Friday, October 21, 2016

San Sebastian

August bank holiday weekend. You've got to make the most of it. Sarah and I decided to get some sun and sand so we headed off to San Sebastian.
San Sebastian August 2016
The weather had other plans. Did you know San Sebastian actually has weather very similar to the UK? Well, we didn't. And it can change in a matter of minutes, just as in the UK, which is how we went from sunbathing on the beach to cowering in a doorway for half an hour.

But anyway, that was our last day, back to our first day. We arrived late into Bilbao and spent our first night there before heading to San Sebastian in the morning. By the time we got to our airbnb it was around 1am, but, buoyed by the promise of local festivities, we dragged our travel-weary faces out into the hub-bub of old town.

San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016
San Sebastian August 2016

We did a surprising amount of walking around and realising that huge crowds seems to mean a lot of peeing in the streets...so, a mixed impression of Bilbao sent us to sleep that night. The next morning was gorgeous, and we went a-wandering towards the Guggenheim before taking a bus down to San Sebastian.

San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016
A lovely long walk along the river brought us to there. However, this meant that when we finally reached the Guggenheim, we were actually ready for a bit of a sit-down.

San Sebastian August 2016
And this is where our first foray into pintxos occurred. This cultural delicacy is super popular in San Sebastian. Little mini dishes (which seems to often be something on bread which was super fun for gluten-evasive Sarah), which are delicious and should most definitely be enjoyed with a glass of wine! After this and a trip to see the flower cat (which turned out to be a flower dog), we headed into the Guggenheim.

San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016

Such adults. I have to admit the best thing about this place was the architecture of the building. There's no particularly amazing pieces of art that I would term a 'must-see', but that's just my opinion.

After we were done it was time for more pintxos!

San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016

Is that a croquette on bread? Yes, yes it is. It's also worth mentioning here that we undertook a mission to find a nice white wine in Bilbao/San Sebastian and came up with nothing. One or two weren't bad but generally we were not fans. Anyway, after this little stop, we headed to the bus station to grab a bus down to San Sebastian (couple of hours trip, Sarah slept the whole way). Upon arrival and extreme happiness with our second AirBnb, we chilled on the balcony.

San Sebastian August 2016
It got pretty late before we ventured out for dinner. We went to Ikaitz restaurant. This was THE BEST meal. Not to mention one of the best value for money options. We went for a 'weekend menu' which was a three course meal and a bottle of wine for 35 euros. And the quality of the food was just, phenomenal.

San Sebastian August 2016
The risotto starter was amazing, but very rich. We didn't finish ours since we knew we had two courses to go and we didn't want to fill up early!

San Sebastian August 2016
Duck for mains.
San Sebastian August 2016
And an amazing little cheescake for dessert. Recommended. By the way, if you think there's already been a lot of food pictures...you're going to be really bored with the rest of this. Sleep and breakfast.

San Sebastian August 2016
Sakona Coffee - amazing coffee (apparently, I'm a tea drinker) and the breakfast (when they had the right ingredients) was delicious!

San Sebastian August 2016
Our first whole day in San Sebastian was gorgeous and sunny, so we hit the beach. On our way back to the apartment we picked up a couple of tasty treats!

San Sebastian August 2016

And then we headed out for what was unashamedly, a food and drinks crawl.


San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016

Ahhh, a good night was had! The next day it rained most of the morning, so Sarah and I slept in. Early afternoon, it cleared up enough for us to sit outside and have lunch...you know what this means, MORE pintxos!

San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016

Then we took a crappy tourist train around the town (and Sarah fell asleep) before we headed to the bigger beach for cocktails.

San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016
Later that night, we finally got to La Gintoneria - I had been on and on about wanting to go here since we arrived as someone in my office had told me I had to go, even if I wasn't such a big fan of gin (oh, how things have changed since). So we dragged ourselves after dinner to this little bar.

San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016

San Sebastian August 2016
Ohmygoodness. Just an amazing drink. The bar serves a HUGE variety of gins and you actually go in and pick your fruit/taste. I chose raspberry and Sarah chose ginger. Based on that, the barman whipped up two amazing drinks. They were actually huge so it took a good hour to drink them and then we headed home for our last night in San Sebastian.

San Sebastian August 2016
The next day had iffy weather and a deserted beach. Some sunshine looked promising so we optimistically laid out our towels and lay down in our bikinis.
San Sebastian August 2016
Storm clouds rolled in and brought some heavy rain which meant some doorway cowering. A little disappointed we waited it out and hit somewhere for dinner before heading back to the airport.

San Sebastian August 2016

Well, we had fun. Next time I want a beach holiday though, I'll go elsewhere!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Afternoon Tea at Fortnum and Masons

It was over a year ago that I left my last company, but it was only recently that I utilised their gift of an afternoon tea at Fortnum and Masons. They were such lovely people to work with and their gift (which was combined with my birthday gift) was extremely generous and thoughtful. I love an afternoon tea. LOVE it.

Anyway, I used the opportunity to take my good friend Emma out, since she lives out of London it's so rare I get a good chance to catch up with her and luckily she was very much interested in an afternoon of tea, cake and chat!

Afternoon Tea September 2016

The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon can be located in Piccadilly on the top floor of their shop. It is beautifully elegant with attentive, well-dressed wait staff and some beautiful piano being played in the background. The perfect setting for a good catch up!

Afternoon Tea September 2016

Afternoon Tea September 2016

Your bottom layer is finger sandwiches. Coronation chicken, egg and cress, cucumber and cream cheese and ham and mustard. The quintessential afternoon tea sandwiches. It suffices to say that Emma and I put these away in fairly impressive time.

Afternoon Tea September 2016

Scones...my God, I live for scones. These, I'm sorry to say, were not the best scones I have ever had. They were a little crumbly for my liking and I made an enemy of them when they gave way under my lashings of cream and jam. Delicious none-the-less though, once they surrendered to their unwelcome cream, jam hats.

Afternoon Tea September 2016

The cream itself, I could write a page on, but I'll sum it up as the best clotted cream Emma or I have ever had. We went through two mini tubs.

Afternoon Tea September 2016

Your top layer is cake. We struggled here, at which point I feel it is worth mentioning that your fortnum and mason cake and sandwich stand is replenish-able. Emma and I did not exercise this option as we couldn't even finish one stand. I had the yellow macaroon looking thing on this plate but, I'm a bit particular with cakes so I wasn't overly fussy on anything here.

Afternoon Tea September 2016

The tea itself was very, very nice. And Emma, in her loveliness, got me a tin of the tea I enjoyed throughout our afternoon event. I'm actually nearing halfway through it as I have completely eschewed the PG tips available in my work kitchen in favour of this loose-leaf blend of deliciousness. It's called Queen Anne and it's a ceylon and assam blend, for those who like their tea. It does give a more delicate taste than your average tea bag and I'm usually a girl who likes my tea strong, but the flavour with this tea outweighs any teabag.

Afternoon Tea September 2016
I'd definitely venture back here for a treat...it's worth it for the cream alone!

Afternoon Tea September 2016