I am currently in San Sebastián, known in the local Basque language as Donostia. San Sebastián is renowned as a gastronomic wonderland, with more Michelin stars per capita in the immediate vicinity than any other city. Arzak and Martín Berasategui lead the pack with the maximum three stars, Akelarre and Zuberoa with two each and Mugaritz, Fagollada and Miramón Arbelaitz with one a piece.
However, as I've mentioned before, my personal interests lie more in becoming acquainted with the traditional, regional cooking of Spain. San Sebastián has much to offer in this category of dining, too. First, it is the capital of pintxos (roughly pronounced peen-chos), the Basque version of tapas that are reputed to be the best in Spain (although some in Andalucía would no doubt dispute that claim). Second, being a port city on the Atlantic, San Sebastián and, more famously, the nearby town of Getaria are renowned for their restaurants that specialize in freshly caught fish grilled over an open fire. Third, the local men take their traditional cooking so seriously that they have organized gastronomic brotherhoods and compete annually to decide who is the best.
I've decided to divide my posts on the Basque country into several categories, roughly along the lines outlined above. I'll guide you through a tour of my favorite pintxos bars. Then we'll explore the excellent local market, La Bretxa (La Brecha in Spanish), to check out the beautiful fish and travel to Getaria to taste it (I just got back and, yes, they had sardines!). Next, and I'm very excited about this, I managed to snag an invitation to lunch (tomorrow) at the Cofradía Vasca de Gastronomía, one of the Basque gastronomic societies. Finally, I hope to take you along to a meal at one of the area´s culinary jewels (if I can get a last minute reservation).