Friday 3 June 2011

La Cuchara de San Telmo, San Sebastian

There seems to be one common conversation that is repeated on a daily basis all over San Sebastian. For the sake of simplicity, I'll refer to it as the "Question".

Person A: So, why have you come to San Sebastian?
Person B: To eat.

I have been party to over a dozen of these Questions, both as Person A and Person B and it seems to be common thread that binds the majority of tourists to this part of the world. Of course, there is more to do here than simply eat. There are three beaches, three mountains, great shopping with plenty of interesting boutiques, the "old town" with winding alleys and the charm of a bygone era. However, the drawcard that trumps them all is the food.

I am staying in a shared room at Pension Amalur, a wonderful place with charm and plenty of comfort. Yesterday, it seemed that there was a complete turnover of guests and of course, the Question was asked by all. Which of course resulted in another truism that I have discovered here: "another day, another eating companion".

Today I met Jonah. Hailing from Philadelphia, he has spent the last year teaching English in Madrid and before heading home, decided to come to San Sebastian to eat. He lamented that he wasn't able to obtain a booking at any of the many Michelin-starred restaurants in town. Luckily for him, tomorrow I have a booking at Akelare and even though I keep confirming with Akelare that I am a table for one, the staff always confirm it's for two.

With tomorrow resolved, however, that left Jonah and I with the decision of what to do this evening. It was after 9pm and I hadn't yet been able to confirm any other plans so we headed for more pintxos to La Cuchara de San Telmo. Considered to be more innovative than the traditional pintxos bars, there is no food on the bar and all items must be ordered from the menu on the chalkboard (or the more condensed English menu available for the tourists).

Ribs of Iberico pork glazed with vinegar of modena and honey

Sea-scallop wrapped in acorn fed iberico bacon

Crispy stuffed goat cheese with vegetables and sesame oil

Grilled rock octopus with sauteed cabbage leaves

Garlic risotto with goats cheese

I really enjoy this style of eating; I heard it described as "eat a little, often".

At any restaurant, when I order off an a-la-carte menu, I always prefer to order two appetizers and no main course. I find that portion sizes to be more managable, the chefs are generally more inventive, and the ingredients more unusual. The main courses usually follow a formula: large piece of protein, a grain/starch, some vegetables and a sauce. This formula, however, doesn't seem to apply to appetizers which is why I prefer to "eat a little, often".

San Sebastian at night

1 comment:

  1. great post! this place was my favourite of all the pintxos bars in san sebastian! i didn't have the goats cheese though, your photo's brilliant! i agree with ordering two entrees, i find main courses always same-old, chicken, beef or fish, whereas entrees are more exciting!


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