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

 

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