Eating My Way Through Spain Part 3

We spent the last part of our vacation in San Sebastian.  Per a friend's recommendation we rented an apartment through Friendly Rentals.  Basically the European version of VRBO that we have all used to rent beach homes in the States, this site has apartments of all sizes and in wonderful locations throughout Europe.

We chose the Boulevar Apartment--  A one bedroom apartment in the area of San Sebastian we most wanted to explore, Parte' Veija.



There are so many pros to renting an apartment vs. hotel room.  They are less expensive then most hotels and give you so much more charm.  We shopped at the local markets and stocked up on the essentials:  wine, cheese, water and dt. cokes.  Every evening before heading out we would sit on our terrace and enjoy a glass of wine or two waiting for 10:00 to arrive.  This was the magical hour the spanish decided was dinner time.  I am on board with a lot of spanish customs--long lunches, even longer midday naps and short work days.  But 10:00 for dinner, my stomach never got used to it.

San Sebastian Highlights

Akelare 


Located 20 minutes outside San Sebastian is Akelare, a restaurent like no other.  It sits high above the Bay of Biscay and has the most amazing views.

 Chef Pedro Subijana's main goal is for you to look at food in a way you never have before.  He succeeded!  This was our amuse bouche (This is a small bite served as a free extra to keep you happy while you are waiting for your first course to come. It gives you an idea of the chef's approach to cooking and the restaurant's attention to your appetite.)

"Amenities" amuse bouche
They laid this in front of us and handed us directions on how to eat this.
From left to right, we began by taking the "Onion sponge" and squirting some "Tomato and Basil Gel" onto it. The gel looked identical to a liquid soap but had a distinct tomato and very mild basil flavor whereas the onion sponge had only a mild onion aroma.

We were then advised to take the packet of "Sea Bath Salts" and pop it directly into our mouths. It was actually powdered prawns and the plastic was edible. It was followed by "Idiazabal cheese Moisturiser", which was like a melted cream cheese. Idiazabal is an unpasteurized sheep’s milk cheese from a village in the Goierri Valley in the heart of the Basque region.

To cleanse our palate was a pomegranate and sparkling cava, presented like a cough syrp. The playfulness of the set blew me away.  I had never had food presented in this way and don't know that I ever will again.

If visiting this region Akelare is a must.  I recommend making reservations for the lunch tasting so you can take in the beautiful scenery.

Pintxos (pronounced pinchos)

The typical Spanish culture involves tapas, small dishes usually consumed in one or two bites along with a small glass of beer or wine. The Basque has its own dialect and the tapas are known as pintxos here; the "tx" is pronounced like "ch" so "pintxos" sounds like "pinchos". 

Many of the recommended places that serve pintxos are congregated in the old town, Parte Vieja. Usually bars or taverns, locals order from the bar, grab their small bites and eat it at the bar or on a counter nearby; not all places have a sitting area and some charge higher prices for using them. I recommend ordering only one or two items per location then moving on to the next spot. This worked out quite well for us as we could try out each bar's specialty. 
Bar Borda Berri--my favorite.  Famous for their Mushroom Risotto


Our Favorite Pintxos Bars:

La Cepa
A Feugo Negro
Grandarias Taberna
Borda Berri
Inside Pintxos bar
Plate of Pintxos at Bar Le Cepa


Located a few blocks from our apartment, this restaurant came recommended by Anthony Bordain's show on the Travel Channel, "No Reservations".  This is a cozy restaurant focused on cooking traditional Basque food. The only photo I took was of our bread.  I wanted to steal that little log!
Rye Crackers in log. 


Being so close to French border  we took a day trip to St. Jean de-Luz, Biarritz and Bayonne all wonderful coastal towns.  Definitely recommend this day trip.



Biarritz, France

Biarritz, France

Biarritz, France





Bayonne, France




St. Jean de Luz, France



I can't recommend this region of Spain enough.  We went in October and the weather was similar to Alabama's in fall--sunny days and cooler evenings.

 For more information on San Sebastian and the Basque region check out these articles:
http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/travel/36-hours-in-san-sebastin-spain.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/spain/6081911/San-Sebastian-Spain-gourmet-Basque-country.html


http://www.tripadvisor.com/AllReviews-g187457-San_Sebastian_Donostia_Guipuzcoa_Province_Basque_Country.html

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