Author Archives: Jon Warren

San Sebastian Food awarded prize for services to Basque tourism & Gastronomy from The Glutton Club

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We are delighted to announce that our founder and Managing Director Jon Warren has been awarded a prize on behalf of his company San Sebastian Food for services to gastronomy in San Sebastian.
The prestigious Glutton Club Award for business was presented at a gala dinner attended by over 100 guests at Restaurant Ni Neu in San Sebastian on 13th December 2013.

The founders of The Glutton Club, Xabier de la Maza and Andoni Munduate awarded the prize to Jon Warren, San Sebastian Food creator in recognition to his work in promoting San Sebastian as a gastronomic destination.
The Glutton Club Awards 2013_San_Sebastian_food
“Through his company San Sebastian Food, Jon Warren has helped put San Sebastian on the gastronomic map.” said Andoni, who presented the award at the closing stages of the annual dinner. “It can be easily said, but such actions take a lot of time, a lot of work and of course a lot of talent.”

Jon was delighted to accept the award and gave a short speech, thanking the Glutton Club and dedicating the award to his wife, Nicole, for her long suffering support of his projects and her help over the six years he has lived in the Basque Country.

Other awards were presented including a personal award to one of Jons close friends Marti Kilpatrick for her blog and continued support of gastronomic projects in the city.

The Glutton Club is a society focused in enjoying and learning about gastronomy and culture. In 2012, they opened a pop up bakery on the River Urumea and organise year round culinary and cultural events and concerts. To read more about the award or the Glutton Club, click here.

To read more about San Sebastian Food, visit www.sansebastianfood.com

IBÉRIAN HAM CARVING MASTERCLASS

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Jamón Ibérico & Sherry Tasting Masterclass

Jamón Ibérico & Sherry Tasting Masterclass

All across Spain, jamón is king. Whether you are in the Basque Country, Catalunya, Madrid, Andalucia, or the Canary Islands, everyone in this part of the world loves Spanish cured ham.

And what’s not to love? It hits all the right notes! Salty, sweet, fatty, rich and complex, a slice of jamón is a treat for the senses and good any time of day. On toast, in sandwiches, on a salad, fried as a garnish, raw on a pintxos or just all by itself, jamón is a perfect food.

While there’s plenty of jamón in Basque pintxo bars, finding the best quality product carved by hand is not so easy. But San Sebastian Food has got you covered with a special two-hour IBÉRIAN HAM CARVING MASTERCLASS. Guided by a master in the art of jamón and paired with a flight of sherry from Jerez, this has become a favorite in-studio event!

Sylvain Explaining the Parts of la Pata

Sylvain Explaining the Parts of la Pata

The day starts with guests gathered at the wine bar with one of our elite culinary guides and local jamón master Sylvain. Sylvain trained under an expert jamónero in the south of Spain, and with his wife, runs a local gourmet delicatessen. Importing hams from a variety of different producers in the South, Sylvain continues to mature hams in his shop for months, only carves by hand and insists on the finest quality. This man really knows his pig!

Sylvain gives a great introduction to the history and culture behind Spanish ham curing along with digital slides, but it can be hard to pay attention as all eyes in the room are fixed on one thing: la pata. Propped on a wine barrel, mounted in a sleek wooden and stainless steel holster, Sylvain is upstaged by a meter of glorious, glistening Jamón Ibérico!

Sylvain Explaining the Parts of la Pata

Sylvain Explaining the Parts of la Pata

The first cut may not be the deepest, but it’s one of the most important. Sylvain gives detailed instructions on where and how to start. There’s a protocol to avoid bones, play safe and discard the yellow exterior fat before reaching the meat itself. With a quick change of knives (he works with three), Sylvain is in and slicing off paper-thin wafers for all the hungry guests.

The meat is exquisite, showcasing salinity and high notes from the cure. Delicious and fragrant, it entices you to savor each moment a little longer and then reach for another never-ending slice.

Hands On with the Jamón!

