New flavors are my favorite discoveries. When at home, I'm drooling over these pictures. When I finally get on the road my mind is on vacation but taste buds are at work. When I get back it's time to start cooking.
As food writer Jonathan Gold "warned" me before we went to San Sebastian, "the pintxos bars in the old town are among the best in Spain." Although you can't feel any sense of competition--the convivial spirit spills over from one bar to the next, and there are certainly enough customers to go around--you can see it and taste it. Every spot crafts its small-plate specialties to perfection, and a few, like Zeruko, above, take their pintxos into otherworldly realms of avant-garde food architecture. For pure satisfaction (amazing warm pintxos cooked to order) and neighborhood ambiance, we kept returning to Astelehena and La Cuchara De San Telmo, both recommended by AFAR contributor Lisa Abend. But nothing beats Zeruko, http://bit.ly/HbvQQ0, for a visual spectacle and experimentation with ingredients and presentation.