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  • The Society of the Crossed Keys
    The Society of the Crossed Keys
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    Tuesday
    Apr222014

    pintxo astearteak (tapa tuesdays)

    astelena:::croqueta de pistacho (pistachio croquette)

    Plaza Constitución, 1::Donostia-San Sebastián.

    One of my (many) hobbies is seeking out weird croquetas. Croquetas are ubiquitious in Spain and Basque Country.  The only mandatory characteristics are a base of bechamel, some sort of coating, and fried yumminess.  This example from Astelena is unique, slightly sweet and delicious.

    Wednesday
    Apr162014

    JUICE!

    Sometimes the very thing you want is hiding right in front of you.  So many days I was feeling under the weather, or unhealthy, and found myself longing for something besides fresh-squeezed OJ. Yes, I appreciate that it's available in every respectable café for kilometers. But sometimes you just want something green, something with more oomph.  So when I walked into a cherished neighborhood café to the sign you see above, my heart skipped a beat.

    "Are these juices?" I asked.

    "Yes, fresh squeezed," said the owner.  And it's all a bit informal, you just chat a while about what you want in your juice, she might make a recommendation about what is good at the moment, and a few seconds later you have your own REAL juice.

    A beautiful specimen: beet, carrot, and orange.  Fresh squeezed fruit and veggies, to your specifications, for only 2.10. Also available to take away.

    Cafe Tal :: Calle San Francisco, 6. San Sebastián.

    Tuesday
    Apr152014

    pintxo astearteak (tapa tuesdays)

    casa urola:::espárragos a la plancha con mayonesa ajetes (grilled asparagus with young garlic mayonnaise)

    Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 20 ::Donostia-San Sebastián

    Casa Urola only relatively recently amped up their pintxo offerings, but this old town spot has long been a hidden gem and favorite of the locals.  It's the type of place where there's no wrong choice, where the menu changes daily, where produce comes directly from the producer, not from a distributor.  Their pintxos are incredible (and a great way to enjoy their cuisine on the cheap).

    Monday
    Apr142014

    Vermouth in the Gintonería

    It's been a while since I talked about La Gintonería, the bar in Gros that serves a bastion for fine drinking in a city that places a priority on pintxos. In fact, my last post was to highlight their opening. Little did I know how much I would come to enjoy it, and how devoted owner Txema and his barpeople would be to their craft.

    Imagine my surprise, then, when I *finally* take a break from their selection of a hundred or so gins and classic cocktails to request a vermouth.  In this city, you never know what might happen when you order a vermouth....a bartender may ask you, as if to correct, "Oh, a Martini?" (referring to the brand name of the world's least delicious vermouth). They may say "Marianito or vermouth?" which is a question about size, marianito being the smaller version. They may not ask you anything.  And the rarest ocurrence is when they ask you "What kind?" This means you have hit upon one of the few bars in San Sebastian that have a variety of vermouths.

    La Gintonería is one of these bars. Owner Txema pulled out all his line for me to smell, see and take pictures of: Dos Deus, several Yzaguirres, vermouth Miro, Noilly Prat, and more. I opted for the brand new vermouth from Galicia, vermut Nordesía. It's made by the folks behind Nordés Gin. Both are so new, they are hard to find both in bars and online, but trust me...they are delicious.

    La Gintonería |  Zabaleta 6, 20002 Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain |  943 02 19 56

    Wednesday
    Apr092014

    pintxo astearteak (tapa tuesdays)

    hidalgo 56:::alcachofas con jamón en texturas (artichokes three ways with crunchy Spanish jamón and jamón broth)

    Paseo Colon, 17::Donostia-San Sebastián

    This bar is one of the best in town. Just go down the checklist: bar full of great pintxos. Ample hot pintxo list. Curated wine selection. Careful product choice. Seasonality. Serious chef at the helm.  Hidalgo 56, I love you, and not because you're right under my apartment.

    Ps. Better late than never this week. Oops.