July 11, 2016
Last month Johnny and I went on our honeymoon. We pride ourselves on being non-traditionalists, so we avoided taking the trip for a while. And once everything was planned, we didn’t like to call it our “honeymoon.” But it was our first major international vacation since we went to Vietnam in 2013, so it was a special event. Plus, the merit of calling it your “honeymoon” is that you get crazy free upgrades at fancy hotels. So hell yeah, it was our honeymoon!
We first went to Paris for a few nights (duh), then flew up to Bilbao in Spain. We saw Puppy, the main attraction in Bilbao, then rented a car and high-tailed it out of there and drove through Basque Country. Northern Spain is starkly different from Southern Spain, where I have traveled extensively. It was much more, uh, tame and homogenous. And clearly much more affluent than the South.
San Sebastian is a spectacular seaside town right next to the border of France. It was crawling with tourists from all over Europe, and the States, too. It was a bit windy and dreary in May, but we still had a lovely time.
In San Sebastian they are mostly known for their pinxtos, which are bite-size morsels of anything from cured anchovies, jamon, crab, and cheese, on a piece of bread. They are served at bars for a nominal fee to be enjoyed alongside a glass of Txakolina (their local dry white wine) or cerveza (beer). But truth be told, Johnny and I over-indulged on pinxtos back in Bilbao and we couldn’t even look at them by the time we got to San Sebastian. Plus, we had a bit of food poisoning throughout our trip and our stomachs were pretty exhausted.
On our last night, after indulging in a 24-course lunch at Mugaritz, we went out on the town. Johnny had seen Yelp photos of a steak at a nearby bar that he just had to consume. The bar is called Nestor, in the old quarter of San Sebastian. On the Saturday evening we were there, it was hoppin’:
The bar had a few tables but was mostly standing room-only. We squeezed ourselves in, next to locals, regulars, and tourists alike:
We ordered beers:
Johnny + Beer =
I had proclaimed that I was not one bit hungry, but Johnny did not care and ordered plenty of food, as if I were. We looked at what everyone else was ordering, which seemed to be just three things: green Shishito-like peppers, diced tomatoes, and steak. That seemed to be it. So that’s what we ordered:
Blistered pimento peppers:
Roughly-cut ripe tomatoes with olive oil:
Both of these dishes came with a liberal handful of coarse sea salt.
Then, this gentleman working the bar came up to us with this plate:
How could we say no to that? We didn’t. He had us choose our steak. Johnny chose the one on the left.
Then, we ordered a gin and tonic. G+Ts are another specialty in Basque country, where they serve them in these huge wine goblets:
Check out this case of tomatoes. In Japan, this case would be filled with sashimi. Here, they fill them with ripened tomatoes:
Lots of memorabilia through the ages. Bar Nestor has been here for 30 years! But not one dust particle in sight. Bravo!
Again, loads of sea salt. And the meat – perfectly pink!
Take note of the empty plates. We dusted it all and closed down the bar.
We had a blast at Nestor – excellent food and stellar service. It was truly the best meal we had during our honeymoon.