Tapas have been part of Spanish culture for many years. Today “tapas” is a food concept that stands for fun, drinks and sharing food with friends. Back in the 20th century the Andalusian habbit slowly gained more popularity all over Spain , I you might even call it a food revolution that took over Spain and maybe even the entire world. To think it all started like a little piece of food to go with you glass of wine like olives or a slice of ham??!! Nowadays this has changed into a table full of little plates with which you take a glass of wine 🙂 🙂 Today besides the “traditional” tortilla, patatas bravas, etc..; chef also try to be more creative and you get the feeling you’re eating 3 Michelin starred dishes.
I have travelled quite a bit in Spain and for me the best “Tapas” Can be found in San Sebastian. In most other places I found that most tapas were deep-fried or very fat, whereas in San Sebastian I found more creative and refined ones. Not that I mind eating a ‘classic’ patatas brava once in a while, but not every day. The world famous Spanish chef Ferrán Adriá calls the tapas the best Spanish (gastronomical) export product, which is most certainly is. If now people are serving lots of little plates of food or going to a restaurant where they serve little dishes that are to be shared..; everybody always refers to it as “Tapas style”… I find it remarkable that in such a short period of time it gained so much success. I also would be surprised it would become a new word in the dictionaries 🙂 in all languages.
Tapas exist out of 3 essential basic elements: Quality of ingredients, taste and the ambiance of the location. Although it must be said that the “social aspect” like good company, etc… of Tapas experience is becoming the most important. A few weeks ago I was invited in Brussels to celebrate the Day of the Tapas. For this celebration Michelin star chef Iván Cerdeño (Carmen de Montesión ). What he brought was the classics in a revisited version… I can only say that what he served was again great example of the top level of Spanish gastronomy!!
I know it seems strange that an Italian writes about Spanish food, but I’m a big Tapas (or Spanish cuisine for that matter) lover and I’m not afraid to say it 🙂 !!! It are also our Spanish friends like the Roca brothers (El celler the can Roca) and before them the Ferrán brothers (El Bulli) that changed the entire world of Gastronomy! Let’s not forget that!! Spanish kitchen today stands for innovation and refinement.
If you would like to know some spots where I enjoyed eating Tapas all over Spain, please following link
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 😉
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!!
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!!
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
La Concha Beach
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.
To be continued ….