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 beef....so 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 had...so 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 pimientos..at 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.
Pig's ears...charred, very tasty, lovely.
Kokotxas de Bacalao Rebozadas (deep fried Kokotxas)
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...
Canelones..one of the best we've had (we had 2 orders of this)
Satisfied after a long grueling lunch....as 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.