San Sebastián – Michelin stars and designer pintxos
I have just come back from a short break to a city I fell in love with about 25 years ago. I was exploring the North coast of Spain with a friend, and our first stop was San Sebastián. It was in the heights of summer. I was really looking forward to eat my way around San Sebastian, but it wasn’t meant to be. I had a stomach bug. The worst nigtmare for a foodie when you are in one food meccas in the world.
Michelin stars and pig cheeks
San Sebastián or Donostia to the locals in Basque is for many people, just another city on the coast in Northern Spain, but for me, it means fabulous Tapas. Or as they are known here Pintxos. San Sebastian is not only known for these delicious small bites, but it is also the part of Spain with a great abundance of good quality local food. If you love food, then this is the place to head off to. It’s paradise and listed high up on the ranks for top chefs to visit for inspiration. Even if you’re not a Michelin star chef, this is the place to visit. When we visited, we were told that the staff of a well known London pub was down there the following weekend for research. That explains probably why slow-cooked pig cheeks are now very popular in the UK? San Sebastián has been honoured with 19 Michelin stars, and I wouldn’t be surprised that the number increases.
Pintxos bars and private societies
So if you thought, that was it, you’re in the wrong! This Basque city is a true celebration of food. It has 200 Pintxos bars and 170 private food societies serving only 150.000 residents. That is if there weren’t any tourists. Since the world has discovered San Sebastián’s huge foodie attraction, many people flock down here to live a good life. Without a doubt, food is the driving force here for everything.
Meeting up over a glass of wine
You might wonder why the locals like to meet up over a glass of wine and a bite to eat in one of the bars rather than at home. Houses are expensive here. As one of the local Irish women told us ‘only if I could sell my organs, I would be able to buy a house here’. She opted to live in France instead. The locals tend to live in apartments. So they don’t have a lot of space for entertaining, so instead they meet their friends in town. Everybody has their favourite bars so they hop from bar to bar to meet their friends.
The food, culture and social life in San Sebastián are fascinating. Watch this space as I will sharing more delicious stories of one of my favourite foodie destinations in the world.