Pathfinder pics: bar-hopping for pintxos in San Sebastián (and discovering Spain’s culinary gems)

Two pintxos are shown resting on top of a copy of Lonely Planet's Ultimate Eats book, with the harbour of San Sebastián in the background Pintxos with a view – the harbour of gorgeous San Sebastián © Dan Flying Solo

Lonely Planet Pathfinder, Daniel Clarke of Dan Flying Solo, not too long ago spent 10 days exploring northern Spain, dwelling to our prime rating meals expertise on the planet – bar-hopping for pintxos in San Sebastián.

Spain is a rustic famend worldwide for its completely crafted delicacies, contemporary, seasonal produce and passionate cooks who can take the best of substances and switch them right into a mouth-watering journey for the style buds. It is also dwelling to the highest expertise from Lonely Planet’s Final Eatlist consuming pintxos in San Sebastián, a culinary gem present in Spain’s Basque Nation.

Nonetheless, gastronomic greatness isn’t reserved solely for this dreamy seaside city. The number of tasty native delicacies served up in Spain’s distinctive areas and provinces noticed 13 Spanish foodie experiences function in Final Eatlist. Throughout my 10-day Spanish tour I managed to become familiar with San Sebastián’s prized pintxos scene, in addition to tuck into a couple of of the opposite scrumptious delicacies on provide in northern Spain.

Pintxos, the highest meals expertise on the planet

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Topping Lonely Planet’s Final Eatlist, San Sebastián’s small however completely fashioned pintxos are petite and scrumptious. These flavoursome treats are available in many kinds, from the standard mini-skewer mixture of olive, anchovy and pepper generally known as the ‘gilda’, by means of to intriguing amalgamations of substances piled-high on bread – this can be a eating delight that is by no means bland.

Do not go mistaking pintxos for tapas although! These tiny bites are unique to the Basque Area and are not to be confused with the historically free bar-snacks of tapas, that are served in different components of Spain. Pintxos are ordered and paid for individually, and are not simply an accompaniment to a drink, however the star attraction of a social eating expertise.

Head to the outdated city streets for the thrill

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The easiest way to take pleasure in pintxos in San Sebastián is by taking to the buzzing streets of the outdated city, the place numerous bar-tops are piled excessive with quite a few variations, from toothpick primarily based stacks to mini-sandwiches.

That is sociable eating at its perfect, and the crowds from the bars spill out onto terrace tables, avenue stools, stunning plazas and even church steps to benefit from the expertise of consuming on this food-obsessed metropolis. Don’t begin your edible escapade too early although – 9pm is absolutely the earliest to hit the streets if you wish to take pleasure in your pintxos with a slice of environment, and you will be consuming and ingesting for a lot of your night (and night time!) within the outdated city. Is there any higher excuse for a day siesta?

Pintxos: completely fashioned finger meals

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When you can seize a plate in any bar, and fill it with the tempting and delectable bites very quickly in any respect, pintxos are greatest loved the best way the locals do – on a bar-hopping journey. This fashion you may pattern varied treats in several bars throughout the town. For a very genuine expertise, order a glass of the native glowing wine, txakoli, and benefit from the theatre of expert bartenders pouring it from a peak to extend the bubbles within the glass.

It’s simple to overlook the specialities on bar blackboards, that are normally cooked contemporary not like the unfold on the counter – simply ask the bartender what the perfect dish is that day, and order away! Whether or not battered white asparagus or mushrooms soaked in garlic, ensure you depart house to benefit from the heat dishes as properly.

A surprising backdrop to a land of gastronomy

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There isn’t any denying that San Sebastián is a panoramic seashore vacation spot, particularly given the views of the bay from the highest of Mount Igueldo, nice for put up pintxo-hiking (or simply accessed by funicular!)

There may be much more to this vacation spot than meets the attention, nevertheless, particularly for these with an actual ardour for meals. There are round 150 gastronomic societies in San Sebastián, that are a bit like members golf equipment, however for cooking and sharing culinary creativity. It’s inside these membership homes that household get-togethers occur, and locals spend time within the communal kitchen. Members have their very own key, offering entry at any time of day – I used to be fortunate sufficient to spend a morning with native chef, Ben, who confirmed us round one, and taught me methods to prepare dinner native specialities. If you end up in San Sebastián, you should definitely attempt to expertise it for your self!

Days all start on the markets

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Regardless of the place my meals tour of Spain took me, almost each morning of it started at a market. With contemporary, seasonal produce being the main target, and native substances and flavours prevailing, a visit to the market is far more than a store, it is a social expertise in itself.

In Barcelona, Sarah, who would later prepare dinner us up some Catalonian treats in her dwelling, guided us by means of a couple of of the native markets to fulfill her suppliers (and mates). The group bond between those that promote and purchase at these markets is real, and group appears to be on the coronary heart of the culinary expertise all through the nation. Celebrating the market tradition of Spain, at quantity 23 on the Final Eatlist, is Barcelona’s La Boqueria market, by far one of the visited by vacationers. This bustling pit-stop on La Rambla is a buzz of bars, stalls and distributors, and an incredible introduction which will encourage you to seek out among the smaller markets all through the town.

Proceed your Final Eatlist tour throughout Spain

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Lonely Planet’s Final Eatlist ranks the highest 500 meals experiences on the planet, and with 13 of these originating in Spain, I had lots to sink my tooth into. From freshly-sliced jamón ibérico (quantity 192), by means of to dark-chocolate dunked churros (quantity 22), I devoured my means throughout the nation, and realised simply how a lot you may inform a few vacation spot from its delicacies and consuming habits.

Like all unimaginable journey although, mine sadly needed to finish, and towards the spectacular backdrop of Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, I dived into my final Final Eatlist expertise – the almond-based tarta de Santiago. Coming in at quantity 272, it was the right candy deal with with which to bid Spain farewell. With one other 487 foodie experiences left on the checklist, it is onto the subsequent journey (and meal) for me!

Fancy tucking into northern Spain’s meals scene your self? Enter our Final Eatlist competitors on your likelihood to win two locations on this Intrepid Journey tour, together with return flights to Spain.

Daniel Clarke travelled to Spain with help from Intrepid Journey. Lonely Planet contributors don’t settle for freebies in alternate for constructive protection. Observe @lonelyplanet for extra Instagram inspiration.

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