A Day Out In Donosti with Idoia…Then A Surprise!

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Donosti Crew

Our good mate Idoia, who runs our local taberna, invited us to a Day in Donosti (San Sebastián) for a personally guided pintxo stroll…and a wee bit of lunch. And we were also told to keep the evening, round 6:45pm, free for a surprise!

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Our first port of call was a mutual favourite – Bar Goiz Argi. The Hounds had discovered this place on our recon strip more than 3 years ago and have been back many times since to enjoy its tasty offerings, in a tiny, tiny space in the Old Town.

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Calamari & Shrimps & Cervezas

A recent discovery has been their hot calamari pintxo, of which 2 are needed to satisfy our hunger…slathered in a minced garlic oil, grilled to a slightly caramelised brown – estupendo! The sauce is oh so good wiped up with some bread brooms…Idoia took the gambas (shrimps) path and polished off 4 perfectly seared specimens…and, of course, some cervazas!

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Top Left: Hot Duck; Mushroom Rice; Veal Cheek

Idoia had her list ready, but some of the bars were not co-operating, and for the random Spanish reasons we have not fully fathomed, they were closed on a sweet Thursday arvo. So on we trudged and landed at the next open place for some hot, made-to-order pintxos at a joint I’d forgotten to get or remember the name of – shite. This place was in the very same vein as La Cuchara de San Telmo, one of our regular Donosti pintxo stops (when we can squeeze in). There’s nothing displayed on the bar, just a hand scribbled blackboard list with about a dozen excellent choices (our choices are in the pic above)…

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Top Left: Summer Veggie Spread; Awesome Apple Thingy Dessert; Seared Steak Loin & Ash Dust; Lamb Chops & New Potatoes

Then it was time for lunch…yes, some lunch folks. The 2 pintxo stops had put a minor dent in our hunger pangs, so Idoia led us out of the Old Town, past Gipuzkoa Square, to Restaurante Zazpi. This was a new discovery for the Hounds as we’d never crossed its path in all our San Sebastián food wanderings. They had a Plato del Día (main plate, dessert, drink) for a mere €7 & we choose a stunning pulpo salad to share as a starter – perfectly cooked pulpo arrayed on 2 cones of yummy potato mash with a fresh green salad in between. Our mains were: me, lamb chops with roasted new potatoes; Hound #2 went the veggie route (beautifully displayed); and Idoia got some seared steak loin with an amazing crumbled ash dust…Dessert was a quickly devoured apple pudding crumble thing – all 3 spoons were in active, furious use.

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Up To The Bells!

Now we were stuffed, so we jumped on the bus to return us to Hondarribia to await the arrival of 6:45PM and the surprise! Spot on time, Idoia led us up to Arma Plaza where a group of her mates were waiting. We all proceeded to the old church where Ramón, armed with a key that could kill someone, opened up the doors.

We then started our climb – up & up & up to the top of the main bell tower. Wow! Once on top, we had a 360 degree panoramic view of our adopted hometown. And then they started to ring the bells as it just happened to be the Festival of San Juan (Saint John), a festival when it is customary to set bonfires alight & cast things or lists of bad people you want removed from your life into the flames.

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On Top Of Da World in Hondarribia!

 

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Top Left: View from the Bell Tower Deck; The Parador; Hound #2 By Da Bell; Calle Mayor Casco Antiguo & San Juan Fires…

Muchas gracias Idoia for once again showing us a very special day – to have a inside glimpse of real, local Pais Vasco.

For your listening pleasure…the bells of Hondarribia

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Mariño

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Bar Mariño

The Food Hounds got an invitation we could not refuse from our mate Idoia to join her on a Sunday luncheon excursion to Bar Mariño in Irun. Bar Mariño has made a name for itself (and deservedly so) for having a way with pulpo (octopus). There was no way this was not going to be fun…

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Octopi in the House

Post a short hop on the E22 bus, we toddled our way to Bar Mariño & it was hopping. Sunday is a BIG family day in Spain and it was quite clear that many of the Irunian/Hondarribian families had descended on Bar Mariño…fortunately our mate Idoia had made a reservation and seemed to be known by just about every one at the bar & all those who worked there. She’s as local as local gets…

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Pulpo! Pulpo! Pulpo!

We did not waste any time & put ourselves in the most capable hands of Idoia & she ordered away for the table. Two steaming hot plates of just cooked pulpo quickly arrived at the table along with a fat carafe of local white vino that Idoia said was perfecto with pulpo…no arguments there. So we tucked in, and tucked in again & again & wiped up the savoury juices with crispy, crusty bread…Dios mio.

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Mushrooms, Lamb and Veal Courses….

Then to balance it all out we went a wee bit veggie with some wonderful sautéed mushrooms followed by super tender, slow cooked veal & lamb…dropping off the bone it was, just dropping off the bone. And the bread came to the rescue once again as some much needed juice mops. I could almost say no plate cleaning was required by the kitchen staff…

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Outside & In…

So if you ever find yourself in Hondarribia or Irun and you fancy some serious taberna food with a speciality of pulpo, turn on your GPS tools (it is not easy to find) & locate Mariño. You will NOT be disappointed….we are most def going back!