bilbao/Bizkaia at affordable prices, and can be enjoyed all day long (indeed, they often compete with main meals).

On your forthcoming visit to the AAL Forum don’t pass up the opportunity to visit some of the innumerable restaurants in Bilbao or try out the various pintxos routes that can be found all over the city.