Monday, 23 May 2011

Northern Spain: New Discoveries Part 2

When we first planned this trip we thought we would take 5 days to do a mini-tour in Northern Spain. However, we changed our minds and only did a one day/one night stint in Pamplona.

I've always wanted to explore Pamplona. I wanted to see the setting for The Sun Also Rises and, while I don't really fancy the San Fermin festival I did want to wander the narrow streets and just imagine the thick crowds of people outrunning the bulls.

We went on a cool rainy day, leaving from San Sebastian. We took the Alsa bus which leaves from the bus station near the Euskotren station. The journey takes just over an hour and return tickets are only 14,14€.

I did a bit of preliminary research at the Todos Pintxos site and found Casa Otano. This place also has a restaurant and pintxos bar, and there were a large concentration of bars/restaurants in the area that would provide plenty of opportunity for exploration. The room was basic in all ways and cost 45€ per night.

Since we arrived just after lunch, most of the local bars were empty. Still, we managed to find Bar Baserri. I've been making one of their signature pintxos called 'Pintxo de la Foto' for some time now, having first discovered it in New Tapas by Fiona Dunlop. And i was thrilled to see that it was on display that day. It's quite a mouthful of flavours: marinated anchovy wrapped around smoked salmon, covered with piquillo pepper and doused in a sharp vinaigrette. It tasted just like mine (or is it mine taste just like theirs?)! Kelsie had a lovely smoked bacalao, topped with a tomato vinaigrette and drizzled with black olive oil.

We left Baserri and decided to have a wander around more of the Old Town and surrounding area. We found a lovely park with a sculpture garden.

After a mini-siesta in the room, we headed back out to the Old Town for some more food and drink. There were more than a few bars with gorgeous jamons hanging from the ceilings. This one particularly stood out for me.

We stopped at Bodegon Sarria where we had alachofa rellena de jamon y queso con salsa de piquillos.

Next was Mesón Pirineo where i tried pintxos with jamon fried quals egg piquillo and chistorra.

Our last stop was at La Mandarra de la Ramos where i finally gave in and ordered manitos de cerdo which, it seemed every bar/restaurant had on its menu. It was exactly what i expected, bony bits of porky foot with lots of gelatinous fat and meat. In retrospect it probably wasn't a great idea to try this last, but i'm glad i did and i probably would try it again. La Mandarra is a great bar with some nice decorative features, like the imprint of some San Fermin runners on the floor (see photo above).

Suitably stuffed, we headed back to our room, had a good sleep and headed back to San Sebastian the next morning. I enjoyed the contrast between Pamplona and San Sebastian. They each have their own specialities and fair share of award winning dishes and restaurants. Next time i hope we do the mini-trip we originally planned and discover even more!

Casa Otano
San Nicolas 5 . 31001 Pamplona

Bar Restaurante Baserri
San Nikolas Kalea 32 . 31001 Pamplona

Bodegon Sarria
C. Estafeta 50-52 . 31001 Pamplona

Meson Pirineo
c/ Estafeta, 41 . 31001 Pamplona

La Mandarra de la Ramos
San Nicolás 9 bajo . 31001 Pamplona

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