Encuentro de los mares



Aitor Arregi and Andalusia’s culinary landscape

David Salvador


Getaria’s Michelin-starred chef opened up his embassy in 2016 in Chiclana, where he laid on a lunch on Tuesday “to demonstrate the virtues of Cádiz’s sea with nothing but a grill”. Aitor Arregi cooked lunch on the second day of Meeting of the Seas.

They had travelled all morning to gain an insight into the reality of the province’s aquaculture. They had to stop at noon, but this was a break to continue the immersion in the culinary sense. The man in charge, Aitor Arregi; the place, the Cataria restaurant, which the Basque chef opened in 2016 in the Iberostar Selection Andalucía Playa in Sancti Petri, only a few kilometres from Cádiz. The aim of the restaurant was to take grilling techniques down south.

Arregi and his second-in-command, Pablo Vicari, demonstrated their understanding of fish from the Cádiz coast, “even richer than the Basque coast”, always grilled, which is their understanding of cookery. With more or less smoke, but always grilled, he presented sea-marinated giant cupped oyster, sea anemones, grilled “morena” eel with pil-pil sauce, red porgy and a sequence of white Huelva prawn, red Isla Cristina prawn and Sanlúcar langostino. In addition to false scad, with soft almonds and the “cepina” halophile, preceding two tapas of roe and gonads – the reproductive organs of the female and male species – “to demonstrate our commitment to using 100% of the fish”, explained. 

The subtlety of Andalusian grills, elevation of the product, Arregi’s respect for the latitude that has welcomed him. Applause, too, for bread from Arcos de la Frontera, Arbequina oil from Conil, and also the Juvé & Camps wines and the underwater wines of Bodegas Carchelo (Jumilla, Murcia) which washed down the lunch.