San Sebastián – Food Mecca And Designer Pinxtos
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 can’t remember, which festival as there is always an excuse to celebrate in Spain, but we got stuck in the crowds. The worst thing to a foodie, which could happen in this food mecca did happen. I had a stomuch bug! The only thing I could do was eating with my eyes. Something which the locals do all the time. When you start talking to them, they will explain to you that the way to check if the food is up to standards is by looking at the food; ‘eating with the eyes’!
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 Pinxtos. San Sebastian is not only known for its great Pinxtos, but it is 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 quite a well known London pub was down there the following weekend. Is that why there is all of a sudden a hype of slow cooked pigs cheeks on the menu’s in the UK? Did you know, that it has the largest number of Michelin stars per capita. San Sebastián. has been honoured with 19 Michelin stars and I wouldn’t be surprised that the number increases.
So if you thought, that was it, you’re in the wrong! This Basque city is a true celebration of food. It has 200 Pinxtos bars and 170 private food societies serving only 150.000 residents. That is if there weren’t any tourists of course. Since the world has discovered San Sebastián’s huge foodie attraction, many people flock down here to live the good life. Without doubt food is the driving force here for everything.
One of the reasons of the fantastic quality of food in the restaurants and in the bars is, that the locals hardly entertain at home. Houses are expensive here. As one of the local Irish women told us ‘only if I would sell my organs, I would be able to buy a house here’. She opted to live in France, but the locals tend to live in appartments. Not much space to entertain so they like to meet their friends in town. They do sometimes entertain at home, but then only for family or good friends.
The food, culture and social life in San Sebastián is intriguing Over the next weeks I will share a lot of interesting stories with you about this food mecca of Europe. Keep your eyes peeled and hopefully I make you hungry to visit too.