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I love quotes that add meaning to my life. Here are a few to live by:
Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.
âThe Dalai Lama
Rhubarb is a metaphor for finding happiness in your own backyard.
Buy your snacks from a farmersâ market.
Even when he had a garden in Paris, Thomas Jefferson cultivated Indian corn, âto eat green in our manner, âŠas quickly after it left the stalk as possible.
âEvan Jones, from American Food
From the Sea Cloud to the Cloud Nine of Dining
The Stars of San Sebastian, Spain
By Margo Davis
Margo Davis returns to In the Kitchen with Bronwyn with a story about her recent trip to one of the best places to eat in the world, San Sebastian, Spain. Enjoy her story of Michelin three-star restaurants and cultural icons. Welcome back, Margo!
And, I do not mean Hollywood stars or rocks stars or even the stars that come out at night in the firmament. I am referring to Michelin-starred restaurants. Imagine the surprise when we learned that, in the entire world, no region has as many starred restaurants per square kilometer as Donostia/San Sebastian! It has become a destination for gastronomes.
Delight & Anticipation
My husband and I do not travel to eat but we definitely travel with dining in mind! In May this year, we enjoyed a very special schooner journey around the Iberian Peninsula in the Sea Cloud II with a Stanford Alumni group. We were treated to top rate lectures about the history of Iberia, visits to the Alhambra in Granada and the Alcazar in Sevilla, cathedrals in Lisboa and Santiago de Compostela, and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Picture our delight and anticipation when we realized that we were ending our journey on the Sea Cloud II in Bilbao, Spain, only a few miles from San Sebastian.
Gilding the Lily
The Sea Cloud II is a modern windjammer completed in 2001, modeled on the original 1931 sailing ship, Sea Cloud, which was built for Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress and a founder of General Foods Corporation. The journey on this marvelous elegant ship provided plenty of fine dining for eight days with an excellent German chef and staff. We ate too much and very well. The choice of an extension of our own to San Sebastian after such a voyage was really âgilding the lilyâ!!! BUT, we were so very close to a foodie nirvana.
The Guggenheim Museum
We left the Sea Cloud II in Bilbao, in northern Spain where the Guggenheim Museum perches around the Nervion River. We drove the 66 miles over to Donostia, the Basque name for San Sebastian, a coastal city on the Bay of Biscay only some 15 miles from the French border. Donostia is a paradise of mountains falling into the horseshoe-shaped bay with lovely beaches for swimming and surfing.
116âYear Old Restaurant
Our interest however, was less in the sporting life (maybe we should be indulging in some of this!) and more in the gastronomic fare around us. As I said before, San Sebastian and the region has forged an identity in gastronomy. The artist/chefs are starred and world famous. If you did not know this previously, you will now know that Juan Mari Arzak, the father of Basque Cuisine, is responsible for birthing chefs like El Bulliâs Ferran Adria, now considered one of the most brilliant in the culinary world. Arzak and his daughter, Elena, have their familyâs 116-year old restaurant right here in the city. They shop at the amazing La Bretxa market in the old town (Parte Vieja). They are deeply rooted in their Basque country.
Multi-Starred Night On The Town
Because we had eaten at Arzak many years before, we chose a new venue for our multi-starred night on the town. And a night out it was! I felt like I could have just stopped the search for the ultimate dining experience after the tasting menu at Martin Berasategui. Many guests were snapping photos of their plates, but I just felt that was an invasion of privacy. So, you can find many pictures on Martinâs web site.
Chef Berasateguiâs dishes capture the absolute essence of flavor of whatever he features, be it fois-gras, lobster, pigeon, oysterâŠ you name it. I now dream of a return to Donostia for another meal chez Martin and also to return to Zuberoa, a memorable meal in a 15th century farmhouse in the ancient town of Oiartzun near San Sebastian.
Too Many Restaurants, Too Little Time
For fine dining there are too many restaurants and too little time! Add Akelare, Mugaritz, Mirador de Ulia, Kokotxa, and Alameda and many many more.
There are also some great alternatives to all of this formal fine dining: the tapas barsâŠ San Sebastian style. In fact, this is where one should begin a culinary tourâŠ Â to get an idea of the local ingredients and the local residentâs way of eating. This way you can walk from one small bite to another, working off the calories as you bar hop. You will be arm to arm and cheek to jowl, believe me, with all the locals as well as tourists.
Head For The Old Town
Head for the Old Town (Parte Vieja). The entire parte vieja is filled with small bars with their signature âpintxosâ (the Basque word for tapas), delectable bocadillos, a la plancha with seafood, estafadoes, stews, fritos and more goodiesâŠall different combinations. Cepes (mushrooms), asparagus, roasted peppers and garlic on top of crispy bread, potato salad with tuna, squid, grilled octopus, prawns, etcetera, and so it rollsâŠ on and on and on!
Wash this down with a cerveza corto (short beer) or a txakoli, a light bubbly local white wine. Heaven is just around the corner in your B&B for a Basque-style siesta. Or just wash it down a second time in the salty sea with a swim in the Bay of Biscay.
On egin!Â Buen apetito!Â Buen Provecho!Â
Posted: 8-17-2013SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG’S FEED
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