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Postcards From the Basque Country, San Sebastian

grilled brie with apricot jam & reduced balsamic drizzle pintxos

Wandering the Basque Country to search for new culinary experiences to infuse our menus has been a fantasy for as long as I can recall, I imagined rustic, luscious, ancient fare and a slow pace. That last bit, is, honestly, why it’s taken me so long to go. Spain I adore, I cry every time I leave Madrid, but I was afraid the slow pace of the Basque areas may bore me and travel time’s so precious, it was a risk, thank God, I finally took.

I fell instantly in love! Before we even fully arrived, on the way in the landscape begins to change to this rich, lush green mountainous place. As we neared the coast the view was breathtaking. The city was an impossibly lovely, lively, music filled seaside big-yet-small-feeling, poppin’ town. It is also widely considered one of the best places to eat in the world – and, this year, the city was awarded the coveted title of European Capital of Culture.

We rented a flawless AirBandB, it doesn’t always go that way, but we got really lucky. The place was beautiful with a great balcony overlooking the town & sea, perfectly situated right in the middle of Pintxos WORLD!

San Sebastian has endless, charming, adorable oh-so-friendly tiny basque style tapas bars - called pintxos - as far as you can walk. Pintxos are sold much like tapas are, from small, friendly bars lined up one after the other. Bola de carne picante was the star, for me, a juicy meatball wrapped in crisp pastry, best thing I ever had in my life! Seafood, as, of course, they are on the sea, dominates the menu. I met many female chefs too, which is rare, even here, but there they were flourishing in that beautiful, delicious place.

To justify all that glorious food I highly recommend you reserve a few hours at La Perla. A 100 year old seawater spa, where you go from sparkling indoor pool to pool with waterfalls and a variety of temperatures and underwater workout options followed by a traditional plunge into the Mediterranean sea and an excellent massage. On La Concha Beach it is a beacon of wellness originally commissioned by the Queen and impeccably maintained.

And then there’s the Michelin star chefs…there’s so many! It is also home to the first faculty of gastronomy in the world, the Basque Culinary Center where they teach culinary arts. We chose Martin Berasategui’s, with 3 Michelin stars to his name, and it was glorious. So inspired and warm & friendly. He and his family, who live there, were so gracious and sent many delectable works of culinary art to us, following it up with a meeting of the whole team and a tour of the kitchen! His menu is meticulously dominated by the seasons, he says “Nature is wise, you only have to listen to her. My appetizers vary, depending on the whim of the land, the sea and the season of year. I propose that you allow me to seduce you in small mouthfuls… seductive, light and succulent, they will whet your appetite and be the introduction to a magnificent meal.” Who could refuse such an offer?!

What can I say? GO. It’s heaven on earth!

I hope to see you out there~

Lynette La Mere, Pure Joy Catering Executive Chef

sea urchin

Martin's Sea Urchin presentation was good, the flavor, sublime!

3 michelin stars

3 Michelin Stared Chef Martin Berasategui and the lamb...oh the lamb

Pintxos; Basque-ified tapas

raspberry by Martin - each creative course is like delightful little present for your mouth

pintxos - like tapas only (shhh) better!

you can run the whole La Concha beach & climb to the top of the mountain there

I found the Basque People to be so very friendly & easy going

croquetas, one of my favorites - which we make an excellent version of at Pure Joy

you can run the whole La Concha beach & climb to the top of the mountain there


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