Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Raindrops on Pintxos in San Sebastian, Part 1

After flirting with the idea of a roadtrip from Dijon, France (my future home, more details to come) and Santiago de Compostela (my current home)-imagining picnics in vineyards and walled midievil cities in France and beach upon beach and culinary heaven on the Cantabrian coast of Spain-this year's European adventure was cut to the second leg of the original idea-a week long road trip from the mountainous coast of San Sebastian to the green hills of Galicia with Diego, my bestie and her man. 

Diego and I set off from Santiago and made it all the way to San Sebastian in a short 8 hours, a pitstop in Burgos to see some friends there for lunch was the perfect break. The drive was a geographical history lesson, passing through the fortress of green hills that seperated Galicia from Castilla for hundreds of years, following the flat golden fields of the Castillian Camino de Santiago, and reaching the jutting spires of green mountains and long tunnels that have seperated the Basque country from the rest of Spain for hundreds of years. Just the drive in itself is enough to understand how the autonomous languages and cultures of Spain have remained seperate and strong-the thought of travel through these parts without national highways, bridges, tunnels, and a car even just 100 years ago is incredible. 
Basque Country
We arrived to San Sebastian about sunset, and headed up Mount Igueldo to the campsite where we had reserved two nights. A long line of campers, speaking German, Spanish, French, and English, sat waiting to make their reservation. We were happy to have called ahead knowing we would have a place to sleep. After about 40 minutes we got to our campsite set up the tent, and headed back down the mountian into the city. 

Without a map, just a small guidebook and the help of a few San Sebastianites we made our way to the old town and the world famous Pintxos-the Basque Country has more Michelin stars than any other part of Spain. Being Monday night, there wasn't much going on in the city, but looking into the pintxo bars the array of beautifully arranged plates overflowing with little Basque style hors d'ourves was making us hungry. After a stroll around we picked a bar called Iskiña-probably the best place we tried while we were there. An animated waiter explained to us how the system worked-ask for a plate, fill the plate with whatever you want, show the waiter the plate when you have finished (to heat up anything that needs to be warm and keep track of your tab) and enjoy. Our favorites were the most amazing perfectly melted Croquetas de Jamon, and the Cod specialties Bacalao Pil Pil-melt in your mouth garlicy goodness (and it must be said I usually don't like Bacalao) and Bacalao a la Vizcayana-delcious tomato peppery sauce with shredded bacalao-warm and delicious. A few cañas and two plates later we headed to see Playa de la Concha where in September Hollywood stars pose at the Donostia Film Festival, and the lights of the city and the mountians lining the beach were sparkling. We headed back up Igueldo for the night, ready to pick up our guests bright* and early at the train station the next morning. 

(click on the links in the text for travel info and recipes)


Nancy said...

Everything sounds so wonderful!

Lisli said...

I freaking adore San Sebastian. So beautiful. I made it a point to visit twice during my semester abroad in Salamanca.

Mickey said...

It sounds amazing! I can't wait to visit again. I can taste the crouquettes! yummmm

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