San Sebastián, Spain……. A taste of Culinary Heaven!
Let me just begin by saying there is not a speedy way to travel to San Sebastián, Spain from the United States. All flights require a layover in Europe, with Barcelona and Madrid being the closest international hubs. It is a 5-6 hour car ride to SS from either of these two sister cities, train service is another option, however for our itinerary it was not an option.
Having researched this obstacle for months my friends and I decided to forgo the connecting flights, and journey out on our own. With a click of the mouse we rented a van from Budget and began our 6 hour trek to the new culinary capital of Europe.
Miles and miles of beautiful countrys
ide, tunnels, tolls, vineyards, and more tolls. Prepare yourself before departing the airport and exchange ur currency. We estimate that we spent upwards of 50.00 American dollars in tolls. Money well spent however……arrival into the outskirts of SS down the windy Mountain pass sits a truly picturesque city.
Being that we totaled 7 guests in our group we opted out of staying in hotel rooms and decided to rent a flat. A very simple process through Feelfreerentals.com and very economical. Our four bedroom/3 bath apartment was perfectly nestled 1 block west of the Urumea ibaia and a one minute walk from the neogothic Buen Pastor Cathedral.
Unlike the famous tapas bars of Barcelona, San Sebastián refers to there miniature food delicacies as pintxos. Think Hors d oeuvres, mostly cold, some hot and offered in every bar in the city. As with any restaurant, pinxotos bars range in food quality and atmosphere. What was surprising however is that the overall food quality, freshness and creativity in all of San Sebastián is excellent. The Basque take eating and drinking very seriously, and there love of the land and there heritage is evident in every bite.
I’m certain we visited upwards of 25 pintxos bars, having a taste or two at each. To list them all in this blog would be unrealistic, and may keep you from venturing out on your own tasting journey. There was however, one bar that kept drawing me back and that was Beti-ai Berria. The food and presentation here was superb. Outwardly friendly staff combined with delicious fresh flavors. Beti is located in the Parte Vieja (old town) and this along with the area of Gros is where you can and will find yourself in a state of culinary bliss as you bar hop until the wee hours of the morning. Remember the Spaniards still recognize siesta, which means shops close in the afternoon from approx 2:00 pm until 5 ish and then reopen until 8:00pm. So the earliest you can have a dining experience at lunch is 1:00 and 8:30 for dinner with the busiest dining time being 9:30 pm.
Besides just eating in SS we also did consume vino. And in doing so journeyed to the area of Navarra about one hour outside of SS for two winery tours. We hired a driver for the day which I highly recommend for not just the obvious , but also the navigational piece.
It was a cool misty day as we found ourselves escorted thru the vineyards of Senorio De Sarria and Larrainzar both of which gave us a much greater knowledge and appreciation of the terroir of this beautiful region.
The Navarra region produces a significant amount of Rose which pairs beautifully with pinxotos of course, so be sure to order a glass or two of “Rosato” on your crawls. Grape varietals in Navarra include Tempranillo, Cabernet, Garnacha, Merlot, Garnacha Tinta, Graciano, Mazuelo, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Garnacha Blanca, Malvasia, Moscatel, Viura, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
There are just to many great things to say about San Sebastián so let me close with this…… I was truly Entertained Deliciously and will be also!!
Check back to my blog to read about Restaurant Etxebarri, a gastronomic experience in Basque Country.