Last year was a celebration of numerous 50th’s and, having foodie friends of course results in doing foodie things! I’m going to share with you two of my favourite weekends and hopefully inspire you to visit these wonderful places and try their exquisite cuisines.

The first trip was San Sebastian, without doubt the foodie capital of the world. I had told my foodie friends what to expect, but they must have doubted me as they were both were blown away, with all the food exceeding their expectations.

I’ve listed all the tapas restaurants we visited at the bottom of the post but here are my absolute favourite recommendations for San Sebastian:

  1. Go on a guided tapas tour – the culinary choices available in San Sebastian can be overwhelming, going on a tour lets you get the most out of your trip by having a seasoned professional to help guide you through the world of tapas. I always go on a tour and have now been twice with sansebastianfood.com, each time we were hosted by the wonderful Eli.
  2. There are numerous 3 Michelin star restaurants, if you feel so inclined. My recommendation is that you go to one for lunch on your first day as it means you can really enjoy the meal. Resistance is futile during the tapas evenings and you inevitably end up eating too much, meaning you might not be in the mood to fully appreciate a restaurant the next day.

My second weekend recommendation is Venice. I had no idea that Venice had its own Italian version of tapas, it’s called Cicchetti. It’s only found in Venice and the local area in one of the many Ostaria’s. Its purpose, like tapas, is to eat with friends, standing up, hanging around counters and chatting over a bottle of wine. The difference I found to Spain was that they were basically either bread based (loved the 1/4 sandwiches) or fried based, served using cocktail sticks – less complicated and certainly less varied, but no less tasty and a far better way to get the local feel of Venice. For a day of foodie bliss I recommend a short walk in San Marco district crossing the Rialto’s bridge followed by a visit to the buzzing daily fish market and fruits/vegetables desks.

Again my recommendation in Venice is to do a Cicchetti tour, Roberto (Roberto Marin (roberto.marin@hotmail.it ) was fantastic and was able to take us round all the back streets and the little bars that I never knew even existed.

Roberto gave some excellent advice on finding a good restaurant:

  • Best to have a family presence
  • Make sure Italians are working there
  • Menu – only to be written in Italian (best) or English
  • Never go where there is a person outside calling you in
  • No picture food

Cooks are seen as artists and consideration must be shown to the form of their art.

San Sebastian Recommendations

“Goiz Argi” Fermin Calbeton Road (Open Monday)

  • Prawns, Guindilla & padron peppers & Mari Juli pintxo
  • Txakoli wine.

“Ganbara” San Jeronimo Road (Traditional One)

  • Gilda, Txangurro (Brown Crab)
  • Wild Mushrooms & cider

“Zeruko” Pescaderia Road (Molecular Cooking)

  • Cod (La Hoguera)
  • Rueda White Wine

“Borda Berri” Fermin Calbeton Road

  • Idiazabal Risotto (sheep milk cheese)
  • Veal Cheeks, Pork Ribs (call Kebab),
  • Sweetbread Ravioli & Pigs Ear
  • Rioja Red Wine

“Gandarias” 31 Agosto Road (Open Monday)

  • Sirloin Steak, called Solomillo in Spanish, idiazabal Cheese
  • Foie Gras & Iberian Ham
  • Ribera del Duero red wine (Trus Roble).

“La Viña” 31 Agosto Road

  • Cheese Cake
  • Pedro Ximenez Sweet Sherry

Other recommendations of Pintxo Bars:

“Atari” 31 Agosto Road (Open Monday)
Gin & Tonics

“La Mejillonera” Puerto Road
Patatas Bravas, Tigres (Spicy Mussels), Calamares

“A Fuego Negro” 31 Agosto Road (Sunday Vermuth)
Cobe Burger, Pera al Kalimotxo (pear into wine)

“Martinez” 31 Agosto Road (Open Monday)
Pimiento Relleno (Stuffed Pepper),Calamares

“Urola” Fermin Calbeton Road (Open Monday)
Scallop (Called Vieira in Spanish)

“Bar Nestor” Pescaderia Road

Venetian Cicchetti Recommendations

  • Cantina Do Mori – the oldest place in Venice still selling wine today. Wine: “ombra de vin” (house wine at the glass – bottled Pinot Bianco, white pinot from Veneto region, Piave river area). Cicchetti: “baccalà mantecato” (stockfish boiled for 40 mins in hot water and worked with a spoon and olive oil until it becomes pretty white);
  • All’arco – run by Matteo and his family. Wine: Refosco dal peduncolo rosso (red wine coming from Friuli Venezia Giulia region). Cicchetti: mix of just in time prepared Cicchetti including:  “robiola” cheese with truffle and porcini mushrooms; Crudo di Parma (parma ham) and “Casatella” cheese (from the nearby city of Treviso); Alici marinate (fresh anchovies marinated withe white wine vinegar); Small “caprese” sandwiches (tomato, mozzarella and basil); “Baccalà alla vicentina” (stock fish made in the Vicenza city way: cooked in the oven for several hours together with onions, milk and a lot of olive oil); soppressa and “stracchino” cheese
  • Antica Osteria Ruga Rialto (aka from elderly people with the former name “alla Letizia”) – Wine: draught “Prosecco” (white wine from Treviso city area). Cicchetti: “polpette di carne” (meatballs); express ready-made “frittura mista di pesce” (fried fish mix).
  • Osteria al diavolo e l’acquasanta – Wine: cabernet (red wine coming from Piave river area). Cicchetti: “baccalà fritto” (fried stockfish); potato croquettes; maybe “sarde in saor” (sardins marinated with white wine vinegar, onions, raisins and pinenuts);…
  • Enoteca al Volto – Wine: “ombra de vin” of bottled Pinot Grigio (grey pinot) coming from nearby the Veneto region and Friuli Venezia Giulia border. Cicchetti: “soppressa” (bigger and younger than salame); “sfilacci di cavallo” (horse meat); “bresaola di manzo” (beef salame);

My earliest food memories are of my mum’s baking; coconut pyramid cakes were my favourite.

More from Wendy Bartlett