The Feast of St. Thomas or Feria de Santo Tomas
You can smell the txistorra (chorizo) and talo (special bread) all around the city. The streets are packed with people dressed in traditional Basque costumes, there are endless stands in both Gipuzkoa and Constitional Square, where you will find the star of the festival, “Jaxinta” pig.
In the mid 19th Century, every 21st of December, farmers of the province moved to the capital to pay annual rents to landowners. The farmers took advantage of their trip to town to get items that they did not have in their own village, and at the same time, sell their best products. Thus they realized that holding a fair was necessary, and this is how St. Thomas festival began in the local Constitution Square.
Since then, not wanting to lose this tradition, when this day arrives, San Sebastián becomes a large rural market in which txistorra (chorizo) is the star. The stalls are loaded also with local cheese, honey, bread, vegetables, cider and typical Basque crafts.
This pot is roasting chestnuts
This is one of the hot spots for a steak dinner in San Sebastián, Texvelta Bar & Restaurant located in the old city.
The steak is their famous T-Bone, cooked to perfection, the veggies is actually Lima beans with tiny bits of local beacon.
Salad with the local favorite roasted peppers.
Being our first time in San Sebastián, we have to say how much we love this city. There is so much to see, do, eat… and lots of walking. From modern city to old city, to ancient city and fisherman seaside. When planning this month long journey, friends who had been here all exclaimed how much they loved this city.
It's amazing to watch the Atlantic Ocean crash with amazing waves between the walls into the river in the city… Very exciting.
Today we decided to go and see the ancient walled in city in Hondarribia, also called the ancient old quarter with amazing walls and a castle.
Hondarribia (“sand ford” in Basque, is situated on the west shore of Bidasoa river's mouth, in Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, Spain. The border town is sited on a little promontory facing Hendaye (France) over the Txingudi bay. A service boat makes the trip between the two cities. It's amazing to be able to another country so close.
After walking around the old city, we had lunch at a wonderful little restaurant within the ancient city walls. Restaurant Sebastián was perfect for a light lunch. Not to mention, the room was really charming and our waitress spoke English.
Top: we had ham and bread
Bottom: roasted local peppers and a seafood salad…. All delicious.
We took a taxi about half an hour out of the city to have a dining experience to be remembered. We had the great pleasure of eating at Zuberoa.
Chef Hilario Arbelaitz inherited from his mother his love of traditional dishes using quality ingredients. This is a family run restaurant that follows the philosophy of using exceptional ingredients to create the best seasonal dishes. The kitchen in the beginning was traditional but now is modern while remembering the roots of Basque cuisine.
There is also Eusebius, Chef Hilario's brother who together with his wife Arantxa not only keep everything running smoothly, but Eusebius knows the extensive wine list quite well and can help with choosing the best local wine for your dinner
The Restaurant is located in one of the most ancient villages Oiartzun, and its walls have been faithful witness to the passage of more than six hundred years.
This was probably the most extraordinary foie gras we have ever tasted. They called it royal foie gras with cream and cherry. The bottom (you can't see) is the whipped foie gras, the dark layer is a cherry aspec and the top is white truffle foam.
This was called blue fish with amazing little tastes of creams
Baby lamb roasted in the oven for hours, just fell off the bones.
Roasted sea bassinet wine with artichokes and grilled mini leeks.
Amazing apple pie with vanilla ice cream
Their famous cheese cake that is beyond words
We are ready to hit the streets of San Sebastián and it's lunch time, it's a rainy day so we decide to see what the hotel has to offer. It turns out they have a very high end Chinese restaurant, so we say let's try it. Tse-Yang the room was beautiful, and the food amazing.
After lunch, we walked through the old city all the wat to the harbor to visit the aquarium.
Acuario de San Sebastián
Walking through this tunnel was spooky, you felt like you were under the water.
We've arrived in San Sebastián, staying at the beautiful Hotel Maria Cristina. Opened in 1912, this hotel has always been a part of history and cultural life of San Sebastián. Click on the link above to read more.
So of course we are in Spain, in Basque region. The hotel put together a walking list of places for us to go out and experience tapas/bar hopping. Tapas here is called pintxo. We made it through five….
Zeruko was the most modern, the top was an amazing lobster that you eat while you then take in the aroma of the liquid below, which was rose scented. See the smoke, you don't drink the liquid.
Other stops we made besides Zeruko were Txondorra, Atari, LaVina, where have their famous cheese cake. The hotel actually had a walking map telling us where to go, very easy.