Fat with Michelin-starred restaurants, the enchanting coastal city of San Sebastián is the culinary capital of Basque Country, the bucolic Bay of Biscay-hugging region that encompasses parts of northern Spain and southwest France. Though stunningly hilly and home to pristine beaches, Basque Country is most known for its ancient culture—famously, stubbornly distinct from that of the countries in which it’s found, with its own traditions, maritime roots, flag, and language, Euskera—and its cuisine, which in recent decades has grown increasingly avant-garde with its use of high-tech, experimental techniques, while still reflecting respect for traditional ingredients. The best part? There are many ways to access these foods, from world-class chef-driven restaurants to dirt-cheap napkin-strewn local bars.  

In San Sebastián particularly, one can ricochet from a life-changing, wallet-busting six-course meals involving, say, liquid nitrogen, powdered olive oil, and spinach foam, to the decidedly less lofty but equally lip-smacking ritual of txikiteo, the Basque social art and gastronomic gift from the gods in which one hops around various pintxos bars, sampling a bit here and there. Pintxos are like Basque tapas, delectable little gourmet works of art that prove just how serious the Basques are about food. They’re the subject of this San Sebastián EYW snapshot—at least until we return (and we will) for more thorough coverage.

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