Sunday, November 21, 2010

San Sebastian, second time around

I know it's been quite a while since I have updated my blog. A series of travelling, work and personal stuff is the cause of why I have not been able to update, but I'm back and hopefully I can post the tons of backlog I have.

I have recently returned from Spain and Italy, where I was able to do some work and a little of r&r with my better half, Ria. We decided to hit Barcelona, San Sebastian, Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan. This first post is obviously about San Sebastian. I really love this classy city in the north of Spain. The food is absolutely the best and the people are so nice. This post will be mostly pictures and quite long, since I compressed all the food in one post, except our Dinner in Arzak, which deserves a separate post.

To start, this was our ride to SS. We took an Alvia train from Barcelona. it took us 6 hours to get there but it was so worth it.
Some scenery from the train ride...

We finally arrive, and during the short walk from the train station to our Hotel, we stop for this picture of the river that divides SS.

Our Hotel...with great views to the river and the beach

After freshening up, we go straight to lunch. The place i choose, Gandarias. It was quite full so they told me we had to wait around 30 minutes. We wait in the bar of the same restaurant, and I have my first pintxos with Txakoli.

Look at those pieces of meat...heaven...

The first pintxos we have in the restaurant while waiting for our table.

We get to our table, and of course I had my eye (or stomach!!) on the Chuleton, dry aged we get a 1 kilo cut which they bring to our table before cooking..

In the mean time, we get a green salad, which turned out for Ria as one of the best she has ever refreshing, crispy, and just the right mix of Olive Oil and Vinegar, Salt and pepper. (Sorry no picture)

After the salad, we had a Revuelto de Hongos y Setas (Egg with different kinds of Mushrooms)

Then the star of the meal...this lovely piece of meat...

Look at that color...

The meat was just so well done, just the right cooking, simply fantastic. The dry aged beef had that nuttiness/Blue cheese taste to it..With the steak, I had a half bottle of Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva. At that point, I was in Steak heaven.

After that huge meal, we had to walk it off, so we wandered around SS, to the famous Playa de la Concha..

The Port where all the fishing boats are docked..

After walking around the City, we got back to our hotel, a bit of rest, then off we were again for a night of Pintxos dinner.

Fresh anchovies with Txakoli of course

Pochas beans with Morcilla..

Kokotxas de Bacalao (fatty part of the neck of the fish)

and a pintxo de Bacalao con this point we were stuffed and just had to head back to the hotel...the next day was going to be another eating marathon.

After a good night sleep, we start the day with a good breakfast: Tortilla de Patatas, a cortado (espresso machiato) and a croissant, which is not in the picture.

The whole morning we spent walking around, doing some shopping and sight seeing.

This is the old part of town, where all the Bars are..

One of my favorite streets, where many of my favorite bars are..

Lunch, was again on one my favorite places, LA CUCHARA DE SAN TELMO.

The sign says basically that the customers cooperation and understanding is key for them to be able to offer the best dishes from their kitchen, in conditions that are not always optimal. The place is tiny and you have to eat standing up, but ohh it's worth all the troubles. The Menu is quite short, around 10 dishes. I ordered all of them, except for the Foie dish, which I had before.

Pulpo (Octopus)

Pig's ears...charred, very tasty, lovely.

Kokotxas de Bacalao Rebozadas (deep fried Kokotxas)
More Pulpo...

Squid Ink Rissotto....the rice was so light, cooked to perfection.

Scallop wrapped in Iberian Bacon

Goat cheese deep fried, wrapped in Jamon Serrano fat, in a base of Pear compote

Cochinillo cooked for 8 hours...melt in your mouth

That's how tender this was... of the best we've had (we had 2 orders of this)

Satisfied after a long grueling you can see the place is tiny. It was packed when we arrived, but people normally don't stay long. They have one plate and they leave. We, on the other had, tried everything on the menu, so even the waiter was shocked.


Dinner that night was in Arzak, one of the first restaurants in Spain to receive 3 Michelin Stars. Juan Mari, the Chef, is a legend in the cooking world so there was no way on earth I was not going to his restaurant. I will though, as mentioned, have a separate post on Arzak.

Our last day in SS, I was finally able to drop by Txepetxa, another one of my favorite bars, introduced to me by Javi Lekumberri. What's so special about this place? The specialize in Fresh anchovies, topped with delicious stuff...needless to say that was my last day, and I had to take advantage, so again, I ordered all the varieties of Anchovies they had on their menu.

I started though with some more Txakoli and a Gilda

From right to left, Lobster cream, Olive paste and Sea Urchin.

More lobster cream, with Pimientos and Salmon Roe

With Foie and one with Blueberry sauce.

The bar, which is very simple and small

This was Txangurro, a Basque specialty, which is Crab mixed with other ingredients, some times baked or sometimes served like this

and last, Pimento relleno of brandada de bacalao, deep fried!

And that is the end of our San Sebastian trip. It was 2 nights/3 days of intense eating and drinking. Something that should not be tried at home unless you have had proper training...kidding aside, I promised myself that I will try to come back to this city at least once a year...I cant get enough of this place.


Elena Gari said...

WOW!! esto es realmente un viaje culinario!!! de todos los platos que has puesto me quedo con el cochinillo (8 horas de cocción) y con el queso de cabra envuelto en jamón, que rico! desde luego en el norte se come de miedo y veo que lo habeis disfrutado.

Miguel said... verdad es que lo pasamos muy bien..yo sobre todo jejeje

AboutBC said...

Magnífico post...

linkado en:

Miguel said...

AboutBC Gracias por el link...os espero en Filipinas!!

encantadisimo said...

Menudo festival!!, todo apetecible pero esas pochas con morcilla ...........

Miguel said...

Pues si la verdad las pochas lo mas flojo incluso la presentacion....

Noel said...

Anak ng pochas talaga....nakakagutom!

Vittle me this... said...

what an amazing trip! The food looks amazing!

Anonymous said...

Great post! You may want to follow up on this topic!


Miguel said...

Thanks Lena and Vittle me really was an amazing trip. We also travelled to Florence, Rome, I have a few more postys coming up about food.

Anonymous said...

great wife and I have been to SS twice in the last year and have fallen in love with the place...going again in May! La cuchara is my happy place

S Lloyd said...

Apart Gandarias, would you know at what restaurant I can have some great steak? I have heard that Galician Beef is especially highly praised. If you know places where they offer great Galician beef steak in San Sebastian, please let me know.
PS: On lunch and dinner, around what time would you recommend that I show up in order to avoid waiting too long (in the case of Gandarias and other eateries as well). Thanks a lot

Miguel said...

Thanks Anonymous! La Cuchara is also my favorite place. Enjoy SS!

Miguel said...

Sorry but I think most of the beef sold or eaten in SS is local. I have tried Galician Chuleton (sdee my post on Asador Ansorena) and it is really good, although normally not dry aged as much as the beef from SS/Bilbao.

I would suggest you reserve. When I went to Gandarias for lunch, it was 2:30 PM and we had to wait almost 30 minutes, although you wait in the bar and can have a few drinks/tapas while waiting so it was not that bad.

S Lloyd said...

Thanks so much, Miguel