Monday, April 07, 2008

San Sebastian

The other day I was re-telling a story to Jasmine and Jill about my reluctance to enter Berkeley's Cheese Board for the first time - last year. I hadn't been there, didn't know the set up or how to ask for cheese, I was sure that everyone was the cheese expert I longed to be and would judge me as such.

I had a nervous belly before I went in for the first time. And the fifth.

Living in Paris now, I laugh at this story - my worst fear of someone laughing in my face has happened, a couple of times, and thankfully I don't always understand what they're saying! I would take the Cheese Board any day. But this asking, the language, the wanting to know what's best and eat what's freshest and drink the right thing - all very stressful again when we went to San Sebastian this weekend, except they smiled more at our Spanish than I get in an average day at my French.

No Basque attempted, but we did manage to order the olives above while we sat over-looking the clear blue bay and drinking txakoli, a local drink that Liam just pointed to in a magazine that I had. I don't know if it was the sun, but something about it became a little less stressful - although then I looked around and everyone else was drinking something red that looked like sangria but came in a bottle and I was overwhelmed with the options.

Our favorite finds on our trip were the pinxtos of olive/anchovy/hot pepper on a stick, some fried cheese that looked like a plantain and some ham cut from a leg above us that Liam enjoyed in a bocadillo.

On the drive from San Sebastian to Bordeaux, we stopped at a boulangerie to get a gateau basque creme which rounded out our train ride picnic of basque cheeses, piment confiture, a bread shaped like a cinnamon roll but oiled with olive, and a nougat filled with spicy pepper as well.

We bought these on the French side though, slightly side-stepping the language worries, but I let Liam do that.

1 comment:

granjan said...

SS or Donostia is such an incredible place for tapas. Did you go to the street behind the rocco church in the old town with bar after bar? And the CLOSED door to the oldest eating society.

I've been twice and it's not enough. In summer the beach is delightful.