My favourite places combined in 1: the food part

A reason besides surfing to visit San Sebastian would be the food!! San Sebastian is for me one of the culinary highlights of Spain and it seems the Michelin guide agreed with me as San Sebastian has the biggest amount of  starred restaurants in 1 city per X  inhabitants. They have for example 3 three Michelin star restaurants (Arzak, Akelare and Martin Berasategui), Rekondo a restaurant with one of the most incredible wine cellars for old Spanish wines you’ll ever see (in the sommelier’s world an institute) and only 15 minute drive of one of the best fish restaurants in the world aka restaurant Elkano (to name a few) . I behaved!! YES I did!! I wanted to try all of these restaurants, but I promised my wife I would take a hold of myself. Now I have the perfect reason to go back with my favourite partner (after my wife) in crime to go to good restaurants aka Carlos 🙂 🙂 (YES Carlito prepare yourself for another trip after our next trip to France 😉 )

Martin Berasategui

So to keep my promise I asked a few Spanish friends of mine which pinxtos (tapas) bars they would advice me to try (THANKS again César and Jaime). In Spain every tapas/pinxtos bar has one or more tapas/pinxtos it is famous for and it therefore is a habit to change bar after having tried their best one(s).The only problem being in our case was that the places we went to had such a great and big selection, that by the time we tried everything we wanted we didn’t feel going to another bar anymore (already ate too much 😦 )… with as exception to one night where we obliged ourselves to do it the Spanish way and move to another bar after 1 pinxto. What my wife on the other hand didn’t always like was the standing up to eat… and the ones where you could sit down were indeed the most popular with most non-Spanish people.

We liked all the tips Jaime and César gave us, but there are always places that are liked more than others…The pinxtos bars we enjoyed the most were Zeruko, Bergara and Zazpi. They were just more special and gave that extra attention to their pinxtos/tapas. This is also why we ate more than once in these places and I think we tried almost everything they had displayed or on the menu (no not greedy). FYI in these Pinxtos bars you can also sit.

Bar Zeruko was the bar with the biggest and most advanced (modern) pinxtos. They didn’t have the classic pinxtos you can find in all the other bars you’ll find in the old part of town. They thought out of the box and tried (and succeeded) with use of local ingredients making special pinxtos and serving them with a little sauce or serving them to get a different eating experience. With the last I mean for example that they serve it like you would get it at a Michelin star awarded restaurant with for example a smoking plate or used special food pairing techniques… hope the pictures below show you what I mean!? If not, just go there and see for yourself 🙂 or look on their facebook page. Do try the Bob-limón as a dessert!!

Zeruko 01

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Bar Bergara on the other hand served more classic refined homemade pinxtos. What made them so special was that you could just taste they were all made with fresh ingredients and sometimes they did give some combinations you wouldn’t immediately expect to be good. Even something as ‘simple’ Iberian ham croquet, where most bars wouldn’t even bother of making them freshly and just buy them “freshly made” Bergara prefers making them themselves… but I’d choose homemade ones over the factory made any day!! They are so much more ‘moelleux’ and tasteful. It of course didn’t stop here… each single pinxtos was a delight to taste! Do try the Bakalao ajoarriero!!

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Bergara 01

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Zazpi was a place we looked up ourselves and was also a big surprise. When we entered we weren’t sure what to expect as unlike in most pinxtos bars at Zazpi there were no pinxtos on the counter yet (besides olives and a tortilla). Again here we tried ALL their pinxtos (or almost) + salted potatoes with garlic mayo 🙂 (no, not the patatas bravas) and still don’t regret it one bit!! We did start of slow with only ordering 2 croquettes to see how they were, but my wife was so greedy she ate both of them 🙂 🙂 No, I’m just kidding… she was just so hungry that I gave mine to her and decided to order all the rest from on the blackboard for me :-). Here again they were able surprise me in the way of serving and the full taste of every pinxtos. My favourite however was the ‘’Cubo de Panceta’ as the taste in some way reminded me a bit of one of my all time favourite dishes Rendang (Indonesian dish)… but everything we got was very tasty no doubt about that.

