Category Archives: San Sebastián

Bilbao Pintxos

At 12 pm on September 14, 2012, we were woken up by somebody knocking on the door.  It was the girl at the Airbnb place saying that check out was 12 pm, but we could stay 30 minutes to pack – we had to go since there was somebody else coming to stay soon.  Somehow we slept 10 hours.  Must have been the pinxtos overload from the night before!

We packed everything up and said bye.  Then, we dropped off our backpacks at the car.

It was time for pintxos for lunch.  Our first stop was at La Mejillonera and thank goodness it was actually open!.. with this being the fourth time we tried.  Ivan and I shared papa bravas (patata bravas) and mussels tigres.  The papa bravas are the best in San Sebastian…so we were told..and seeing as a) they were pretty good and b) they were the ONLY potato bravas we had in San Sebastian, we would probably tend to agree!!!


The papa bravas had a delicious spicy sauce (definitely the best sauce I’ve had with patata bravas), but I wish the potatoes were crunchier.  The mussels were great with a tomato sauce.  Lil Dave asked the chef to make banana bravas and he liked it with their sauce.  This place actually has calarmari bravo which I’m assuming tastes good as well.

The second pintxos bar was La Txepetxa where Ivan and I shared anchovies with blueberries and anchovies with salmon and onion.  The salmon and onion one was tasted better.

Our last stop was A Fuego Negro. 


We got freezing gazpacho, black and white quinoa with cucumber and apple and cod’s curd with honey powder.  The freezing gazpacho was like an otter pop (frozen snack).  The food was once again delicious and inventive.

We went to Naturally for more great frozen yogurt.

Ivan started driving us at 1 pm towards Bilbao, Spain.  It took an hour to reach the new city. 

We parked in the street near the Airbnb apartment.  The apartment wasn’t easy to find.. we weren’t even sure we had the right apartment when we rang different ones.  The dude who lived in the place hadnt really put his correct info into the Airbnb listing.

Ivan found some internet and talked to the guy via Skype (we lost our cell phone somewhere along the way in Spain). He said he’d meet us outside of the apartment.  We said hi to him and Ivan asked about the parking.  He said we should move the car to the street right next to his apartment since it’s free.

Ivan and I wanted to check out the Guggenheim Museum.  Ivan read that it’s better to get a tour, so we figured it would be better to check it out tomorrow for the tour.

We went to Abando y Barra for a tapas snack and then we walked around Bilbao.  The Guggenheim has lots of cool arty buildings and art outside of the museum. 

It was now dinner time. 

Ivan found some good pintxos bars to try out.  The first stop was Irrintzi which had a cool anime theme.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t many pescatarian dishes for us to try.  We shared the fried cod, small fish on bread and bread with cheese and anchovies.


The bread with cheese and anchovies was good.  Lil Dave got chicken and banana on a stick and a banana salad.

It was time to walk to our next stop Gure Toki.  It was this great bustling little bar at the corner of a busy square filled with people eating drinking and having a good time.


Ivan got a beer while I got red wine.  Here, we tried the tuna with onions, salmon ravioli, the award-winning soup with cheese and egg, octopus on a stick and the apple, mango and cheese on bread.  The soup was really good.. but the best dish was the awesome apple, mango and cheese with bread.


Ivan and I thought we should try one more place.  Our last bar stop was Zezen Gorri.  We got the anchovies, seaweed and black olive paste and a cheese spread with salmon on bread.  Both dishes were very tasty.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I went back early.  Ivan and I watched an episode of Beaver Falls before going to bed.


Pintxos Bar Hopping

On September 13, 2012, we woke up and the weather was gloomy and overcast.  We wish the weather was better because we wanted to head to the beach.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I headed out into the city at noon to find pintxos for lunch.  Ivan had done his homework from the internet, and had a whole list of places to visit. The old town of San Sebastián is known for its pinxtos and there are literally hundreds of places crammed into a handful of small streets. 

Our first stop was Bar Burda Berri.  Lil Dave got the banana and mushroom skewers.  Ivan and I got the yummy bacalao(cod) and the creamy mushroom risotto and a glass of red wine.

The next bar was Bar Goiz Argi.  It’s famous for the very delicious shrimp and meat on a skewer on top of a toasted bread which is called brocheta de gambas for 2 Euros. 


We also got octopus but it wasn’t as good as the one we had last night at La Cuchara de San Telmo. 

Bar Txepetxa was our next bar stop. Its famous for its anchovies. This place has been visited by Sir Ian McKellen (who plays Gandalf in the Lord of the Ring trilogy), Glen Close and other famous Spanish people.  Lil Dave got bananas with raspberries and bananas with cinnamon.  Ivan really wanted to try the papaya and anchovies, but they were out or maybe papaya’s not in season right now….or maybe they just didn’t think we deserved to get any papaya, when in fact the reality was they had huge buckets of it under the counter…  Ivan and I tried anchovies with blueberries on bread and anchovies with coconut. 


They were both so delicious and very unique. 

Bar La Cepa was up next.  Ivan and I had the tortilla de bacalao (cod tortilla) which was alright – the cod was overpowered by the flavor of the eggs.  This bar has cool tables with candy in it. 


Our next tapas bar was A Fuego Negro.  This is the coolest tapas bar with yellow and red over the bar.  There’s also a restaurant in the back.  The restaurant has really unique dishes like gastronomical creations.  We tried the frozen cheese and sardines, marinated salmon with citrus fruit and croutons, coaled cod with pepper pips and pomegranate ceviche. 


The frozen cheese had a hint of sardine flavor and melted in your mouth like it was snow in your mouth.  The dishes were so delicious.  I know we’ll be coming back to this place to try more dishes.  I wish we lived here and we could try everything out.

