Spain Day 7 - La Sociedad
Trip Start Jun 25, 2008
77Trip End Sep 01, 2008
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Jaione and Inigo prepared a simple breakfast of tea, toast, and cereal for us. Then, we all got ready for the day and headed out for a walk. First stop, the grocery store and local market. Second stop, "la sociedad". I''ve determined to not take the camera today! Si se puede!
We strolled down a typical San Sebastian street near town center, ten minutes from our house. A small gated door ... its a private entry to an exclusive dining club. What a fabulous invention this is! Inigo is an engineer, and as such, he is a member of an organization of engineers. He pays dues each quarter to be a part of the organization and there are several benefits. One of which is this ... la sociedad. We walk in and are greeted by a grand display of a classic engineer's uniform from two hundred years ago. All blue, a beautiful hat, and a sword at the ready. ... Beyond the display we walk down some stairs in to a large room with seven tables. Four other groups have arrived before us and are well on their way to preparing their lunch. To the right of the table, a large professional quality kitchen. Stainless steel everything, also.... plenty of plates, utensils, mixing bowls, pots, pans. Exotic, rich smells stream through the air. One group's chef stirs a pan rapidly, monitoring it regularly. I watch his project evolve from oil and garlic to a pan full of paella. Wow. Another group has various types of sliced pork ... cheese ... bread. Another group is half way through eating their salad. I'm drooling.
Jaione (native San Sebastian ... Basque) and Inigo (from Southern Spain) have taken all of the work out of the experience for us. By email before our arrival, Jaione had asked me what we would like to do. I told them that I LOVE good food, and that we are all adventurous. With that in mind, she prepared a menu and with two quick stops at the markets on the way to the sociedad, we have ingredients for our meal:
First, .... Revuelto de Setas. (Basque food, Spanish language ... Eggs, onion, wild mushroom, cayenne, oil, salt). Served with Chorizo Txistorra (Basque food and language ... pigs in a blanket, basque style. A very mild Chorizo baked in to a pastry shell.)
Second, ... Gaspacho (de Southern Spain ... tomato, onion, cucumber, pepper, garlic, oil, vinegar, salt, water ... blended, served cold).
Third, ... Ensalada Mixta (our version was done Basque style ... lettuce, green olives, green olives filled with anchovies, white asparagus, cream cheese, tuna, corn, oil, salt, vinegar, and on top Gula - a favorite fish of the Basque people, imagine a tiny fish one eighth inch in diameter and one inch long, and a whole ton of them sauteed up nice and hot and then placed on top of the cold salad, ... it looked like ... well, the first thing that comes to mind is Medusa's head full of snakes.) Freshly baked bread on the side.
Fourth, ... Cafe y helado con chocolate. Patxaran, a special Basque alcoholic drink, 25% alcohol, but with a bit of ice goes down smooth. A new favorite drink for sure.
Some crazy food. Crazy good. Crazy fun to be in a private kitchen and dining hall with five other groups ... cooking, talking, eating. Everything but the one thing all chefs hate ... : CLEANING! The way it works is that part your quarterly dues pay for your membership of la sociedad. You bring whatever you want to cook. You do the cooking. Each visit, you must pay 3 euros per person in your party for the cleaning service that is provided after you leave. All your cooking and eating dishes are cleaned, as is the kitchen and dining hall. If you choose to drink any of the wine, alcohol, soft drinks, or cafe that are provided ... you pay on the honor system. Que ricisimo! Great fun. Such a memorable experience to hang out cooking gourmet food with friends and strangers, in a high end kitchen, without the concern of space, or privacy, or cost, or time, or even cleaning up afterwords. This is the life. At the end our lunch, I dream out loud of some day opening una sociedad en Estados Unidos. Someday perhaps.
Its five o'clock by the time we finish up and head towards home. Ella is exhausted and still grouchy so we put her down for what turns out to be a two hour nap. We play charades some other games ... Samuel is delighted when Inigo unveils an old Super Nintendo. I connect online to blog and email. Wonderful relaxation. Absolutely perfect hosts. I'm just overwhelmed at the selfless kindness that has been shown to us by Inigo and Jaione.
Nine o'clock rolls around and my stomach is growling. Down to another local bar for some more Pinchos. This place isn't quite as nice as the first one we visited last night, but the price is less ... and the food still fabulous. The highlight is a large potato omelette / quiche sort of thing sandwiched between two slices of bread. Simple yet delightfully good. Tonight I also have the chance to sample Txakoli, another Basque special alcoholic drink. A fair amount stronger than wine, but with very minimum burn factor, ... I'm found another drink I can enjoy. Well, at least ... as often as I'll be able to find it back home! : D
Back home for some relaxing and talking before we all hit the sack. 1:30am now, and I'm headed to bed. Tomorrow, another gastronomic delight planned: a four course meal at a traditional cider house in the hills. And if I have my way, in the evening we will find our way back to the town center for more Pinchos. I love me some good Pinchos!