The next offering was a simple grilled tuna steak—"caught this morning," our waitress announced. Of that there was no dispute. Over the years as a restaurant critic, I have consumed enough tuna steak to fill a Chevy Suburban. While many of the more refined renditions were prepared with flair and technical skill, none was as flapping fresh as this. A trickle of parsley and lemon vinaigrette was all the seasoning it needed.
A short time after sunset, we spotted the fading lights of the fishing boats as they dipped over the ink-black horizon. We ordered espresso and flan—a fitting punctuation to a meal that, still today, I yearn to rewind and taste again. Our waitress, sensing that something special was transpiring at our table, set out two glasses of sherry. I toasted Anne, my culinary coconspirator and future wife.
Afterward, we strolled the beachside esplanade, charting our three-day search for the best Basque meal in the region—not yet aware, on our first day together in Europe, that we'd just had it.