San Sebastian Gourmet Tours
San Sebastian Gourmet Tours is an example of gastro tourism in a city where such a concept makes greatest sense. What most sign-ups have in common is an interest in the culinary life of a city where food and drink, rather than museums and sights, represent an increasingly powerful tourist draw.The Gourmet Tours are organised by San Sebastián Food, an outfit run by an Englishman Jon Warren, and staffed mainly by Basques. The companies base is based within the luxurious Maria Cristina, arguably the grandest of Spain’s grand hotels.
Saturday Market & Pintxo Workshop
.We visited a farmers market outside San Sebastian called La Bretxa to shop for fresh Basque ingredients for the pintxo-making class.
Across from the market was the show kitchen where we spend the rest of the morning learning the art of the pintxo – the Basque refinement of the Spanish tapa, which San Sebastián has taken to the heights of global gastronomic fame. (Pintxo means thorn or spike, a reference to the cocktail sticks or skewers often used to hold them together.) Following a demonstation we whip up a pintxo feast of ventresca y anchoa ( tuna,peppers & anchovy on toast ), gildas ( a Basque classic of pickled peppers, anchovy and olives all packed on to a cocktail stick), Huevos con gambas (prawns & hard boiled eggs), Anchoas Rebozadas (fresh anchovies) , tuna steaks and baby squid. This was great fun.
An important part of the San Sebastian Gourmet tour is the evening Pintxo crawl. Led by Lourdes, our cosmopolitan group hit the Parte Vieja (old town), where innumerable pintxo bars await. At Goiz-Argi on the Calle Fermin Calbetón they pour us big glasses of txakoli. This Basque white wine, once regarded as a thin and acid plonk, has recently improved and become wildly fashionable. “Broscheta de gambas!” the cry goes up, and out of the kitchen comes Goiz-Argi’s famous skewer of prawns, sizzled on the plancha and coated in a deliciously oily vinaigrette, plus a plate of local green peppers called Guindillas y pimientos de Padron. Pintxo culture is about being on foot and on the move so we did not linger for long. At Egosari, Calle Fermín Calbetón we tried Brocheta de Rape (monkfish skewer) and Gulas (false baby eels) which became a firm favourite of mine. Queso de Idiazabal (local sheep´s milk cheese) and Verdejo wine followed. Zeruko is a masterpiece of modern Basque pintxos. The colours and atmosphere are unreal. The quality and variety for just one restaurant is astoundingly vast. I tried Calle Pescaderí, La Hoguera (cod bonfire), Queso de cabra (goat cheese and apple) and Rueda wine. Gandarias, 31 de Agosto the Solomillo (tender loin of beef) was memorably tender and tasty, and the Jamón de Bellota (Iberian ham toast) and Valserrano Rioja crianza were great. At La Cuchara de San Telmo, calle 31 de Agosto the Carrilleras (veal cheeks) were epic as was the Ravioli de pato (duck ravioli) and Glorioso Rioja crianza. Being the lover of desserts that I am, the highlight of the tour was the Tarta de queso (cheese cake) at La Viña, Calle 31 de Agosto . If I was to do the tour again I would start here.
A most enjoyable, memorable, foodie, cultural And informative experience