Friday, September 10, 2010

San Sebastián Week 2 and Tortilla Espanõla

San Sebastián Week 2 and Tortilla Española

YES I can blog again!  I'm sorry it has taken so long but we still dont have wireless internet hooked up! Wow I have a lot to say its almost overwhelming, but bare with me. Brittany, Lexie and I have spent several hours sitting at an outdoor bar crowding our three laptops onto a tiny table to use their wi-fi (or "wee-fee" as they say it).  These first two weeks in San Sebastián have been incredible.   I am already in love with our apartment even though I feel like it was decorated by a ninety year old cat lady.  It has three bedrooms, a bathroom, a tiny kitchen and tiny living room, but its home :) Since moving into our little flat I have learned SO much more about the city.  The above photo is the view from our living room window.  I continue to be charmed by the number of people sitting at the bars below us each and every day for their afternoon sangria or glass of wine.

Naturally, I've done a significant amount of food investigation since I've been here. Tapas, or pinxtos (peen-chos) in basque, are by far the main dining option in San Sebastián and all over Spain.  Pinxtos are small bites that are sold cold at the bar of a restaurante or ordered warm from the kitchen.  Originally, the pinxtos tradition was invented to keep people from getting drunk as they hopped from bar to bar throughout the night.  Now, San Sebastián is known for its delicious bars and restaurants that offer the small savory dishes.  

Among the seemingly endless amount of bars and restaurants there is a surprising number of Turkish "Doner" Kebab places.  We discovered these kebobs early on and have since compared them to a New York hot dog stand because of their presence on every other street corner.  These aren´t the same kebabs that we are used to back home (see Chili Chicken Mango Kebabs). These kebobs are different and they´re awesome. The chicken is topped with lettuce, a spicy red sauce, and creamy white yogurt sauce that makes it sloppy to eat but well worth the mess and pile of napkins. However, I took a peek into the kitchen of one of the kebab places only to discover that the chicken is shaved from a large mass of chicken parts somehow glued together and spinning vertically on a spit. Questionable.  But delicious nonetheless.  My recommendation to anyone who visits Spain would be to try the kebab, but forego watching them prepare it.

Another popular dessert item around here is called  Dulce de Membrillo which is literally a brick of quince jelly.  Quince is a fruit that is basically hybrid between an apple and a pear.  Dulce de Membrillo is sticky, dark orange in color and as you can see, does not look especially appetizing.  The texture is like a combination of apple sauce and Jell-O, the taste can be described as such as well.  If you´ve ever eaten those fruit leather snacks as a kid, you get the gist.                                                                  

As for cooking, I will most definitely make pinxtos throughout the semester so that you can get a feel for what I've been eating. However, the cooking resources here are not what I am used to, to say the least.  It's going to take me a little while to get used to the limited amount of cookware in the kitchen and foreign ingredients that are available to me in the local markets.  To the right is the little set I've been using in our kitchen for my photos.  I found those black lights in one of our closets. Natural light coming through that window is hard to come by as there is another apartment building about ten feet away. Opposite the kitchen table there is a small fridge, horrendously inadequate counter space, and and unreliable set of stove burners.  The oven has yet to be tested.  I'll get around to that as soon as I figure out how to turn it on.

For my first cooking experience in San Sebastián I decided to get in the Spanish spirit and make a traditional Tortilla Española.  Tortilla Española is essentially a potato omelette and should´ve been easy enough to make.  It was a semi-flop.  Perhaps it was the egg yolks that are distinctively more orange than egg yolks in the United States.  Either way, it´s a little difficult to cook when a recipe calls for ingredients using the American system of measurements but the food here is weighed using the metric system.  Not to mention the complete lack of any measuring device in our flat.  Oh well.  I followed the recipe and the flavor was there but somehow the proportions did NOT work out.  Way too much potato and not enough egg.  Hey, we ate the whole thing anyway.  I´ll try again once I get a little more in the swing of things.

There are SO many things I want to cook while I´m here.  However, I´ll probably have to adjust that list to better suit my current cookware/ appliance situation.  There are actually several things I´ll have to adjust to while I´m here: navigating my bike through crowded sidewalks, the merely suggestive nature of all traffic lights, the fact that every door is "Push" as opposed to "Pull", hanging my laundry out on a clothes line, checking the weather before hanging my laundry out on the clothes line etc...  So that's what I've been up to.  One of my regular posts is coming up in the very near future!  Tonight we're celebrating Lexie's twentieth birthday and I'm making the hors d'oeuvres...


  1. dulce de membrillo is best with a tall glass of ice cold millk... I'm hungry already.

  2. Hi, Brigid! Great to get your update! If you get a chance, ask Tim about the tortilla I tried to make for him after his stay in Santiago de Compostella... Total disaster, so I can sympathize! Take care, Debbie