From Bilbao we boarded a bus for an hour ride through beautiful countryside to San Sebastian. We rented a studio apartment from Airbnb.com in San Sebastian for three nights, located across the street from La Zurriola Beach, the surfing spot. It was 1.5 miles from the bus depot downtown to the apartment; rolling our suitcases next to the river and then along the beach front before we arrived.
Our apartment had a beautiful view of La Zurriola Beach, it was small but in a good location; a bit out of the main action but close enough to walk to Casco Viejo and Concha Beach.
Jon, our host, showed us the place and then recommended the many pinxto bars in the area. All of this was in Spanish so I nodded along while Lauren conversed with him.
Lauren knew all about the gourmet aspect of San Sebastian, and even was aware of many of the pinxto bars Jon recommended. She had a list similar to his. Apparently some of the top chefs in the world have restaurants or cooking schools in San Sebastian. Everything to me was new, so Lauren was happy as a clam choosing where we would go for pinxtos. She was most enthused about what we would eat while I was intrigued to explore a new place.
In the evening we headed over to Casco Viejo, where most of the pinxtos bars are located. It was about a 20 minute walk and as Lauren had been to San Sebastian before she was somewhat familiar with the area. On this trip though she was determined to try as many of the gourmet pinxtos as we could.
Even though it was a Tuesday night places were crowded because it was Santa Semana when students are on a break. Lauren brought out her list leading us to walk around to some less crowded streets. Then she stopped and announced, “A Fuego Negro, I think this is one.” On the outside it was dark, without evidence of a crowd, but once inside there was standing room only. We nudged our way to a tiny piece of the bar huddling between the other customers.
Lauren discovered that we could order made-to-order pinxtos from the menu written on the chalk board on the wall behind the bar. Many of the items were written in Basque and because it was super busy Lauren didn’t want to keep interrupting the bar staff for explanations of the dishes so she just winged it.
At first we safely ordered a salad and then Lauren became more adventurous and ordered something with chicken. When it arrived it was in a tiny glass bowl and I was glad I had eaten a large lunch because this truly was an appetizer that we were sharing. There was lettuce, tiny bits of chicken and small red hearts that I learned were beets. Hmmmm. That’s interesting.
We scarfed down the delicacy in a second or two, Lauren examining the ingredients with each miniscule bite. I was happy drinking my wine and looking around for unoccupied chairs. Then Lauren started laughing. “Mom, what do you think you just ate?” Having decided ahead of time to leave my vegetarian diet back in the States I knew that I might be up for some surprises, but when she put it that way, maybe I didn’t want to know. “Think about it. Red hearts. The name of the pinxto is corizoneeeeee”, she says looking at me as though I’m supposed to know what’s going on. I shrug. “Corizone means heart,” she laughs. “What part of the chicken so you think we just ate?” Let me guess. We stayed up half the night laughing about this. Later we learned that there was an English version of the menu available, and that most of the bar staff spoke English, but it was more adventurous the way we experienced it.
A FUEGO NEGRO – creative concoctions
Three nights in San Sebastian gave us plenty of opportunities to visit several pinxtos bars and sample a variety of dishes.
LA CUCHARA DE SAN TELMO- We tried suckling pig here because it was a specialty.