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San Sebastián, Spain

San Sebastián is a gorgeous beach town located in the Basque country and is known as the Culinary Capital of Spain with the highest concentrations of Michelin stars in the world. We were in San Sebastián for a family reunion. Mike has a cousin that lives there so we were not visiting to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy meals but to eat as the locals do.


Our first food adventure: Pintxos (Basque tapas). The old part of the city has streets full of Pintxos bars where you order a drink and start noshing on the plates of small bites arranged on the bar. Get ready to get your carbs on – most are slices of bread topped with different goodies. Each has a toothpick in it and when you are ready to leave you hand over your toothpicks to the bartender and he will let you know the amount you owe.


2nd was a traditional meal at Aldanondo restaurante which specializes in grilled steak. Our group of 10 shared a bunch of appetizers and then each ordered a main course. Apps included: white asparagus, tuna salad, prawns, green beans and my new favorite thing grilled peppers with salt. For our main dish Mike and I shared the steak which was HUGE. The meat was perfectly cooked and well seasoned. It came with a simple mixed green salad which we requested instead of fries. Delicious! website: http://www.aldanondo.com/

Our final dinner was at La Fabrica. Here they prepare classic dishes with a new twist. We all decided to order the 3 course prix fixe menu which was cheap by American standards. I started out with the mushroom ravioli with foie gras cream followed by a local white fish with tomato sauce and for dessert an apple tart. Everyone loved the food.  website: http://www.restaurantelafabrica.es/home.html

We had a fantastic time in San Sebastián. It’s a very relaxing destination. Mike and I plan to return when we win the lotto so we can try some of the spots with stars.

Non Foodie Note: if you do visit make sure you take a day trip to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim. Out of the 6 museums we visited in Spain/France that was my favorite.

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Chocolateria San Ginés


Before leaving for Madrid I did some online research and one place kept popping up as a must do activity — eat Hot chocolate and Churros at Chocolateria San Ginés. We arrived at 11:30pm (early by Spanish standards) and the cafe was about half full. We easily found a table and immediately ordered …2 hot chocolates and 1 plate of churros. No menu necessary. When everything arrived it looked beautiful. The churros are not like what you find at Disneyland covered in cinnamon sugar and doughy in the middle. It was a slightly sweet crispy dough and when dipped in the warm milk chocolate it was the ultimate combination. The chocolate is really not for drinking but dipping because it is so thick and rich. This is one of those don’t miss opportunities when in Madrid and since it’s practically open all day and night you have no excuse not to try it.

Note: I found the recipe on the Food Network. I haven’t tried it so I can’t vouch for its authenticity but if you can’t make it to Madrid and you want to give it a try this may be your best bet.

Address: Pasadizo de San Ginés, 11

Mercado de San Miguel


Mike has a cousin that lives in Madrid and one of the places she suggested we check out was the Mercado de San Miguel – a hip new indoor farmers market filled with over 30 vendors selling seafood, sandwiches, fresh vegetables, sweets, baked goods, tapas, wine, ham and more (similar to Oxbow market – if you’ve been to Napa). Mike and I hit up the Mercado for a light bite a few hours after we landed in Madrid. We arrived around 3pm on a Friday and the place was packed. Not a free seat in site. Many locals were enjoying plates of oysters and bottles of wine. Mike and I decided to share a simple jamon sandwich and a beer. Our internal body clocks were totally off so we didn’t want a big meal and this hit the spot.

Website: http://www.mercadodesanmiguel.es/

Adventurous Appetites Tapas Tour – Madrid


For our first foodie adventure in Spain Mike and I decided to go on a Tapas tour since we had limited time in Madrid and no idea where to go. Our walking tour started in the heart of the city at the Puerta del Sol where we met our guide James. We had a fairly small group of 6 people which was nice because any more and you would have difficulty finding spots in bars where we could all be together.

Mike pouring cider

Our first stop was a bar known for Asturian cider and blue cheese. The cider was alcoholic but not like what you would expect in the states. It tasted like olives or a dirty martini. Definitely an acquired taste. Along with the drinks came plates of complimentary ham and cheese as well as a cold potato salad. Then came the creamiest blue cheese I have ever tasted. It was like pâté and was spread on sliced bread. Awesome! We also tried some tasty chorizo and potatoes with paprika before heading off to our next location. While walking James gave some basic history of Madrid and the food culture.

blue cheese

Next stop:  Jamón!
Here we tried the daddy of all Spanish ham — iberico along with manchego cheese, salami, olives and washed it all down with Sangria. Yum.

Destination #3 was a small wine bar. Here we drank terrific red wine while feasting on blood pudding, roasted peppers with salt, lamb sweetbreads, steak w/ mushrooms, croquettes with prosciutto, tripe with chick peas and paella.

You’d think that was the end but we had one final spot for Seafood. While we sipped white wine a bevy of sea creatures were placed on our table… octopus with potatoes, anchovies with potato chips and olives, garlic shrimp and barnacles ( looks like a tiny elephant foot and tastes like a salty clam). Everything was fresh and delicious.

This was hands down our favorite event on our European vacation. When the night is over you will be full and content. We would highly recommend taking this tour. James is a fantastic guide.

Note: In order to try and keep the tours bar/restaurant locations from becoming overrun with tourists I did not reveal the names.

Website: http://www.adventurousappetites.com/

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