We tried the La Mejillonera again but they had run out of papas bravas and were closing.  Darn it!

Ivan and I went to Smooy a frozen yogurt place.  We got the yogurt with berries and nuts and raisins.  Lil Dave got yogurt with extra bananas.

It was time to head back to the apartment for a long siesta.

Later, we went out at 7:30 pm and walked by the ocean. 


We saw some weird structures and the lovely beach. 


Shame about the weather.. but at least we get to try lots of tapas.

It was time to use the internet for awhile before heading out for dinner.

We went out at 10:30 pm for tapas.  The La Mejillonera bar had no more patata bravas and mussels at 10:50 pm – I guess it’s that popular or they don’t have much food.

Our first stop was La Cuchara de San Telmo.  Ivan and I shared the risotto with goats cheese and cod with tzatziki with the local cider.  The cider is tasty but is bitter since it’s doesn’t any sugar added to it.

Next, we went to Zaruko.  We got the tasty goats cheese with apple and caramel, sea urchin (which tasted good since it had a creamy sauce with it), eel with a fish on top and a cook your own fish dish. 


The cook your own fish dish was interesting.  I ate the fish, then I ate a sweet cream on bread and then drink something green in a test tube.  The fish was ok, I really liked the sweet cream on bread and the test tube liquid was average.  I really love how the pintxos are very unique and tasty. Very modern also.


Winery Tour

Ivan, Lil Dave and I had the free breakfast on September 12, 2012.

We grabbed our bags and left La Casa Verde saying goodbye to the hyperactive dogs who looked like they didn’t want us to leave!

We drove to Ysios which has a winery with a really cool wavy building.


Ivan drove us to Hector Oribe for lunch. It was located in a small village up in the mountains. We each had the menu of the dia (menu of the day). The menu was in Spanish, but it sounded like the main course was duck foie pate in the ravioli (Ivan doesn’t eat meat).


Ivan and I got goats cheese salad with fruits, sardines with vegetables, ravioli with duck foie pate (I ate some of Ivan’s ravioli and gave him sardines). For dessert, we got the creme con leche with rice. The food was quite tasty. We really enjoyed the dessert and the salad.

We walked around the small town near Logroño – can’t remember the name.

Ivan drove us to the Marqués de Riscal winery.  We took a tour with about 20 people and one monkey.  The first part was a stupid video that was telling us all their accomplishments (awards the winery has won) and how they export to 92 countries.  They’re going to be exporting to India which Ivan thinks is a bad idea since only tourists drink wine in India.  They could have mentioned how the winery got their name.

One of the buildings is a cool design by Frank Ghery. 


Ghery said that it captured the essence of wine. (He also said a lot of other pretentious stuff which kinda went in one ear and out the other for us). The wavy steel of the building makes me want to slide down it.  Why couldn’t Frank have said that on the video. “Yeah I designed this building because it looks like it would be a fun thing to slide down!’


The tour took us to the fermentation tanks and we got to see workers wash the barrels. We also got to walk around the vast cellars.  It was a great tour.  We even got to see the bottling area. 


60% of their wines are exported.  This has been the best wine tour we’ve been on since you get to see so much.

The last part was a wine tasting of two wines.  The first was a white wine called Rueda Verddejo 2011.  The wine was dry and sweet.  I thought it was fruity while Ivan said it was studious.  I scored it 8.5 out of 10 while Ivan gave it 7.5.  The second one was a red wine called Rioja Reserva 2007.  I thought it was a smooth wine giving it 7 out of 8, Ivan really enjoyed it giving it an 8.9.  Unfortunately he couldn’t drink too much of it as he had to drive!

Here’s a picture of us with the tour guide.


Next, we drove four hours to get to our next destination San Sebastián. 

We found parking underground, otherwise we’d have to move the car at a certain time for free parking on the street which seemed like too much of a hassle. 

The Airbnb apartment Ivan booked was in a great location right in the centre of town.  We met the couple at their apartment and they talked about San Sebastian.  The guy said that the two things to do in San Sebastián are to eat and to relax at the beach. 

Our room has a lovely view of the cathedral (name? look on foursquare or google) from the little balcony right outside.

The guy printed out some suggestions for pintxos places nearby.  San Sebastián is THE place for pintxos. 

We were settled in.  The guy said that they were all going to a few pintxos restaurants if we wanted to join them.  Ivan and I thought it was a good idea.  We went with them and an American girl who was also staying at the apartment.

The guy (I have no clue what his name was) really looked like Shlomo.  I kept looking at him and was a bit disappointed that he didn’t bust out a song using his voice making sound effects like Shlomo. 

Our first tapas bar was La Cuchara de San Telmo.  Ivan and I both got white wine.  Lil Dave got a few banana tapas made for him like banana bravas and banana and cod on bread.  Ivan and I shared salted octopus and cod with tzatiki – both dishes were so very tasty.

The next tapas bar was Zeruko which is a fancy pintxos place. 


You choose your pintxos from the big variety of pintxos on the bar and then the server heats it up for you.  We got goats cheese with caramelized apple on top, 2 cod dishes (the one with red sauce was the better one) which came with olive oil soaked toasted bread and a sweet round dessert. 


Ivan, the American girl and I were still a bit hungry so we went in search of another tapas bar that was open.

We tried La Mejillonera which is famous for their patatas bravas, but it was closed.  Ivan loves patato bravas.

Ivan spotted Naturally which is a frozen yogurt place.  Ivan and I shared a great yogurt with berries and muesli.

The Airbnb couple found a pintxos place.  The American girl got some food and we all chatted about traveling and books.

It was a good night filled with lots of pintxos.  Definitely looking forward to trying more.

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