Rubi in the Rough: San Sebastian, Spain

BY Danielle Rubi | Wed. December 31, 1969 | 7:00 PM | I'll Take You There
Danielle Rubi is a photographer and epicure based in Paris, who has agreed to share her travels and adventures with OC readers. Get ready for some truly awe-inspiring and mouth-watering reading.

San Sebastian is considered one of the most respected gastronomic towns in the world. It has the highest concentration of Michelin starred restaurants (16) and yet it's super mellow and unpretentious. It's a small surf town with an international film festival, incredible food culture and a ton of pride. What we like the most are the Basque pintxos (tapas) bars in Parte Vieja, the old town. In Parte Vieja, you hop from bar to bar and taste miniature dishes of haute cuisine and drink Basque txakoli (sparkling white wine) or cider. One of our favorite spots was La Cuchara de San Telmo, which served tapas like seared foie gras with apple compote (tasted like caramel!), Skate with local wild mushrooms, baked local goat cheese with baby greens, braised beef cheeks and lots of other small dishes that change daily on the chalkboard behind the small bar.

Molecular gastronomy, a haute cuisine cooking technique, was partly popularized by chefs in San Sebastian such as Ferran Adria (of El Bulli restaurant), and Juan Mari Arzak (of Arzak) and his daughter Elena. Now chefs like Thomas Keller (French Laundry) and Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck) have been placed on the map for experimenting in this tradition. With all of its influence in the food world, San Sebastian's bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2016 is not so far-fetched.