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The restaurants that are still on my list to try the next time I get to San Sebastian can be found below and are all tips from 2 guys who know their gastronomy and therefore I don’t doubt the level of the list below is exceptional… so if you get to try them before me, let me know 🙂

I was surprised there was such a big bread culture in San Sebastian. I love bread so this made me a happy camper!! With bread culture I mean that they have different kinds of bread in all their bakeries and there were lots of bakeries in San Sebastian. One of our favourites and our fix value for lunch during our stay was “The loaf”. One of those places where you cannot pass without walking in and having the thought you immediately want a piece of bread or cake 🙂 . For our lunch I would always buy some fresh cute ham from a local butcher, one sliced whole-wheat bread (pan integral in Spanish) and as dessert a brownie with nuts… to eat it on the beach… talking about lunch with a view (our view on picture below).  We also ate at Loaf itself once… also very nice I had a BLT sandwich and orange cake and my love had a grilled cheese sandwich.

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The loaf 01   The Loaf

The loaf 03

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San Sebastian is a true paradise for people who like eating as much as I do!!

To be continued….

My favourite places combined in 1

The last few years I’ve explored quit a bit of Spain. Last week it was Basque country time or better San Sebastian. This region/city has been high on my (and my wife’s) list for a while now and in the end met up to all our expectations!! I might even say it is/was one of our favourites if not the favourite in Spain until now. I immediately felt home in San Sebastian!! The only tricky part upon arrival was to get to our hotel as it seemed they had restructured some of the streets and our GPS didn’t know that yet 🙂 … But we got there alive 😉

San Sebastian city

For a long time before our departure for San Sebastian we were not 100% sure that we wanted to go after all… not because of the destination in itself, but rather because of the weather. Apparently San Sebastian or North Spain in general is known for its unpredictable weather and rather in the bad way… either we have been very lucky last week or the talk that is spread around the weather is not true?! We had 7 days of wonderful sunny weather aaaaand got to see Denzel Washington (he was there for the San Sebastian Film Festival) which made the sky even brighter 🙂 :-). We love Denzel!!

Denzel at Zurriola Beach by Zimbio

Walking through San Sebastian feels like you are waling through a city you’ve lived your whole life, it feels like home and in contrast to for example Barcelona felt much cosier. Of course San Sebastian is a lot smaller and has a much more beautiful beach (or even beaches) without big boats and ships passing. The whole time I was also trying to figure out how will I be able to put into words how beautiful this city is and convince everybody go at least go there once in their lives… True I might try to do this in all my blogposts, but that’s just to make it harder for you guys to decide to plan your next trip 😉 no no, when I’m enthusiastic about something there’s no stopping me to try to convince people… usually the first victims I try to convince are my parents 🙂 . This is also why I only write posts about what I liked…

I’m not sure with which city I would be able to compare San Sebastian though. The first ones that pop into my head would be for the home feeling of Antwerp, the beautiful buildings like Torino, a beach that reminds me of Costa Nova (Portugal) or Conil de la Frontera (Andalusia) and the life at night like in Seville. A unique place and a combo of some of my favourite places!!

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The city of San Sebastian can be subdivided in a few parts with the most “important” (or at least the ones where we spend all our time) Gros (where we stayed), Parte Vieja (Old town), Centro, Amara Viejo and Amara Nuevo(In case you want to know all the parts of town). There are 3 city beaches La Concha, Ondaretta and our preferred and in our part town beach Zurriola (also well known with the surfers). It would take you a bit more than 1 hour walking (for me at least) to get from Zurriola to the end of Ondaretta beach… just FYI 🙂 this way you know the distances are not enormous is San Sebastian

Tourist map san sebastian by San Sebastian tourism

La Concha Beach

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Zurriola beach

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During our trip we stayed at the Pension Ondarra in the as mentioned Gros part of town which is the less touristy part of town (so basically a bit calmer and the way we like it 🙂 ). The big difference between a pension and a regular hotel would be that at a pension you can only sleep, so there is no breakfast possibility. Besides that everything is the same. Some might see it as a disadvantage that you can’t have breakfast, but we just had to cross the street for a bakery where we could eat… and if that one wasn’t of our liking (but it was) there were at least 10 bakeries where you can have breakfast in the near area 🙂 . We also saw it as a way to mingle with the locals and do s the locals. It really didn’t bother us. Before I forget I must thank Tom and Veronique for giving this tip!! The fact they only had 5 rooms made it again cozier (and we had a car parking 2 minutes from it only for 10EUR a day) then a regular hotel with +100 rooms. For people who want more luxury and a wonderful breakfast I would advice to go to the Maria Cristina Hotel.

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Pension Ondarra

To be continued ….