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San Sebastian, March 2008


Daniel
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I was in San Sebastian just a few weeks ago. Mugaritz is an excellent place and I enjoyed it more than Arzak. I went for a trip to France and visited some wonderful little Basque towns, but i did this because there was a general strike called for that day by the Basque seperatists so not alot was open that day in San Sebastian and I did not regret going. France's border is so close and the town of E'spellete (sp?) is close too...they are famous for thier red dried peppers and the town is very quaint. While you are in San Sebastian go to a cider house just on the outskirts..I had a great time, the food is simple but you get to taste all the cider from the different casks. The one i went too is called Gartziategi. Lot's of good suggestions above from others for pintxos and really exploring the different bars through the old center is part of the charm of San Sebastian. Out by the University there are a few restaurants being opened by younger chefs branching out, one of them is called Agorregl, food was good and a nice looking joint.

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I would like to add my voice for "Mugaritz." Incredible culinary experience. I went to MB last November and I cannot recommend it. Great service but a very deja eaten experience.

One of the dishes mentioned above "Lettuce hearts soaked in Vanilla brine" (their essay on salads), a dressing of balsamic vinegar and country milk skins can be seen gallery_47955_5777_448663.jpg

Among other experiences not to be had anywhere else:

"Roasted Scallops and Tubers" covered with amaranth, slices of sweet acorn and winter purslane with a clay and truffle juice dressing:

gallery_47955_5777_455235.jpg

"Coated with an infusion of Crushed sesame seeds" and milk skin, confit of loin of blue mackerel:

gallery_47955_5777_379342.jpg.

I have more pics if someone is interested, and I am going back in May/June. You should really try to go.

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Daniel with 14 days I would absolutely do some day trips in the least. Bilbao is an easy drive and the Guggenheim is great as is the restaurant inside. We also loved our day trip to St Jean de Luz just across the border in france.

We found typical breakfast in SS to be croissant and cafe. There are great kitchen supply stores in the Parte Veija that we found lots of interesting things to bring home at fantastic prices.

One of our favorite pintxos places for lunch was Bar San Marcial. Ormazabel was our favorite at night in Parte Veija.

have fun! take the funicular :)

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I would like to add my voice for "Mugaritz."  Incredible culinary experience.  I went to MB last November and I cannot recommend it. Great service but a very deja eaten experience.

One of the dishes mentioned above "Lettuce hearts soaked in Vanilla brine" (their essay on salads), a dressing of balsamic vinegar and country milk skins can be seen gallery_47955_5777_448663.jpg

Among other experiences not to be had anywhere else:

"Roasted Scallops and Tubers" covered with amaranth, slices of sweet acorn and winter purslane with a clay and truffle juice dressing:

gallery_47955_5777_455235.jpg

"Coated with an infusion of Crushed sesame seeds" and milk skin, confit of loin of blue mackerel:

gallery_47955_5777_379342.jpg.

I have more pics if someone is interested, and I am going back in May/June.  You should really try to go.

Beautiful photos, Lenski. Yes, please, I would love to see more!

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok so this is an email I just received from my wonderful girlfriend.. She is the planner and a really good one at that.. I am just going to cut and paste the email in its original form.. :biggrin:

Dear Daniel,

the most handsome, caring, giving, wonderful guy I know..

If not for you, my sky would fall

Rain would gather, too

Without your love Id be nowhere at all

Id be lost, if not for you

Ahem...

"56 hours and counting....

Here is our schedule:

Friday, March 21st:

ARRIVE IN SAN SEBASTIAN AT 10:30am

dinner: Arzak (9pm)

Saturday, March 22nd:

lunch: Mugaritz (1:30pm)

dinner: ?

Sunday, March 23rd:

lunch: Extebarri

dinner: Any great restaurant in the Bilbao area that will be open on Easter?

Monday, March 24th:

lunch: ?

dinner: ?

Tuesday, March 25th:

lunch: Extebarri (yes, yes....a second lunch reservation....)

dinner: Any great restaurant in the Bilbao area that shouldn't be missed?

