Picture yourself at a crowded tapas bar in San Sebastian or on a restaurant terrace in a picturesque Andalusian plaza. You’re browsing the tapas menu, looking for something comforting, warm, crunchy and creamy to go with the refreshing boquerones (anchovies in vinegar) and salty flakes of Iberico ham already on your list. What you need is an order of croquetas, the Spanish version of French croquettes.
The coldest part of the year is approaching. It’s a perfect time to warm your soul in one of Europe’s best winter foodie destinations. Whether it’s a sip of salep in Istanbul, a steaming bowl of caldo verde in Lisbon, or black beans by the coast in San Sebastián, the discoveries you’ll make in these six European cities will be enough to make you want winter to last forever.
Nestled on the southern coast of Biscay Bay, San Sebastian is without a doubt the culinary capital of Basque Country. Famed for its Michelin star restaurants and pintxos culture, this charming and hip beach city never fails to impress. While tapas are originally from Andalusia, they have truly reached their zenith in San Sebastian.
The cuisine of Basque Country has truly made its mark on the international culinary scene in recent years. It has fused the freshest local produce with age-old traditions. The wine and cider of the region is still somewhat an insider’s secret. Both industries have a long history dating back centuries and have overcome threats which almost wiped them out. But they are now experiecing revival, as sophisticated Basque food lures gourmet travellers to the region. San Sebastian’s tapas bars may be the centre of Basque gastronomy. But no experience is complete without a journey to the rural landscapes, home to the Basque cider house and vineyards.
Drawing on fresh, seasonal produce and fused with age-old traditions, the cuisine of the Basque Country in Spain’s northeastern corner has well and truly made its mark on the international stage. Cities like San Sebastian with their vibrant pintxos culture have reinvented former household recipes. They have spurned a renewed interest in the region’s cooking styles and techniques. The cuisine utilises freshly sourced Basque ingredients from the fertile Ebro Valley on the one side. The ocean’s abundance on the other provides endless inspiration.