Fermin Calbeton 12
20003 San Sebastian – Donostia
I’ve been eating pintxos (pronounced “pinchos”) all across Euskadi, which is what the Basque people call their region in their own language of Euskara. There will be a long pintxos rundown at some point, but for now here’s a quick hit from San Sebastian. Pintxos generally are one to three bites in size and range in price from 1 to 3.50 euro. In San Sebastian in particular, however, these (very) small plates have been elevated into a high-art form in some kind of game of culinary one-upmanship amongst the countless pintxos establishments. Needless to say, it’s the customers who win in the end.
Borda Berri, located in the Parte Vieja (“Old Part”) of San Sebastian, is one of the places held in great regard by many, and it’s easy to see why. Every single dish here was remarkable in both concept and execution.
The ubiquitous tortilla (in Spain, a frittata-like dish with a basic composition of potatoes, cheese and eggs to which all kinds of other things can be added) here is elevated with cheek and ear meat. This is not your standard tortilla! The mushroom risotto honed in on perfect execution with amazing precision. Quite likely the best risotto I’ve ever had.
Another common dish, foie a la plancha, has an amazing sear on it underneath of which is medium-rare foie gras with a texture that is almost unreal in its softness. Beautiful sauce accompaniments make this one of the best pintxos I’ve had. The tempura bacalao (salt-cured cod) is also beyond reproach, with beautiful frying and a delicately-flavored bacalao inside.
I can’t say enough good things about this place. One disadvantage is that you have to wait until after around 7 or 7:30 pm until it opens to get your pintxos fix due to the incredibly-late hour that the Spanish choose to eat. Otherwise, it’s probably the best out of more than a dozen good pintxos places that I’ve tried. Do not miss if you’re ever in the area.