Wednesday, March 26th:

lunch: Arzak (1:30pm)

dinner: ?

Thursday, March 27th:

lunch: Akelare

dinner: ?

Friday, March 28th:

lunch: Kursaal (1pm)

dinner: ?

Saturday, March 29th:

lunch: ?

dinner: ?

Sunday, March 30th:

lunch: ?

dinner: ?

Monday, March 31st:

11:45 flight back to the USA

As you can see we've left almost every dinner spot free. We really plan on doing the tapas bar hopping for our daily dinners. Below is a list of places, along with what we believe their specialties to be. Please let me know if we're missing any!"

Bar Bergara

Ganbara

Astelana

fishcakes

La Cuchara De San Telmo

all foie gras dishes, trotters, sweetbreads, snouts

Casa Gandarias

foie toast, solomillos

Espaldita

Alona Berri

cod tapas, mushroom cakes with gizzards

Txepela

anchoives with spider crab, anchoives with sea urchin

Bara Casa Senra

mushroom mousse with ceps, all meats and cheese

A Fuegro Nero

La Cepa

Casa Vergara

Ormazabel

Bar San Marcal

Lagar

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Daniel, that sounds like a great trip. My cap is doffed!

I'd be interested to hear your views on Arzak vs. Akelare vs. Mugaritz, especially for those who might be inexperienced in cutting edge cuisine. I'm looking for one big meal for a group in June, and while I obviously want something mindblowing, I don't want to choose intellectual/cerebral over tasty.

In any case, I'm looking forward to your report.

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We just returned from a similar trip: some thoughts and comments

We had trouble thinking about a lunch at >100E so we did dinner at Mugaritz, Arzak and Akelare and did the bar crawl for dinner. In general we liked this ince we finished eating at 1-2am. However, Mugaritz and Akalera have wonderful rooms and the view at Akelare looks to be wonderful which we missed at night.

Akelara: my favorite. the combination fo the terroir of the ingrediants, technique and flavors were spot on.

For the bar crawl, either look at whats laid out, bite and run or ask for the menu since most have many good things cooked to order. We took everyone recommendations from the various threads, tried everything we could (trying to limit ourself to Spain on 15,000 calories a day) and would agree with most recommendations. It all ends up in a blur but first I would recommend brushing up on Spainish food lingo since many places speak little to no English.

Astelana: three words, foie ala plancha

Alona Berri: try most everything from the menu and on the recommendation board

Txepela: there display food looks bad (maybe beacues it is plastic) but do not let that stop you from ordering all things anchoives.

La Cuchara De San Telmo: offal of all kinds

A Fuegro Nero: nicer bar with less classical items but very good.

Wine: plenty and reasonable but most places will pour a house wine unless you ask (and many have very noce by the glass selections).

At Arzak, we had a wine from Bierzo (it was a special selection from Peique). This wine was the best we had on this trip. The Bierzo DO is starting to get hot and this wine shows why.

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Daniel, that sounds like a great trip. My cap is doffed!

I'd be interested to hear your views on Arzak vs. Akelare vs. Mugaritz, especially for those who might be inexperienced in cutting edge cuisine. I'm looking for one big meal for a group in June, and while I obviously want something mindblowing, I don't want to choose intellectual/cerebral over tasty.

In any case, I'm looking forward to your report.

Simon - I took 5 "non-foodie" friends to Mugaritz for lunch last September and was a little fearful that they would be challenged by the "cerebral" food. I am glad to report we had a cracking meal which everyone enjoyed, it lasted from 1:00 to 5:30 and was aided by the excellent sommelier who quickly got our measure and paired some really interesting wines with the tasting menu. She put together a great selection of well priced wines that were very interesting.

A couple of years ago my partner and I ate at Arzak and Akelare and again enjoyed both meals, at the time they were more traditional. Mugaritz had more talking points on its menu - although I am certain the others menu's will have changed over the years. The same group of us ate at The Fat Duck last month and all felt Mugaritz was in the same league albeit without the theatrics.

