What Makes Jain Cooking Unique

San Sebastián: what makes Basque Country cuisine unique

How can it be that 18 Michelin stars shine in the gastronomic sky above San Sebastián and the surrounding area? Why the Basque coastal city, which does not even have 200,000 inhabitants? Why does gastro culture play such a role here and now attracts gourmets from all over the world?

“We Basques have always eaten well and happily,” Spain's best-known cook, Elena Arzak, tries in a first vague explanation. She cooks in the three Michelin-starred restaurant "Arzak". But right now she is looking through the window front of the “Haizea” bar, one of her favorite spots in the old town of San Sebastián, at the street.

For her espresso, now in the late morning, she has taken a small culinary treat from the counter: a Russian salad in a bowl, topped with two olives and a shrimp.

Spain's tapas are called pintxos here

Pintxos are the Basque name for the appetizers otherwise known as tapas, which enjoy legendary status in San Sebastián. The variety of finger food cannot be topped anywhere else in Spain. Depending on the location, pintxos have risen from simple satiety makers to miniatures of the highest culinary art.

A bar, everyone knows, is only as good as its pintxos. Concentrate and selection are record breaking. If you add up the bars and restaurants in the old town, you get “200 to 250”, calculates Amaiur Martínez, who has just tastefully arranged the counter displays in his “Ganbara” bar.