San Sebastian (known as Donostia in the Basque language) is located in northern Spain, on the Atlantic Ocean Bay of Biscay. Because it is only a few hours away, sometimes I’ll visit for a weekend. It has one of the highest concentration of Michelin starred restaurants on the planet, but also the local street food—elaborate and large tapas known as pinxtos—are inexpensive and delicious. I decided to try eating at a Michelin star restaurant as an end of the year treat.

1. CHEF.

Chef Paulo Airudo from Argentina manages both his Amelia restaurant (named after his daughter) in San Sebastian, as well as a restaurant in Hong Kong. He gained his second Michelin star days before I visited. Inside, I sat at a bar before an open kitchen where a staff of 18 worked in graceful coordination. Chef Airudo incorporates Argentinian, Italian and Japanese as well as local Basque influences into his dishes. They are textured, with intense and unique flavors.

Chef Paulo Airaudo
Seated at the bar before the kitchen of Restaurant Amelia, in San Sebastian (Donostia), northern Spain
Well coordinated kitchen crew
Chef Paulo (left) eyes his team


Amuse-Bouches –

Four quick starters of lobster salpicon, tuna belly, venison and oyster.

First Dish & Wine

Hamachi fish, fennel, turnip and horseradish.

Paired with a 2020 wabi-sabi Riesling wine from Austria. A crisp and delicate rodeo of flavors that includes lemongrass, lime, and full ripe oranges.

[Paulo’s Playlist Music: Marvin Gaye – I Heard It Through The Grapevine]

Second Dish & Wine

Baby eels, wild brocolli and Iberian pork. Quite the culinary orchestra.

Paired with an orange wine from Veneto, Italy: a 2019 Lazaro from Masiero winery. Flavors of orange pekoe tea.

[Paulo’s Playlist Music: Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse of The Heart]

Third Dish & Wine

Lobster and pumpkin. Intensely delicious.

Paired with a Catena Alta Chardonnay from Argentina. A textured wine with flavors that include buttered toast and a mouth feel as smooth as olive oil.

[Paulo’s Playlist Music: The Beatles – Yer Blues]

Fourth Dish & Wine

Monkfish bagna cauda (with garlic and anchovies) with white truffle shavings.

Paired with a Peter and Paul red blend from Hoch wines in northern Austria. A rich but light fruit blast.

[Paulo’s Playlist Music: The Blues Brothers – Soul Man]

Fifth Dish & Wine:

Roasted pigeon, with spinach and beetroot.

Paired with a 2016 Nus del Terrier, a blend of Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Catalonia region of Spain. Rich, deep, luscious flavors or brownies and black cherries.

[Paulo’s Playlist Music: Black Sabbath – Paranoid]

Sixth Dish & Wine:

Calamari soup with Italian style ramen noodles.

Paired with a local beer from 50 kilometers away—Mamma Mia Sour—which includes stunning flavors of lemongrass and soy.

[Paulo’s Playlist Music: Supertramp – Breakfast in America]

Seventh Dish & Wine

Banana rum ice cream and caviar.

Paired with a Ca’d’Gal Lumine Moscato d’Asti [DOCG], a light sweet white wine from Piemonte, Italy.

[Paulo’s Playlist Music: Rolling Stones – Under My Thumb]

Eighth Dish(es) & Wine

Apple caramel, and cheese topped with fruits and balsamic.

Paired with a 2014 late harvest sweet Txakoli wine from Kaldatz Fiñ. Made in the Basque country of northern Spain near San Sebastian from Hondarrabi Zuri grapes.

[Paulo’s Playlist Music: David Bowie – Heroes]


This was an amazing meal. Also, the kitchen staff were all calm, polite, attentive and coordinated.

Waterfront at San Sebastian – on the Bay of Biscay
Old town, San Sebastian (Donostia)
Dusk on La Concha Bay, San Sebastian, Spain

Getting out to the shoreline was rejuvenating.

Check out my new Instagram Site! VinoVoices

Thanks for tuning in again! And best to you all during the holiday season, and into 2022!

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