Saturday, 6 February 2010

The little hand

For the past three nights I've found myself heading up the same dark, secluded side street, on the hunt for something to satisfy my cravings. I tried it once, and immediately I was addicted. Now I can't get enough.  

I've poked my nose around Calle Agosto, and headed to the dimly lit bar on the corner for what I think might be the best pintxo I've had yet in San Sebastian. The place is called La Cuchara de San Telmo, and despite being in it's tenth year of business, locals still describe it as leading the next generation of pintxo bars in the region. It's slightly more contemporary than a lot of the bars in town, with the kind of almost-grungy style that they seem to do so well in Spain. It's a tiny little place, around the side of the church of Santa Maria in the Parte Viejo, barely big enough for the bar, let alone a kitchen and a room full of diners.

Since Wednesday, I've eaten an amazingly tender braised ox cheek, served in a rich red wine gravy; light and crispy tempura de bacalao; a 'cannelloni' filled with pig, lamb and beef offal stew; grilled rabbit's leg, served with a thin salsa verde, similar to the one I had in Vitoria; pulpo 'Roca' - the Basque way, cooked a la planxa, and served with pickled cabbage; and my personal favourite - for the name if nothing more - Manita de Ministro, or the 'little hand' of a pig. A fried trotter, to you and I.

There's none of your standard pintxo sitting out to dry on the bar top. Instead of drawing punters in with a huge spread consisting mainly of ham plus X on toast, they concentrate on giving the most traditional of Basque recipes a modern twist, and serving them fresh from the kitchen, but in miniature. An absolute must visit for anyone in San Sebastian...

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