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Archive for the ‘san sebastian’ Category

Arzak, April 2011

This post was saved as a draft for about 2.5 years…! It refers to a meal we had in 2011…!

Upon our second visit to San Sebastian, we decided to visit Arzak. This was slightly controversial given our devotion to the local restaurants dotted around the old town, but we decided that San Sebastian, where food really is the main event everywhere you go, was the perfect setting for our first three star experience.

We started with a selection of about 5 amuse bouches. They all arrived at once (I would have probably preferred being seduced one by one) but it certainly started things off with a real showcase of different tastes and cooking styles. My favourite was the creamy fig, corn and black pudding mousse which tasted like a very sophisticated custard and was just devine. I also enjoyed the anchovies with strawberries – a more simple dish. We are really starting to like Fish with fruit and this dish was a perfect example. It was also our first experience of a chef using dry ice at the table so that was pretty exciting.

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We chose the tasting menu accompanied by a lovely white wine recommended by the sommelier as a wine that would carry us through most of the menu until the red meat. The first dish, “cromlech”, was my favourite and quite possibly the best foie gras dish I have ever had. It would certainly feature in my ‘greatest hits’ fantasy dinner party tasting menu. We were encouraged to use our hands to eat the two stone-like structures of crispy goodness filled with yummy gooey foie gras. Delicious.

The tasting menu itself was delicious and lots of fun – monkfish at the bottom of the sea being a very cheeky, pretty and tasty dish, with bright blue and red sugary shells to imitate the sea bed on the plate. Juan Mari Arzak came out and spoke with several tables but unfortunately doesn’t speak much English. We did have the pleasure of a little chat with his daughter, now head chef I believe, who is absolutely lovely and explained how she had recently visited London with her father who was honoured with a life time achievement award by the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards. We loved this experience – it certainly set a very high benchmark for three star restaurants we hope to visit on the future! The final touch was that Elena was waiting for us when we left to thank us again for visiting and to say farewell – how sweet.

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La Cepa

At the very next chance you get, go to San Sebastian, go to La Cepa and order a plate (racion) of jamon de jabugo. You should also ask for warm bread to maximise the experience, but it’s not strictly necessary. I don’t expect to eat a better plate of cured ham anywhere else in the world.

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And while you are there, you should also order the hongas a la plancha. Grilled seasonal mushrooms with salt crystals and a lovely gooey egg yolk in the middle. You’ll definitely need bread for this one to mop up all the oily/eggy goodness. Absolutely amazing.

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San Sebastian is one of my favourite places in the world. It’s a beautiful Basque town one hour by bus from Bilbao airport along the North coast of Spain: its beautiful beaches, surrounding hills and friendly locals are reason enough to visit; however this little town has very high standards when it comes to food. I’ve been told that the proportion of michelin stars to the overall population is the highest of any city in the world. But you don’t need michelin purse strings to sample the best of San Sebastian. A night on the narrow cobbled streets of the old town hopping from one pinxos bar to the next, tasting the most delicious food you will ever have, is an unmissable experience. And each place has it’s own special charm: from the traditional La Cepa to the cheeky modern twists of La Fuego Negro. We are pretty certain that we’ll go back every year forever.

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