Spain – The Best Stuff We Ate

  • Chuleton at a basque restaurant in San Sebastian. What an experience. We liked how they bring out a huge raw T-bone steak and leave it at your table for a few minutes, so you can hang out with your beef and really get to know it.
  • Ham. All of the ham. We get iberico ham in the States on occasion, and it’s incredible, and expensive, and usually it’s just “iberico ham.” In Spain? Iberico is a universe of cured pork. It hangs from ceilings in bars, is sold in little specialty shops, and (our personal favorite) takes up an entire aisle at the grocery store, where they sell it either sliced or just whole, if you’re the kind of family with a prosciutto slicer in your kitchen. Also, in the market in Barcelona one can buy a ham cone, which is a paper cone filled with ham, sliced or cubed, sometimes paired with cheese or breadsticks, for your snacking pleasure. That’s the kind of little detail that can really make a trip.
  • Tapas at Bergara in San Sebastian. So good and friendly we went twice. I was partial to the mini burger with real wasabi. Julie fell hard for a truffle risotto with foie gras. Fi liked the heart-shaped lollipops they gave her after dinner.
  • Chuleton at Hostal Remona. Every bit as good as the one in San Sebastian, if slightly different.
  • Lebaniego at Hostal Remona. It’s a regional specialty stew with garbanzo beans and four or five different meats, plus sides. Funny story: Our first night at Remona for dinner we ordered both the chuleton and the lebaiego – one steak and one of stew for the whole family? Seemed reasonable, until the very kind proprietor gently informed us, “I think… I think it is too much.” He was right. One per evening was more than enough – and absolutely delicious.
  • Tortillas at Jen and Jose’s place in Aguilar de Campoo, perfectly prepared by Jose. We are forever ruined for any other Spanish tortillas.
  • A simple chicken, patatas fritas, and cider lunch at a little bar in Potes, Picos de Europa. I’m a sucker for a bar with hams hanging from the ceiling, and this place did not disappoint.
  • Padron peppers. We had them everywhere we could, including a batch I slightly undercooked on the grill in Celtigos.
  • Chuleton on the grill at Celtigos. It felt pretty darned good to grill one of these for ourselves. Also, the buying process involved asking the butcher for one, and then watching him basically cross-section a cow with a cleaver. It was impressive.

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