Sunday, March 28, 2010

San Sebastian (Donostia) Day 2

After my first day in San Sebastian, I was really excited to see what food I was going to get to try the next day. Our first stop was for lunch. I had chosen to try another classic Basque restaurant (Gandarias) but unfortunately it was closed 2 days for minor reservations. So we decide to try a new creative Pintxos restaurant: A Fuego Negro. They had several degustation choices, so we went for the medium one, with 8 different dishes.

For starters, Aceitunas Gordal with Vermouth Jello. A classic Spanish appetizer, with a twist. This was original and tasted good.

Next, Tomatito Cherry con Salmorejo y Migas Ibericas. Salmorejo is the Andalusian version of Gazpacho, much thicker because of the bread. In this case, it's a de constructed Salmorejo, with the Tomato, Cream inside and Migas Ibericas (Iberian Chicharron) on the outside. Very Creative.

Then we had a refreshing green Salad. Nothing really special about this one except the olive oil was so fragrant and the tomatoes were incredibly crispy and fresh. They then served us the Txiquihuerta con Ketchupa Casero y All i Oli. Basically this is mixed vegetables tempura with beer batter, home made Ketchup and All i Oli made with potatoes instead of Egg. The Home made Ketchup was really really good.

Next was our fish dish: Bacalao confitado en Aceite de Oliva Extra Virgen, patatas y Curry. The Bacalao was again incredibly fresh and perfectly cooked. I really wish we could source out Fresh Bacalao here..this was delicious.

After a quick break, they served us the first of our meat dishes: Papada de Basquecherri, Aire de Limon y Patata Avainillada (Pigs neck, Lemon Air and Mashed Potato with Vanilla). The Pork was so soft and tender I thought it was all fat, but looking closely, I saw that it was in fact meat. Basquecherri is a type of Iberian Pig (pata negra) that has a 350 square meter parcel of land all to himself to roam around freely, so that is what makes this Pig so Special.

Last, Mini Burger de Wagyu, Pan de Ketchup y Patata Macho de Ecuador. Wagyu Burger, Ketchup Bread and Potato which was quite sweet. This was ok but nothing really special. I must say though it was very well cooked, charred on the outside and rare inside.

Our dessert was their own version of Arroz Con Leche, but served Breakfast Style. It was good but again maybe i would have preferred something else.

This was a very creative way of serving Tapas/Pintxos but what I really enjoyed were the regular Pintxos I had the night before and what we had for dinner. At around 8 Pm, we started again in the same Bar we started the night before: Bar Txepetxa. I just can't get enough of this place and wanted to try his other specialties on Anchovies. We stopped by for a couple of Beers, Gildas and 2 Pintxos of Anchovy with Cream of Centollo, and new one made with Huevas de Merluza (Fish Roe). It seems so basic but believe me once you try this, you will be craving for more.

Our next stop was a place called La Cuchara de San Telmo. Quite popular in the old part of town, this is not really a traditional Pintxos Bar but more a bar serving small plates. They do not have a fixed menu and all they have is a blackboard with their daily specials and some best sellers. Look at the Prices!! incredible value for money!

This is what we ordered: Foie "Cuchara" con Compota de Manzana, Bacalao en Tempura a la Cerveza and Vieira Toro envuelta de Tocineta de Bellota.

As you can see, very simple no frills dishes, but top quality Ingredients. The Foie was huge seared with apple compote, fresh Bacalao with a light Tempura beer batter and a Huge Scallop wrapped with Iberian Bacon. These 3 dishes and 4 glasses of wine..15 euros..Incredibly cheap!

Our next stop, Bar Ganbara, a more traditional style Pintxos Bar, where it is normally quite full and all the food is exposed in the bar. You just get what you want to eat and eat it...when you ask for your bill, they asked you what you had. Honor system. I had a hard time remembering how many Txakolis I had and how many pintxos I had...and really they trust what you tell them. It;s quite a struggle to order and get your food, but it's fun and that's what makes this places so original

So this is what we had...of course now I remember after seeing the Photos...

Pulpo a la Vinagreta
Chistorra wrapped in a light, Criossant like dough
More anchovies....
Tartita de Txangurro (Crab Cake)

Sakchichon Iberico and Queso De Zamora.

We had much more than this(Salmon, Jamon Iberico, Olives, etc...) but they were not photographed since I was too excited to eat them. All of this of course washed down with some Txakoli and Rioja wine by the glass.

What an incredible food experience I had in San Sebastian. For me this is truly the mecca of food in Spain. I plan to return this year with my wife and try some 'starred' restaurants (incidentally I think San Sebastian is the City with most Michelin Stars in Spain) like Arzak, Mugaritz, Akelarre, etc....

Agur!! (this means good bye in Basque language)


domesticgoddess said...

Loved and I mean really loved La Cuchara ! Looks like I missed out big time though by not catching A Fuego Negro as my trips to San Sebastian was almost three years ago! Hopefully there will a next time. I really like your photos!

Miguel said...

La Cucahara de San Telmo was one of my I regret not staying there the whole night and ordfering the whole menu on the blackboard hahaha..

Maybe a Fuego Negro was not open yet 3 years ago...

Luxeat said...

All the dishes look wonderful.Must go to San Sebastian one of these days!