Address: 21 Calle San Jeronimo, San Sebastian
Phone: 34 943 42 2575
We really wanted to experience the pintxos bar hopping that is so famous in the Basque country, so as soon as we touched down in San Sebastian, we went straight to the old quarter area and started eating. Since it was a weekday when we arrived in San Sebastian, the old quarter pintxos bar area was not too crowded, which was good for us since we didn't have to fight the crowd for good food.
Our first stop, Ganbara Pintxos Bar. We heard that Ganbara's specialty is the wild mushroom dish so we ordered a plate. We also had some anchoas, fish roe, peppers wrapped with anchos, jamon croissant, and two glasses of our first Txacholi in San Sebastian. Txacholi is a type of low alcohol sparkling white wine produced in the Basque country, and it's a pretty popular drink in this area. We like that it's low alcohol, bubbly and goes well with pintxos! The anchoas at Ganbara was really good, so was the jamon croissant and wild mushroom egg dish. Since it was just our first stop, we tried not too eat too much as there are more pintxos bars to check out. So off we go, to our next stop- Goiz Barc Argi.
Gan: Pintxos is the basque country equivalent of tapas in Spain. As per wikipedia, it literally mean spike or thorns, which is represented by the toothpick holding up each of this small little bite-size dishes on a piece of bread. In actuallity, the pintxos can be anything from small brochette style dish to more comprehensive cooked to order small portion of dishes. We are seeing a lot of similarity between Japanese and Spanish cuisine in this trip.. seeing that the Japanese has the izakaya. Both pintxo bars and izakaya are bars that serve alcohol and accompanied small little dishes. I'm quite sure the alcohol was the origin of the intent and the little food dishes are there to attract more customers but as any culture with passion for food, the dishes evolved and turned into the focus and attraction. After all, there's only so much you can really do with alcohol as opposed to food.
The first time I saw Tony Bourdain's Spain-San Sebastian episode, I was already hooked to this region and the pintxos hopping. As Juan Arzak personally told us while we were dining at Arzak, in Europe the restaurants are a source of many food inspiration and in South East Asia region we are known by our street food. It's very true, I feel, that as we get wealthier in our culture, our food evolved together with it. The origin of these inspirations usually come from the food that ordinary people eat everyday. In Asia we have the hawker food, and in Western countries, there's the bar food. In Spain, there's pintxos and tapas!
Ganbara's specialty was its mushrooms. As we slowly begin to see the many different idiosyncracies of the Spanish cuisine, the pintxos and tapas has many differences as well. There's specializations in certain produce (mushrooms, shrimp-gambas, meat-carne), food temperature (hot-cooked, cold), and regional styles (basque, catalan, galician). And I have to say, the mushrooms are amazing in Ganbara. The very friendly owner got us a plate of mixed mushrooms simply cooked with egg. The mushrooms are good soaking agent so the sauces are well soaked with the runny scrambled egg sauce. We had a mixture of chanterelle, woodear and porcini. It was very appetizing. The aroma and the flavor was great. It's just a bit steep in price.. I think it was about EUR15 but it was definitely worth the try.