Edited by PhilD (log)
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Just for a quick update.. IN San Sebastian and having a wonderful time eating our way through.. I just wanted to comment on how good 'cuchara de san telmo' is.. The lechon asada was some of the best pork i have ever had.. My first piece was served with the tail attached.. Lots of foie being served at all of the places.. And I am talking 2 to three ounce pieces on toast or with mushrooms, or served in crepes that are fried for like 2 to 3 euros... Really cool spots.. we are thinking of traveling to pasajes san juan today to try a couple of restaurants that have been recommended.. Trintxerpa and Izkina are a couple of places mentioned..

Thanks for everyones help..

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Just for a quick update.. IN San Sebastian and having a wonderful time eating our way through.. I just wanted to comment on how good 'cuchara de san telmo' is.. The lechon asada was some of the best pork i have ever had.. My first piece was served with the tail attached.. Lots of foie being served at all of the places.. And I am talking 2 to three ounce pieces on toast or with mushrooms, or served in crepes that are fried for like 2 to 3 euros... Really cool spots.. we are thinking of traveling to pasajes san juan today to try a couple of restaurants that have been recommended.. Trintxerpa and Izkina are a couple of places mentioned..

Thanks for everyones help..

I'm jealous!

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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uni soup. the need for salmon eggs gives you a feel for the dish..

"Puffy es bien y todos, pero wu-tang esta para los ninos.."

Translation : Since when does uni done properly need help tasting like the sea.. It was good and all but, besides being served in a shell, it could have been any fish based soup..Certainly good though.

2362978838_6df4dbe7be.jpg

Edited by Daniel (log)
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These are aged for three years so the outside is black and they are a third of the size.. Alot of the moisture is gone... By no means is it dry.. Perhaps more fatty..

Hmmm.. Bring home my clothes or pack 3 legs... Clothes or legs, legs or clothes...

2362924218_cffec95e54.jpg

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daniel, thank you so much your great photos and report.

i will be in san sebastian and bilbao in june.

as i won't be travelling by car i was wondering if it's

possible to reach extebarri by either public transport (which i doubt)

or taxi?

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Honestly speaking, we rented a car and hit the road.. We are now down in Rioja staying in some castle about a 10 minute walk away from two of our favorite wine producers... We are thinking about not going back to san sebastian and having our things sent...

We are now in the town of Haro..

Here is a steak house from San Sebastian... In Spain you see Chullates sp? in a lot of places... As Yonatan described, before several glasses then bottles of wine, its steak from an older cow... It is cooked a perfectly bloody medium rare... And its fantastic...

2363783200_d5d8e8c321_b.jpg

This would not be allowed back home. Meat just sitting on the counter...Amazingly we all lived...Health department is muy mal..

2363906276_572ec7499d.jpg

Steak:

2363903360_2645ca5e49.jpg

The steak is more tough then a steak from a younger animal.. However, the little piece of fat on the end adds the texture and burst of flavor that really makes this cut and style special...

2363900906_9c01fcff51.jpg

A wonderful bottle of red:

2367798607_4f58df2f4b.jpg

Some cheese and wonderful membrillo.. Better here then obviously anywhere i have tried...you could roll it in sugar and eat it like candy..

2363908148_2247dc7b5f.jpg

2362949257_c347664737.jpg

Mmmmm almost as good as starbucks...They dont even know what venti means... They are so backwards here..

2362939513_9e7be4e46e.jpg

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Lucky Bastard! :angry:

Looks muy delicioso. Was there any semblance of urchin flavor in that soup at all? Was it expensive?

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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I love Gandarias. Fantastic service, and they sell Belondrade (beautiful white wine) by the glass... Mmmm

me too... like a one trick pony I drank the Belondrade y Lurton only at Gandarias for the 4 days we were there....interesting husband and wife wine!

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La tupina it was.. We had a nice dinner there.. A pretty shady walk back to the hotel filled with young drunk/drugged kids, peep shows, and shwarma shops.. We quickly realized we were in a city and not some picture perfect postcard.

Edited by Daniel (log)
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