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San Sebastian - Donostia 2023


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This might be TL. In that case, DR.

One of the more fun ways to get to San Sebastian (if you're already on the continent, I guess) is via the high speed train. From Paris, for example, the train takes about 4.5 hours, though there is a little quirk in that the train you take from Paris only goes as far as Hendaye, which is on the border with Spain. Hop (or crawl) off the TGV high-speed rail, and onto the Eusktren, and you're in San Sebastian in another 30 minutes. Even though flying from Paris to San Sebastian is much faster, getting to the airport, getting from the airport, dealing with security, luggage, etc. etc. I find the train much more roomy and relaxing. 


Heading into Basque country...


It's pretty beautiful.  And for this trip, we almost pulled out all the stops, staying in one of the nicer hotels, in one of the nicer rooms. Which afforded this view, of one of the most beautiful cities we've been lucky enough to visit...


La Concha.


The view was actually quite similar to the view we had from an AirBnB on our last trip, but said AirBnB was unavailable this time.

I love the beach writers and artists; some of the most ephemeral writing  and art around.




Lasts only as long as the tides allow!

One of the "issues" we faced during our stay in San Sebastian was that a number of the places I'd planned to dine at were actually not available.  Not because they were booked. Rather...


They were "cerrados por vacaciones." Bastardos!  Also, I have no idea who that person is, but she was following me everywhere! 

Not to worry - we were still able to dine regally, and on our first night, we certainly did...


At Gerald's Bar, new to us, but not new...


Kind enough to give us a menu in English (have you tried to read Basque?!). We were hungry.


And wanted to compare the paté with some we'd had in Paris.  Maybe it was even better here?


Grilled leeks and pears...amazing what some heat will do for a pear. This was simple and fantastic. Significant Eater quite enjoyed her tagliatelle (chef trained in Italy for a while, and this was a great, house made tagliatelle).  On the other hand...


My pork chop, from a pig raised on the hills above Getaria, was astounding.  Tasting better than it looks...


Postre. Mas pera. Believe me when I say if we could get a meal like this, at this price here in the states, I might be ecstatic. (We can't, so I won't be).


After a fair amount of rain in Paris, it was lovely to see and enjoy the sun in San Sebastian for 2 days, though the rains came here eventually.

Gandarias is fine for what it is, old school (with both a pintxo bar and a sit-down restaurant), open on Sunday night, not closed for vacation, and pretty good food.  We'd had a good time once before, so off we went...


Delicious pig products.


Shrimp from Huelva, simply cooked on la plancha. Sweet as can be.


Para mí, a big hunk of lamb shoulder, with crispy skin - oh man, this was good.  Para ella...


Rodaballo with lotta garlic, and no one in Basque country is shy with olio!  Beautifully cooked fish.  Did I mention it started to rain, after 2 days of almost perfect weather?


That doesn't mean it isn't still gorgeous, and a faint rainbow even appears every now and then!


This is the Urumea River, which can get angry looking when it's stormy.  It sometimes gets surfed by crazy people.


So how was this trip different from our previous trips to San Sebastian?  The one big difference was that we stayed in a hotel, which is not generally how we operate. The hotel also offered quite a lovely breakfast, which we indulged in.  That meant lunch wasn't always necessary, and it also reduced our pinxtos intake, as we wanted to enjoy somewhat fancier meals in the evening.  However, it didn't stop us from enjoying a great lunch at a place I'd be clued into from a previous AirBnB host, located within the sparkling Merkatua San Martin. It's called Maun Grill Bar, and two guys cook and serve fabulous food out of their tiny, well-appointed (kitchen geeks would enjoy this place!) space




Grilled and braised artichokes and celery were so different and delicious.


Getting the most flavor out of this tomato salad, by torching it. Great idea.


Scallops roasted in their shells, with their roe and a spicy ginger-y sauce thing.


Carabineros, simply grilled.  One for each of us, though I might've eaten another; they're just so good.  This all kept us well sated until dinner at Antonio Boulevard  (we did indulge in Antonio Bar's, a separate location not in the old town, pinxtos on Tuesday).


Tuna belly, piparras, pimento, anchovy on toast, drowned in olive oil. 


More artichoke hearts, this time with jamón.


A favorite were the clams and rice with green sauce.  Here's where I learned that I am probably overcooking my Spanish rices by a little - all the rice we had in Spain was a bit more al dente than I have been able to achieve, but I'm working on it.


I didn't realize that their "famous" meatballs (quite good) would come with potatoes, and we ordered a side of potatoes as well. Note the salad, similar to every other green salad we had in Basque country; i.e.: lettuce and onion.  I think we've had enough, no?


OK - maybe a wee bit of queso to finish. Lovely, casual meal. 

Our final night in San Sebastian was not to be so casual, and off we walked to a restaurant which had been recommended to us by the chef pictured above, at Maun Grill Bar. It would be Casa 887, whose chef is from Brazil and where the cooking is slightly more fusion-y (but only slightly).




The amuse was almost classic, more tuna!


Red tuna "nigiri." Just great.


Pork gyoza, served in the style of Mission Chinese Food.


"Glass peppers" drowned in olive oil.


Significant Eater had to have some more rice, this time with those great red prawns from Huelva. Wow.


And I had the special wild sea bass, which was rightly cooked and right up my alley.  I'm pretty sure we drank dessert here, along with a scoop or two of ice cream. Great find, and I'm glad to have asked chef at Maun Grill for some recommends.

As mentioned, it rained, but that never stops us from wandering. It's only water, after all (and we don't use umbrellas!).


Decisions, decisions.

Gotta walk to get coffee...


Whether it's at Old Town Coffee Roasters, or...


Simona Specialty Coffee.

Here's our hotel in the rain.  We stayed at the very top, in a room with a private terrace.


The rain keeps a lot of people off the beach, though some hearty Basques were swimming every day...


And even though the view from our room when it was raining wasn't too bad...


When the sun broke through, it was even prettier...


On our final night's walk back to our hotel...


Might be Jupiter.  Till next time...


Oh - I forgot to show this...


Couple pushing a baby stroller into Casa 887 on our final night.  That's either a very ugly baby...or...a fucking dog!

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