I have just returned from a weekend break in San Sebastian where I have gorged myself silly on the local Pintxos! I have been gushing all weekend about how wonderful the food has been and now that I come to write about it, I fear I may fail to convey the heady excitement I encountered in every Tapas bar I entered when faced with all the tantalising treats. Looking back over my photos, most of which do not do the food justice, I am struck by how much I did not capture or even taste!
That is the problem with San Sebastian you see, there is just so much fabulous food crying out to be eaten, every few steps you take, that you cannot hope or expect to sample it all. I have returned home, tired, happy, full and most disappointingly; fat!
San Sebastian is located in the Basque country of Northern Spain and takes just three and half hours for us to drive to from SW France. I have wanted to visit for a long time but this has been my first trip possible since I now feel ready to travel without the kids. Being someone completely obsessed with food, I knew it was going to be a city made for me as it holds more Michelin Stars per square meter than anywhere else in the world. My kinda heaven.
But even aside from all the Michelin starred flamboyance and wizardry, the local bars in San Sebastian offer food that is a visual and gastronomic delight. Pintxos is the Basque style of Tapas and is usually served on small slices of bread and held together with a skewer (Pincho is Spanish for spike). They are individually portioned delicacies and they are usually laid out majestically all over the bars. You are given a small plate on which to help yourself and pile on the all too tempting treats. Then, insanely, they seem to take it on trust when you report back to the bar staff how many of these snacks you actually consumed and then pay! Honestly, its a beautiful thing .perhaps its me but I am pretty sure this system would be abused if it was London!!!!
I am almost lost for words as to how to even start to tell you about all the things I ate. Some traditional; a plate of melt in the mouth Iberico ham, amazing Spanish omelet with anchovies or simple Pimientos de Padron Peppers doused with salt and olive oil. Some innovative; Squid with Onion Marmalade or Iberico Ham with Quails Egg & Parmesan or Prawns wrapped in thick cut bacon with oozy cheese. And some down right spectacular; Foie Frais with Mango, Blackcurrant & Pineapple Puree or Salt Cod Ratatouille with Basil Oil. The list could go on and on.
But what I must say is that I feel I have been on a culinary adventure where I have feasted with my eyes as well as my mouth. I have been inspired and amazed with the Basque creativity, ingredients and craft that is Pintxos. I would recommend San Sebastian to anyone who enjoys eating as it is a vibrant melting pot of gastronomy that I look forward to revisiting very soon.
I am busily beavering away trying to create my own versions of some Pintxos for my next post that I hope will live up to my memories. Until then, Buen Apetito!