Dinner Excursion to San Sebastian, 16-19 March 2007
Here is THE chance to experience a once-in-a-lifetime culinary experience at the place where there are more Michelin stars per head of population than any other town in the world. For the March 2007 Dinner Club event, we are planning a full 4-day visit to San Sebastian, capital of the Basque region in Spain, and home to the finest restaurants and bars in Europe. You don't have to believe me - just read some of the links and attached reviews.
Anyway, as this is an extended event, there will be several options available, as follows:
1. Dinner at Martin Berasategui, by far the finest cook I know in Europe. Apparently, even Alain Ducasse is awed by him and I can completely understand why. Some links: http://www.euroresidentes.com/euroresiuk/spanish_restaurants/san-sebastian/barasategui-restaurant.htm and his website: http://www.martinberasategui.com/eng/martin.php
2. Dinner at a Sideria. This is a crazy, fun event which you really cannot afford to miss. We will go to an apple farm where they will serve a traditional 4-course sideria menu: 2 fish courses, 1 huge fantastic beef course and then finish with Spanish cheese and fruit. That's the boring bit. The fun part is the drinking of the sidra (or cider). Huge barrels of cider are opened to squirt cider all over the floor and you have to hold a glass out to catch what you want to drink from the stream of flying cider! Really. I cannot describe it but it is amazingly good fun, so you don't want to miss this event for sure.
3. Dinner at Arzak. This is a family-run restaurant which also has 3 Michelin stars and has been voted the best restaurant in Spain. Need I say more? Website: http://www.arzak.info/ing/home.asp. However, if I had to choose between Arzak and Martin Berasategui, I would marginally prefer Martin.
4. Pinxto crawls. This is another incredible fun thing to do, but I am afraid that one has to be a little restrained. Basically, San Sebastian has got more bars per square kilometre than any other place in the world. However, as I found to my cost, it is way too easy to fall in love with the food and the wines in the first bar you go into, so I will now warn everyone that they can only have 2 pinxtos per bar and a wine before we head off to the next pinxto bar. Trust me - you can thank me for this later. And there are different areas of San Sebastian which have their own style of pinxtos - my favourite is Aloņa Berri in Gros. You might even get to find out why! And with several different districts to visit, one can never try them all. A website with an example of pinxtos: http://www.todopintxos.com/home/home.php?lang=en
5. Whatever you like! There are so many cool places, even a couple of live jazz bars, that we can spontaneously pick what we like to do.
The current plan, which is not fixed at all at the moment, is what we gather somewhere around Friday, 16 March 2007, and then do a pinxto tour of the town that evening, just to get your palate started. You will not regret this. Then on Saturday, we will plan for a dinner at either Martin Berasategui or Arzak, depending on circumstances. On Sunday evening we will literally splash around in the best sideria I know. Finally, on Monday, we might try pinxtos again in different parts of San Sebastian as most of the top restaurants are closed this day.
I do not expect a lot of people to turn up, and even if they do, I do not expect everyone to last the full 4 nights as they may have to leave early for work or something. But what I do NEED to know now is how many people are interested in coming along, and for how long, so that I can make the bookings for the restaurants and suggest places to stay and flights and itineraries. Also, I am leaving the mornings and afternoons free so that people can do whatever they like, although everyone is welcome to hang out with me even though I am boring as mud. There are lots of things to do in the town (markets, musuems, churches, aquarium, walks, shopping, etc), and many fantastic places to visit around San Sebastian, so I am sure everyone will have a good time. Using the buses is really cheap and easy, and the tourist office is also very helpful.
Well, we have been talking about this trip a long time, and now it is finally going to happen! Believe me, this is not a cheap event, so I would budget for at least 300 Euro for the food and drinks alone. Accomodation might be cheaper if people would team up to rent an apartment and I will try to help with this. And then there are the flights (it might be cheaper to fly via London using Ryanair or EasyJet to Biarritz or Bilbao, and then taking a coach to San Sebastian).
Anyway, I have already bought my flight tickets and will book an apartment soon. I will actually arrive on Thursday evening so as not to get too stressed out, and leave on the Tuesday and if you can spare the time, then I would suggest doing this as well, or preferably, stay even longer!
So, let us see who likes good food enough to want to join us by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! :o)
How it all went...
Well, it all went really rather well! It's a pretty long story what went on, but if you like, please read our blog about the whole weekend. You can also have a look at the pictures below to get an idea of what we have been up to. The only problem was that the weather turned rather cold, blowy and wet from Monday onwards when everyone deserted town except for me, but still, somehow, I struggled on...