Hands On with the Jamón!

“This is a Ibérico Pata Negra Bellota which is the highest grade. These pigs only eat acorns and grass in the fall, the acorns giving a special flavor to the meat,” he explains. “You’ll see that as we carve deeper, the flavor will change, the color will change, the aromas and tastes will change as we explore the different parts to the jamón. Bien. Who wants to carve?”

An Australian man jumped up to the hoof and under Sylvain’s tutelage began shaving off glorious slices of jamón. “I’m sold. I need to buy one of these mounts!” He joked half-seriously. Everyone took turns slicing away until they were confident with their newfound craft.

Sherry was poured, a flight of four from Bodega Fernando Castilla: a Fino, a Manzanilla, an Amantiado and finally a Pedro Ximénez. One of San Sebastian Food’s wine experts walked everyone through the tasting giving detailed info on the production of sherry and how each one differed in oak treatment and age, and then carefully plied us with aroma and tasting notes, but only after everyone had come to their own conclusions on what’s in the glass.

Four stellar sherries: Fino, Manzanilla, Amantiado, Pedrox Ximénez

Four stellar sherries:
Fino, Manzanilla, Amantiado, Pedrox Ximénez

And what was in the glass was very, very good! A British couple were balled over with the taste of real sherry—this is not Harvey’s Bristol Cream and, no, this is NOT your grandmother’s drink! The Fino is pale, dry and light with an incredible bite and structure, a perfect aperitif. The Manzanilla continues the dry theme but with more body, a bit of wood seeping into the structure. The Amontillado showcases amber hues and rich nuttiness that came off its oak aging. Finally the Pedro Ximénez rounds off the tasting, with sweet dark raisin notes that scream for chocolate and pastry. Regardless of whether a sherry was sweet or dry, they all paired perfectly with the jamón.

Presenting Different Cuts of Jamón

Presenting Different Cuts of Jamón

By now Sylvain and everyone in the group had successfully carved off different sections from both the top and the bottom of the pata. The flavor changed dramatically from one part to the next, growing in complexity as we cut deeper. The aroma enveloped the room. NOW WE WERE IN THE HAM! The meat was soft and succulent, maroon with vibrant streaks of white fat, the slices longer and more oval in shape. The flavor carried a sweetness too, rounder and more full, it melts in your mouth.

After about two hours everyone was full of succulent meat and exotic tipple. Sylvain passed out vacuum-sealed packages of jamón for everyone to take home and that Australian guy wound up buying a holster! The IBÉRIAN HAM CARVING MASTERCLASS is an intimate, fun and exotic way to get better acquainted with a delicacy from beyond the Basque Country at San Sebastian Food!

The Basque Pintxo Cookbook

Our Cookbook is on Amazon Kindle!

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“Pintxos are all about having fun with your food, sharing good times with friends,
enjoying a drink or two and celebrating the delicious side of life!”

-Jon Warren, Founder San Sebastian Food

Due to popular demand, San Sebastian Food’s “The Basque Pintxo Cookbook” is now available as an eBook for immediate download on amazon.com

The Basque Pintxo Cookbook

The Basque Pintxo Cookbook

Over 25 easy-to-follow recipes are in the book and can all be completed in a matter of minutes, some do not even require an oven. Practical tips and tricks in the book will help readers to save time in the kitchen and create stunning displays. Recommendations for beverage pairing and instructions on how to throw a successful pintxo party are also included making this an inspiring and dynamic read.

Click HERE to order your copy for just €2.99 and learn enough Basque kitchen secrets to turn you into a Pintxo Master!

The Best Lunch in the World!

Basque Restaurant Cooking Experience

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The Best Lunch in the World!

The Best Lunch in the World!

One of the most beloved excursions at San Sebastian Food is the Basque Restaurant Cooking Experience. More than a ‘talk and chop’ this is a real adventure!

