Ganbara San Geronimo, San sebastianThe first bar that I always see on entering the Calle San Jeronimo is the Ganbara where one can ogle and let the eyes pop and the mouth dampen to the sight of fresh pintxos such as grated egg with mayonnaise, king prawns and anchovy, alongside such delicacies as truffles and rather odd looking brains that turn out to be the roe of something weird.  This is a great bar to get into early and watch the pros salt-cod-specialistpreparing the pintxos and then picking them off as soon as they touch the bar.  You’ll know when it’s time to move on… when standing room has vanished and the bar is stuffed full of pintxo aficionados gorging themselves!

Txapula – The skewers at the Txapula bar on the Calle Calbeton are outstanding and this remains one of my most memorable feasting joints in ....

...San Sebastian.  Simply rock in and the barman (same one each year) will hand you a plate.  Then you select Beach in Donastia / San Sebastiana range of skewers such as calamari and peppers, bread-crumbed mussels or oyster mushrooms with king prawn.  The ever accommodating barman will then relieve you of the plate and send them off to be grilled.  In the meantime you order your first glass of Muga Rioja (€1.80 – cheap even with sterling being massacred by the euro!) and wait for the call.  When it comes it is time to order another glass of Muga as the results are so alarmingly good, they’ll create a thirst. The skewers sizzle and the tastes is a melody to run rings around the pleasure centres of the mind.

nick breeze lunchOther great pintxos from this bar are the Bacalou (salt cod) which is truly scrumptious. Also the jamon iberico (acorn fed ham) with foi gras and mango are tasty enough to make an icicle perspire!

If when done at the Txapula Bar you feel like slowing down (or speeding up) on the pintxos then go back on yourself towards the C. San Jeronimo and turn right walking past the Ganbara and to the end where you do a left on to de Agosto.  Here you will stumble upon a little square and on the left a popular bar called Casa Gandarias.  This was a high scorer for us as the pintxos were excellent and the wine list among the best in the bars in San Sebastian.  The adjoining restaurant is also very good if you feeling like pew-ing down!

san-sebastian-portIn the Casa Gandarias the barmen guard a great steel cooling cabinet with the armory of wines to accompany the pintxos.  We sampled quite a few here including the Vega Sicilia (€15 per glass but wonderfully rich with cherry and pruney complexity – long long long in the mouth) and Emilio Moro (€3 – something of an affordable legend in Ribera del Duero – dark red fruits and wonderful aromas that keep one sniffing for ages) that offers outstanding quality and value.  There were others that I cannot momentarily remember as they listed them by variety rather than name. 








Photography Richard Payne © 2009


COPOUT Book by Nick Breeze

Follow us on social media:

Secret Sommelier on TwitterSecret Sommelier on Instagramfacebook 001linkedin 001youtube 001

Climate change podcast

Last week a picture was posted on Twitter of vines in Shabo, a large estate that lies to the west of Odesa on southern Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline. The image seemed benign at face value but the reality, of course, is that the city of Odesa has been bracing itself for attack by Russian forces. 


As COVID-19 conspires with the grimmest of winds and rain to force a societal retreat behind our own front doors, the word ennui springs to mind. The muddle of displeasure is pierced when Natalia hands me a large bulbous glass of a liquid I do not recognise.



Britain’s lamentable exit

On the eve of Britain’s official departure from the EU, my partner and I decided to explore a small town on the Italian Riviera where thewintry cold doesn’t feel so much like cold war bite.

I had warned my significant other that I would be having an inverse departure party, a release of the sanity valve if you like!


Sitting inside the ancient castle walls inside the town of Soave, a short drive from Verona in northern Italy, the unique slightly almond aroma of the indigenous grape, Garganega, rises gently from my glass. The castle sprawls up the side of an extinct volcano that gives the region its variant soil structures that mark out the better quality of Soave wines.


Tanisha Townsend decided to move to Paris 4 years ago after regularly passing through the city en route to the world’s most famous vineyards. In fact, it was about 2 years ago at the Printemps de Champagne Bouzy Rouge tasting in Reims that I saw (who we shall now refer to as) GirlMeetsGlass chirpily speaking to her web followers on Snapchat.


The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the final resting place of Saint James, rises out of the landscape, infested with antiquity. The rambling steep streets give way to shafts of dramatic light, emblazoned chapels, and tightly packed tapas bars, dusty, as old novels pressed together in antiquarian bookshops.


We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of this site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

  I accept cookies from this site.
EU Cookie Directive plugin by