Regions explored: Basque Country, Catalunia
Length: 6 days
Date: March 12th to – 18th, 2019
Availability: Limited to 12 guests
❀ A true one-of-a-kind opportunity for an insider San Sebastián culinary experience.
❀ Access to award-winning, difficult-to-book restaurants in the Culinary Capital of Europe.
❀ Spend time in the intimate company of interesting and like-minded people from all over the world.
❀ A journey through hidden gems guided by one of the world’s 10 best culinary guides.
Here’s a tiny taste of what you can expect to experience on our Best of San Sebastian tour.
Asador Etxebarri nestled deep in the Urkiola mountains of Vizcaya is surrounded by green fields and craggy peaks. The entrance takes you through a simple village bar. Once upstairs, though, you are transported to another world, a space at once refined and rustic.
Chef Bittor Arginzoniz dominates that most primal, most basic, most ancient element of fire which he applies with a delicate touch to the best raw ingredients. Using a deceptively simple technique, he elevates them as close as possible to their Platonic ideal.
Bittor and his staff plan to create an unforgettable meal for us on the cusp of spring when some of his favorite ingredients will be at their height. In 2018 Etxebarri will be reducing it’s capacity to half (barely 20 guests a day). We are one of the few groups allowed.
Elkano is a classic restaurant, a cozy restaurant, a Basque restaurant. Its fish and seafood are peerless. The setting and service are warm, refined, and unfussy. Owner Aitor Arregi expects rodaballo (turbot) to be at its height during our visit. His father was the pioneer in grilling turbot whole over chestnut coals.
The crispy skin, the delicate buttery flesh, the crunchy fins, the squishy bits around the head: all are meant to be eaten in turn, and Aitor will come to the table to give us directions and advice; it’s almost like a piscine anatomy lesson. In a long lineup of Basque grill experts, Elkano is a leader of the pack.
Photos by my dear friend Aiste (Luxeat) who also wrote:
After the amazing turbot at Elkano and mouth-watering Galician beef at Etxebarri, it was off to Ibai, another Basque gem in San Sebastian focusing on excellent ingredients. Alicio Garro might not be famous internationally, but he is one of the finest chefs I’ve ever encountered. When perfect, seasonal ingredients are concerned, Basque country is very much like Japan: minimal cooking and maximum freshness is what counts mo
The real action in San Sebastián starts at nightfall when the international crowd of foodies mingles with the local and hops from one pintxos bar to another to try their best creations with a glass of Txakoli, cider or beer.
The Hungry Tourist’s sanctuary and foodies’ heaven.
Chef Oriol Rovira’s Els Casals is more than just a restaurant. It’s a way of life. Set within farmland owned by the Rovira family for over 600 years, Els Casals offers cuisine from the land in which the majority of products come from the family’s own farm or nearby producers: vegetables and fruit, eggs, milk and dairy products, poultry, pork, mushrooms, truffles, etc.
The cuisine is highly dependent on the seasonality of products, which are always treated with the highest respect so they may be appreciated and enjoyed in the best conditions.
Estimar is a tribute to a love for the sea and its raw materials, and the brainchild of Rafa Zafra and Anna Gotanegra, his wife. Zafra brings to the table a lifetime of experience in the kitchen that started when he was 16, working in Seville at Tristán, then Arzak, and most notably for several years at Feran Adria’s El Bulli.
Anna, who manages the restaurant, completes Rafa’s rare talent in the kitchen with deep roots that go back to 1895 in the fish market of plaza Sant Pere de Roses, which ensure the restaurant a daily supply of the best quality products.
Gabriella Ranelli de Aguirre is a leading expert and longtime foreign observer of Spanish and Basque cuisine and culture. A native New Yorker, Gabriella has called San Sebastian home since the 1980s, and working closely with local chefs has seen the evolution of Basque cuisine throughout its most formative decades.
She founded Tenedor Tours in 1997 as the first food & wine travel company in the Basque Country and holds a Master’s in Viticulture and Oenology.
Gabriella has appeared and collaborated on food and travel programs for the BBC, PBS, CNN, Al-Jazeera, and on Spanish and Basque television. The Wall Street Journal named her as one of the world’s top 10 food guides.
Gabriella will be our specialized guide-on-the-ground during our time in the Basque Country, taking us on a journey from A to Z in Basque grilling techniques through classic Basque bars, and up to the (Michelin) stars.
Since opening in 1912, the restored Hotel Maria Cristina has been closely linked to the history and cultural life of San Sebastian and . the favored accommodation for international high society and movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, Woody Allen, Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Brad Pitt and Susan Sarandon.
Decorated in a sophisticated palette of greys and white, the rooms are a quiet haven of luxury, style, technology and a dazzling range of services which, combined, make for an unforgettable stay.
Itinerary and Hotels
Meeting in Barcelona airport on Monday, March 12th for a flight to Bilbao
Kick-off meal: Lunch at Extebarri at 13:00
San Sebastian: March 12th to March 17th, Maria Cristina Hotel
Flight back to Barcelona on Saturday, March 17th in the morning and a shuttle to Els Casals
Last Night: March 17th to March 18th, Els Casals
Last meal: Lunch at Estimar, Barcelona on March 18th at 13:00
Price includes all food, beverages, taxes, service charges, domestic transportation and 5 nights of accommodation.
Price does not include airfare and any travel or medical insurance.
Extra nights: in Barcelona before or after the tour can be booked in advance at the following hotels at special rates:
Mandarin Oriental Barcelona
A Note on Set Menus
The menus offered during the tour are selected by The Hungry Tourist with the help of our local partners. We believe they represent the best culinary fare Catalunia and the Basque Country have to offer. Guests may order outside of these menus at their own expense.
A non-refundable deposit of Euro 800 per person will be charged upon reservation.
The balance will be charged to your credit card 60 days prior to the first day of the tour.
Cancellation Policy and Penalties
If cancellation is received up to 30 days before the first day of the tour, the deposit will be forfeited.
If cancellation is received up to 10 days before the first day of the tour, a penalty fee of 50% of the remaining balance will be charged. If cancellation notice is received within 10 days of the first day of the tour or the guest is a no-show, the entirety of the remaining balance will be charged.