The fun begins with the journey. A private van whisks guests from the San Sebastian Food studio to the outskirts of town–don’t blink or you’ll miss Arzak–round the bend of Mount Ulia. At the port of Pasaia everyone walks the plank to embark on a brightly painted boat that appears to have come straight out of a Popeye cartoon!

Pasaia Port

Pasaia Port

The quick voyage navigates you across a channel through anchored skiffs and under steep green cliffs. The adorable hamlet of San Juan is waiting for you, with its brightly colorful homes and dancing waters. Hop off the boat and you’ll feel like a pirate walking along cobbled paths and under stone arches en route to the restaurant where the fun continues.

Right on the banks of port with incredible views stretching all the way out to sea, the restaurant has one of the most oceanesque dining rooms in the world. But there’s little time to get comfortable, after a rich Spanish coffee it’s off to the kitchen!

Waterfront Dining Room

Waterfront Dining Room

Chef Alex and his sous chef take the lead while a guide from San Sebastian Food jumps in for translations. It’s go go go from here on out. This is no joke, this is a real restaurant, this is a real kitchen and you are there to make the specials of the day!

“OK, look at the chalk board, because that’s what chef says is the freshest and what we’re going to do today,” said Ellie, our guide and translator. “And here are the ingredients.” Laid out on a stainless steel work bench were three of the world’s biggest crabs, a meter long fish with a grill of sharp teeth, piles of white asparagus, fresh anchovies, vegetables, herbs, spices and what was quite possibly the largest steak this food writer’s ever seen!

Basque Restaurant Cooking Experience

Basque Restaurant Cooking Experience

Most of the group broke up into pairs, some people decided to fly solo. A well-dressed Parisian woman excitedly called out, “I want to clean the anchovies! I’ve always wanted fresh Cantabrians.” She was on! Another student leaped for the pile of priceless fresh white Basque asparagus.

White Asparagus from Navarra

White Asparagus from Navarra

The chefs demonstrated everything to the group, how to clean the txipirones (local squid), how to break down the enormous hake, how best to handle delicate white asparagus from Navarra. Onions and garlic were fried, crabs were boiled and that massive sirloin was prepped with nothing more than salt, pepper and love. With ingredients this fresh, little manipulation is needed to coax the best flavors.

Chef Alex in Action

Chef Alex in Action

It was exciting, it was fast, it was fun and it was real. Everyone got hands-on and everyone got to try different things, from butchering, to frying and saucing, to drinking wine! The menu changes daily but in the end we made six different dishes including anchovies three ways, white asparagus salad, crab, a twist on traditional Basque marmitako stew with squid, merluza (hake) in green sauce and grilled sirloin. Impossible to leave hungry!

Hands-On!

Hands-On!

Before taking a seat at the communal table in the dining room a toast of Txakoli, the beloved local wine, is poured as the feast begins. More wine flows as the food, that YOU JUST MADE, comes out from the kitchen with beautiful presentation and flair. It is, without question, one of the best and most exciting lunches you will ever have!

After more wine, dessert, coffee and a sip of patxaran (the local liquor) and a little more wine it’s back on the boat to cross the channel and back in the van to San Sebastián just in time for siesta! It’s a delicious, fun and intense morning, and after a nap and a brisk walk you’ll be ready to hit the bars for more pintxos and more gastronomic adventures! Click here to sign up for the Basque Restaurant Cooking Experience!

Back to San Sebastian Food!

Back to San Sebastian Food!

SOUP CROP sml

Our New Cookbook & Peach Gazpacho Recipe

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SOUP CROP sml

San Sebastian Food is proud to announce the release of “The Basque Pintxo Cookbook”. Available in our studio and online for just €12.50, this book is the pintxo authority. Over 25 classic, easy to prepare and fun recipes plus a handy glossary are included. Gathering these traditional recipes from local friends, grandmothers and tabernas has been delightful fun and we’re so excited with the results that we’ve already begun work on a second edition. Scroll down for a sample recipe from the book with lovely photos by our new photographer Aiala Hernando.

