Skip to main content

SAN SEBASTIAN/DONOSTIA, SPAIN: A FOODIE VACATION (TRIGGER WARNING: FOOD PORN)

The desire to travel in Europe during our active retirement years partly drove our decision to live here in the south of France. Mystery Vacations are a novel way that we have devised to fulfill that desire. Each year, I choose a place to go, make all of the arrangements, and only tell Cathey what the weather will be like at our destination and the type of attire that might be appropriate. Amazingly, she trusts me.

Last year. we spent a long weekend attending the International White Truffle Festival in Alba, Italy. This year, we dove into the distinctive culinary delights of San Sebastian/Donostia, Spain. Given Cathey's pleased expressions, I guess that the planning and execution of the two trips were worth the effort.

Below find a few pics and some commentary concerning our four days and three nights on the Spanish Coast. If I were to pick favorites, I would recommend Hidalgo 56 in Donostia for a pinxtos luncheon and Gandarias in San Sebastian's Old Town for supper. But there's so much good food in those towns, it's hard to pick a loser. And everyone that's been there has their own favorites. Here's a tip. Go early for lunch to avoid crowds at the best pinxtos bars. And you had better believe that dinner restaurants require reservations.

Donostia taken from the San Seabastian side...

View form the balcony of our rental in Donostia...

Cathey's Pinxtos from Hidalgo 56. Just walk down the bar - see below - and pick what looks tasty. Well, they ALL look tasty.

My choices at Hidalgo 56.

The secret is to go early, as they are setting up for lunch. We arrived at one popular place at 1pm and there wasn't a seat to be had, inside or out. But at 11:30...

The anchovies at Gandarias were divine as was the spider crab salad, the roast suckling pig, the lamb, and the tart below..

Cathey's perfectly constructed salad.

Roast piglet complete with cracklin', fork tender.

Lamb sliced thin and seared hot and fast.

Unbelievable chocolate tart...

Separatists marching in sympathy to the Catalans.They beat their pots and pans, blew their whistles, and, for a brief moment, blocked traffic...and our taxi. But the full-gear riot police talked and persuaded instead of being hostile. All good.

The fare at Bodega Donostiarra was more like tapas than pinxtos.

What follows is the fare at two white tablecloth, sparkling silver and crystal restaurants. The food was fresh, respected, and interestingly prepared. The two restaurants were Ikaitz Restaurant in Donostia and Astelena 1997 in Old Town.

Ikaitz Restaurant anchovies with interesting dots of sauces to swab.

Tower of slices of duck breast with roasted leeks

I think that the fish was hake.

Fish soup that Cathey says was closer to bouillabaisse than the shellfish-broth based soup that we get in the south.

Menu said Black Pudding. I asked if that was boudin. The waitress acted surprised, I think because she may not have expected an American to use that term.

Comments

  1. Hi, I've started a forum for expats, it's still in its early days but I hope to make it popular. If you ever want to promote your blog there you're more than welcome. https://inspiredexpat.forumotion.com/

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

CHÉ OLIVE / LE ZINC, CREISSAN: RESTAURANT REVIEW

No, it's not Chez Olive. It is indeed Ché complete with red star and black beret. I have no idea why and I wasn't about to ask. The French are the French and not to be analyzed too closely when it comes to politics, especially these days.

Creissan is the next town over from our village of Quarante. We pass through it often and Ché Olive is right there on the main road at the entrance to town. (One of the signs still says Le Zinc. Olive says he prefers Ché Olive though.) Olive opened it a couple of years ago after leaving the Bar 40, Quarante's basic local watering hole that's undergone a bit of a renaissance lately. We hadn't heard much about Ché Olive from our usual sources for dining recommendations. So we just kept passing by. For reasons not central to this review, we decided to stop in for lunch on a mid-week in late December.

The bar is cozy, the restaurant open and bright and modern. Newly renovated and perhaps a bit sterile. We were the first…

RESTAURANT ETIQUETTE IN FRANCE: SIMPLE PRIMER (WITH TONGUE IN MY AMERICAN CHEEK)

My recent reading of a poor internet review of a favorite restaurant of ours prompted this post. Some people simply should not be allowed internet access. Speech may rightly be free, but it shouldn't be worthless.

From reading the review, I could determine that the reviewer was a tourist who started out in a bad mood because he had to pay extra for parking a camper van that exceeded the maximum height for parking in the free lot. His party arrived at the restaurant at the end of lunch and without a reservation. At first, he was told that an empty table that he pointed out was reserved. When he persisted, he was informed that lunch was over. Since none of the other restaurants in town were still open, the reviewer had to miss lunch.

Let me count the ways...

RESERVATIONS ARE NECESSARY. Maybe not at Burger King, maybe not in a touristy restaurant in a touristy destination. But if you are really hungry, if you really want to try that restaurant that everybody's talking about, or …

FRENCH VISA AND HEALTH INSURANCE FOR AMERICANS

The most expensive item in an American family's budget may be health insurance. But many Americans have no understanding of the true cost of their insurance because it's included in their employment package. Folks simply don't think about how much their employer may be reducing their salaries when factoring in insurance costs.

Before I retired, my employer paid for my health insurance but I had to pay to insure my wife. The cost, taken out of my every paycheck, came to about $6,000 annually. And even with insurance, there were co-pays and other out of pocket expenses. We were reasonably healthy (and still are, knock wood), but we each take a few common prescription medications - for blood pressure and cholesterol and the like, nothing exotic or costly. Even so, with regular visits to the doctor, periodic lab work, the drugs, and the occasional illness or injury, we normally spent an additional several thousand dollars annually in the States over and above the cost of the i…