Basque Gastronomy Part 2: Kañoyetan

First, a beautiful picture of sunset over La Concha, the circular beach which San Sebastian is most known for. It’s a small bay off of the Bay of Biscay with warm, calm waters. It’s full of little sailboats and every day dozens of people swim the length from side to side. Up above the beach, a sidewalk stretches the whole length of La Concha and then follows the coast out to the rest of San Sebastian on each side, making it a peaceful and beautiful place to walk.

The day after our fabulous meal at Arzak, we spent the following day swimming and strolling along the beach, gathering an appetite for our next culinary stop: a special invitation to dinner at a Gastronomic Society.

Gastronomic Societies are essentially clubs where members are selected, sometimes after 10+ year waits, and each have access to the fully stocked kitchen and pantry in order to host dinners, whether private or for other members of the society. Some of the best and most well known chefs of the area are members. There is no owner, everyone is equal in the club. Except women, who cannot be members and until not too long ago were not allowed to enter as guests, and who now are still not allowed to pass the threshold of the kitchen. Maybe that sounds sexist, but as a female I really felt no need to complain about sipping wine while waiting for the men to feed me.

Kañoyetan, the particular gastronomic society that we were invited to, was founded in 1900 and is one of the first formal societies of this kind. The slogan above the doorway says: “each town its law, each house its custom”. Our chef prepared a feast of only the freshest sea food which the northern region of Spain is known for.

We started the meal with this spectacular buffet of sea food, including jumbo shrimp, crabs, mussels, and langostines. Few things make me happier.

Perfection.

And wine flowing. Riojas, Verdejos and Txakoli, which is a Basque slightly sparkling, dry white wine with a high acidity (somehow I did not get a shot of the bottle).

And, as if that feast was not enough, our chef prepared a second dish of fish seared in olive oil and garlic.

Simple cooking techniques are all you need when the product is so fresh. Such a different experience to the day before, but eating family style with new friends and the privilege of dining in such an exclusive location made it just as memorable.

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