San Sebastian Food

San Sebastian Food

Ingredients

Ingredients

Gazpacho Method

Gazpacho Method

TXIPIRONERA

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San Sebastian Food Interior

San Sebastian Food Interior

Everyone who walks into San Sebastian Food is amazed by the decorative feature greeting them in the studio. It was owner Jon Warren’s vision to have something authentic, adventurous and whimsical on the floor. How about an antique, wooden, fishing boat? And no boat better represents San Sebastián more than a brightly painted txipironera!

Txipiron (“chip-ee-rhone”) is the Basque name for the local squid that grace the menus of every pintxo bar and restaurant in town. Gifts from the sea, these calamari are small, tender and absolutely succulent. They are line-caught by fishermen in small skiffs frequently seen bobbing in the Cantabrian Sea.

The Tiny Port of San Sebastián

The Tiny Port of San Sebastián

Traditionally the boats were made of wood and painted in the colors of the Basque flag: green, white and red, but they’re mostly a thing of the past as fiberglass models have taken over. Today there’s about sixty of the small boats, most of them owned by hobbyist abuelos, docked in the quaint port of San Sebastián.

“I had the idea for about six months actually, but I’m not sure where it came from,” explained Jon. “We needed a bar and we needed a desk, but in place of those I just thought it would look amazing to have an old wooden boat to welcome guests.”

Jon put the word out that he was looking for an old Txipironera, or squid boat, but there were no bites. “One day, as we were preparing to move into the studio, an adorable old fisherman named Clemente showed up saying he’d heard an English guy was looking for a boat,” Jon reminisced. “He took me down to the port and there she was!”

Jon meeting the Azkarra!

Jon meeting the Azkarra!

The “AZKARRA”, Basque for rapido, was about 40 years old and badly in need of repairs. Both Clemente and his vessel had simultaneously decided to retire. Jon bought the boat immediately.

The old men and the sea.

The old men and the sea.

“It wasn’t until we got her out of the water that we realized how big she was,” Jon explained. “There was no way we’d be able to fit the entire ship into the studio unless we cut it in half.”

Jon’s friend Iñaki, a local carpenter, and his son used handsaws to go straight down the middle. The job took nearly two days and was further complicated by the hundreds of nails and bolts buried inside the wooden hull. Iñaki doubted the success of the operation, but with Jon’s support, pushed on.

Christening the boat with saws.

Christening the boat with saws.

After having the boat trucked across town and removing the front doors to the studio to make way, the mighty AZKARRA was finally in place. Iñaki fit the boat with custom legs for stability and, with Jon, designed and ordered tempered glass tabletops. In the end, the famous TXIPI BAR was born!

One half of the boat is the communal desk used by the staff at San Sebastian Food. The other half of the AZKARRA greets visitors as they enter and serves as a comfortable bar to enjoy wine tastings and special events.

In Studio Wine Tastings

In Studio Wine Tastings

“It was a big project, a lot of work and perhaps a little crazy,” Jon reflected, “but it was worth it. I love it, our staff loves it and our guests love it!”

Drop in to meet the AZKARRA for yourself, pull up a chair and enjoy a glass of wine. The boat makes for one of the most unique bars in town and is a living piece of port heritage that’s been given a new voyage at San Sebastián Food.

Getting Here

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Playa La Concha

Playa La Concha

San Sebastián is easy to reach and we whipped up this post to help guide your arrival so that it’s effortless, comfortable and stylish, just like our lovely city! Usually a destination with so much charm, originality and stunning natural wonder takes extra effort to access, but that is not the case with San Sebastián!

OK, no, we don’t have a large airport in town, nor is there high-speed rail service, but these two omissions have helped the city stay less crowded and retain its authenticity. You won’t find eyesore resorts or cheesy beach shops polluting San Sebastián and its surrounding nature. Instead, you’ll enter a timeless and sophisticated beach town unparalleled in the world, with curious and friendly locals, delicious cuisine and a joie de vivre that will stay with you long after your visit. And it is easy to get here, which we’ve already mentioned, so what are you waiting for? Let’s go to the beach!

