After a couple of days sporting white & red with all the drunk teenagers in Europe followed by a ridiculously early morning wake up call and three whole minutes of bull running hysteria, it was time for a change of scenery. Jen & I hopped the next bus to beachy San Sebastian on the Atlantic coast, hoping its culinary reputation would hold up better than Pamplona’s rep for authentic cultural festivities did.
San Sebastian is known as one of the best culinary destinations in Europe, if not in the world. Once we found a pension to sleep in (leaving that to the last minute during the Festival of San Fermin is a no-no), we set off to see if it was true. Meandering through the charming town, we came upon a bakery window full of treats. It already felt like heaven to me.
To my great delight, Basques are notorious food snobs. Ingredients are always fresh, bought at the market that very morning and whipped up by an exacting chef that evening. The cheeses and hams are so varied and rich, you could be onboard paying more than 3 Euros a piece per pinxto. Here in Basque country, tapas are called pintxos. And they’ll change your life if you let them.
San Sebastian is home to many Michelin starred restaurants, but I didn’t visit one. I was too busy gorging myself at the dozens of tapas joints in the Old City.
In San Sebastian pubs and bars, dozens of assorted pintxos are displayed on la barra. You’ll ask the bartender for a plate and load up on what you want. In some bars, the food is cooked to order and in others, they’ll serve up what you point out – but the method doesn’t matter. It’s all yummy!
While having my little travel meltdown in San Sebastian (more about that later), I spent every night hopping from pub to pub with various friends, commiserating over delicious pintxos. I also discovered a very special drink at my favorite joint, a mix of lemonade and red wine. Sounds crazy, right? Trust me. The Basques know what they’re doing.
So dinner is taken care of every night with the availability of meticulously crafted, tasty pintxos, but what about breakfast? It’s churros y chocolate, baby. Jen & I found some of these perfectly deep fried delights at a shabby diner in Old Town. Dip them in melty chocolate and you can just cash in your chips. This is as good as food gets!
*I decided not to share names of the various restaurants, because honestly, you can’t go wrong. Just walk out the door of your pension and pop into the first place you see with pinxtos. You won’t be sorry!