I arrived in San Sebastian prepared to fall in love with the pintxo- Basque’s version of the Spanish tapa. Every article you read goes on an on about the fabulousness of pintxos and the must-do pintxos bar-hopping extravaganza.
Well let me tell you… after 5 or 6 attempts, I sat in utter disappointment and wondering why Hellman’s isn’t the town’s official sponsor. My visions of tasty morsels of Basque-goodness were quickly replaced with anchovy-draped mounds of mayonnaise that surely were sitting out on the bars far past reasonable healthy consumption limits (and this is coming from a girl who grew up on bologna and mayo sandwiches, and who doesn’t wash her vegetables!).
But then our local insider and tourguide Jon Galdos told us about La Cuchara de San Telmo,; a tiny, discreetly marked standing-only pintxos bar with not a drop of mayo in sight. La Cuchara is one of the spots that skips the pre-made spread of pintxos approach in favor of a cooked-to-order menu. For the sake of your tastebuds and your intestines, I’m telling you, this is the way to go.
The goat cheese risotto made it into our dreams. The foie gras brought tears to our eyes – topped with chunks of sea salt, sitting in a shallow pool of apple sauce, and drizzled with an olive oil/parsley/balsamic vinaigrette. Beef cheeks in red wine, a bacon-wrapped scallop… Each one was better than the last.
We went back three days in a row. Go ahead and judge. I understand. But then see if you can resist.
By our third visit, we made friends with Freddy (yes, his name, for real), who proudly told us roughly how to make the risotto de cabra:
For the risotto, use De Cecco puntalette pasta
For the super light and flavorful gravy, make your own fish broth with the unused parts of a cod fish, some garlic and onions.
For the sauce drizzled on top, fire up your cuisineart with bread, olive oil, garlic, celery and parsley.
And don’t forget the goat cheese!
If you find yourself in one of the traditional spots, don’t panic. Order the recrackulous Pimientos Verdes, pop ‘em in your mouth one by one, throw back a crianza, and then mosey on over to La Cuchara.
La Cuchara de San Telmo
Plaza Valle Lersundi, at the corner of Corda
+34 943 42 08 40