BY AIR
Most long haul flights to Spain arrive in Madrid or Barcelona and connections to the Basque Country are frequent and fast. The three airports servicing San Sebastián are small and easy to access making check-ins and landings a breeze.

San Sebastián Airport (EAS)
The nearest airport is just 20 minutes from San Sebastián near the French border in Hondarribia. The tiny airport is only serviced by Iberia, Veuling and Air Nostrum airlines with direct flights to and from Madrid and Barcelona daily. Taxi service will bring you from the airport to the center of San Sebastián in under a half hour.

Biarritz Airport (BIQ)
Biarritz, France is the next closest option for flights with a large number of connections throughout Europe, especially France. A comfortable shuttle bus operated by PESA makes a daily connection to and from San Sebastián in less than an hour for €10. Taxi service will also bring you to San Sebastián in about 45 minutes for about €120.

Bilbao Airport (BIO)
The Bilbao Airport is the largest in the Basque Country with a large number of connections to nearly every major airport in Spain and a number of international flights across Europe, Turkey and North Africa. PESA runs clean and efficient airport shuttles hourly, with a journey time of about one hour and ten minutes for €17. Taxi service is also available, takes about one hour, and costs a good €130.

HELICOPTER
In a hurry? Want to arrive like a VIP? We can arrange helicopter travel for you and offer private service to the Rioja for our most demanding clients. Please contact us for more information.

Here’s a list with links to the main airlines servicing our three closest airports:

AerLingus (BIO)
AirBerlin (BIO)
AirEuropa (BIO)
AirFrance (BIQ, BIO)
AirNostrum (BIO, EAS)
Alitalia (BIO)
DarwinAirline (BIQ)
EasyJet (BIQ, BIO)
HOP! (BIQ)
Germanwings (BIO)
Iberia (EAS, BIO)
Lufthansa (BIO)
Norwegian (BIO)
Ryanair (BIQ)
SAS (BIQ)
Smartwings (BIO)
Transavia (BIQ)
Vueling (EAS, BIO)
Volotea (BIQ)
BY BUS
Do you suffer from bus phobia? So do we, but not here! Fear not, the airport shuttles, regional (PESA) and national (ALSA) bus lines are no jalopies. Bus travel in Spain is affordable, efficient and surprisingly comfortable. Each time we ride the bus we’re amazed with the level of cleanliness and comfort. In fact the journey to town is downright relaxing with large reclining seats and elevated views of the surrounding Basque mountains and countryside.

ALSA operates multiple buses a day between Madrid (six hours), Barcelona (eight hours), Bilbao (90 minutes), Pamplona (one hour), Santander (two hours) and just about any other destination in Spain you need to reach. Without question, this is the number one bus company in Spain travelling from each corner of the peninsula and everywhere in between.

PESA is the regional carrier for the greater San Sebastián area accessing Bilbao (one hour), numerous local destinations and a handful of spots in the French Basque Country including Biarritz and Bayonne (just over an hour each). PESA also operates the daily airport shuttle to Biarritz and hourly airport shuttles to Bilbao.

The bus station in San Sebastian is located next to the “De Pio XII Plaza” around the corner from the Hotel Astoria 7. From here, a lovely 20-minute walk or a swift taxi ride is all it takes to get you barefoot on the beach!

BY CAR
Driving in the Basque Country is delightful. The AP-8 national motorway in Spain (connecting Bilbao to San Sebastián) is sleek and efficient (tolls are collected) and smaller local roads will wind you along the coastline and through mountains affording vistas that are priceless. The same goes for the French side of the Basque Country where the A63 highway will take you to Biarritz and beyond all the way to Bordeaux. Why not make a day-trip out of the journey? Go slow, enjoy lunch in small fishing village or mountain pueblo.

Avis, Europcar and Hertz are the three major car rental agencies in the area and are available at all of the named airports and most major rail stations, including those in France.

Want to bring your own wheels? Brittany Ferries offers services from Portsmouth and Plymouth in the UK to both Santander and Bilbao. Trust us, there’s nothing more thrilling then the feel of an Aston Martin’s wheels gripping the Basque coastline!

BY RAIL
All great European cities are connected by rail. It’s a timeless and classic way to travel after all! San Sebastian has two rail stations, the main RENFE station (a mere five minute walk from the San Sebastián Food studio) and the local EUSKOTREN metro line in the neighborhood of Amara.

RENFE is the national rail service of Spain and our station in San Sebastián welcomes trains from both Barcelona (twice daily) and Madrid (several daily) with journey times averaging five and a half hours. Service runs from Pamplona (twice daily, under two hours) and many other locations throughout Spain. Prices are reasonable and often competitive with bus travel.

SanSebastian-Web-55

By plane, by rail, by car, or by bus, there are many ways to arrive to San Sebastián gracefully. If you’re in a hurry, splurge on helicopter service with your next best option being plane and taxi. Many locals say it’s best to save the money for wine, food and more wine though, so don’t sweat it if you take the rails or bus your way into town. And once you’re here, walking, biking and swimming are the only transportation you’ll really need to properly explore this gorgeous and delicious destination! After all you can’t make a wrong turn or arrive in bad form in a city as fabulous as San Sebastián.

Don’t hesitate to contact us with any travel queries, bookings or questions. For more information see our website sansebastianfood.com

SIP • SHOP • STUDIO

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Where to go first? It can be a make or break decision for any traveller who has just arrived in a new destination, as it will set the pace for the rest of your visit. Make sure you land in San Sebastián Style with a premium holiday experience that’s authentic, relaxed and delicious. Come straight to the studio at San Sebastián Food!

Studio-Exterior

Our sexy little outpost is a calm and inviting spot for you to get your bearings and prepare for culinary immersion in San Sebastián. We’re right in the heart of the old town where we check the pulse of the city daily and are always happy to dish on where to go and what to eat.

Of course you don’t have to venture far as our studio features a new shop with a wide variety of local, regional and pan-Iberian snacks and gifts. Wines are poured by the glass all day long and if you catch us at just the right time you can join in on one of our gastro-tours or tasting seminars.

Wine-Classic

Sommelier Maitena Barrero stocks our cellar with weekly rotations of eight exotic pours of top wines. Plus there’s Sherry from Andalucia if you fancy something from further south. Want to take one with you? All of our wines are available for purchase as well.

One of our new highlights in the studio is the growing display of small-batch, artisanal gourmet products sourced by team member Kirstin Soldevilla. The poor girl spends countless hours sampling everything from biscuits and chocolate, to olive oils and spices, to preserves and pâtés.

Kirstin-2

Our shop’s selection is mostly Basque with heavy influence on neighboring out-of-the-way villages, though we’ve been known to dip further afoot to bring in some treats from Galicia, Andalusia and La Mancha as well. One of Kirsten’s top pics right now is an exclusive selection of sundries from La Cuna in the village of Tolosa, including Porcini with White Truffle Pâté and Confit of Red Peppers. You won’t find these anywhere else in town.

Additionally we’re one of the only San Sebastián purveyors to stock Espelette- the mysterious dried pepper from the French Basque countryside. A secret weapon amongst top chefs in Paris, take a jar home to liven up your next dinner party! We also carry exotic salts from local producer Sal de Añano, which are so outstanding you’ll never reach for that box of Maldon again!

Shopper-1

Whether you want to take something home with you, prepare for a deluxe picnic on the beach, grab a bottle for dinner or just delve right into a taste of the good life that is San Sebastián, our studio has everything you need.

So drop in, enjoy a glass and get to know the real San Sebastián! We’re here to make sure your first stop is the right one and set the pace for your luxurious holiday with San Sebastián Food.