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Just returned from a break in the Basque Country (hence my somewhat limited posting over the past week or so - One thing the Basque Country doesn't appear to have is reliable & fast Internet :-) ) Now I am back I am going to bore you all with a vengeance - with multiple posts about the various aspects of my holiday :-) First Coffee - then Food, then rip roaring amusing and entertaining accounts of various adventures (well maybe): Donostia-San Sebastian: Having arrived mid-ish afternoon we didn't get to "look around" too much on day one (see rip roaring adventures later) - just wander bleary eyed between desperately needed meals and drinks stops. Somewhere during day two we managed to get to a market/supermarket (actually very close to where we ended up sleeping) and there tucked away in a corner was THE FIND OF THE HOLIDAY!!! Tucked away in the corner of the "Mercado San Martin" is "Old Town Coffee" (Old Town Cafes Espaciales). A little amusing as San Martin ISN'T in the Old Town but Hey Ho!:-) This is just a little "stall" in the corner of a general food market - it is run by a couple of guys who love their coffee, like a chat and know what they are doing! Coffee 1 - "Just" A Cortado to test the waters very busy - about a dozen people gathered round the few stools (several having a take-out)..... Despite obvious busyness - Coffee weighed and adjusted before being pulled on a (two group) San Remo.. Each cup I saw made with the same care - Milk individually steamed - smooth as silk with some art popped on top (I got about 5 layers in a rosette).... Really, really nice coffee, smoooooooooooth and sweet.... On display are V60 ceramic cones, Pouring kettles, jugs etc, a row of Aeropress', a couple of syphons various bags of beans. There are at least 3 grinders scattered (A biggish Mazzer a big circular thing with a bucket on top (looks like Ditting on the badge but at back of the stall) plus "something" either hidden in a filing cabinet OR about the size of a filing cabinet (No idea what it was but the lads often went to it to grind into the baskets).... A bit later (when much, much less busy) I went back - they recognised me form earlier and got chatting - I was pondering what to have and they asked what "type" of bean/coffee I liked as they had a (small) selection...they then suggested trying a new bean they had just got in (from a Greek roaster apparently) as a v60. They showed me the bag (plus other options) to "help" - I didn't recognise too much of the wording (Greek/Basque or Spanish not being my strongest) but it was Guatemalan (I think) and had "Orange" and "Caramel" notes (Naranja, caramelo)... In for a penny and all that..... They then went through a very practised rigmarole of making the V60, Grinding, weighing, rinsing the paper, warming the pot, blooming, stirring, pouring, weighing, timing etc....... to present a crystal clear amber nectar in its Hario jug.... It really was stunning... clean as a whistle.... citrusy fruits.... dark caramel/figgy sweetness and aromatic.... for the rest of my time in Donostia I popped in at least a couple of times a day. Morning ritual - order a flat white when passing on the way to pick up croissants and buns... stroll back to savour before returning to the mob/family for breakfast (of the aforementioned croissants etc). Lunch-ish time flat white or cortado or piccolo pre/post buying tomatoes etc then early evening top up... Each shot made with the same care and attention and served with a chat and always after a few sips a check to see that it was OK! Often there were Aussies and Kiwis having a drink - all of them complimenting the coffee and many of them lamenting the fact that they hadn't found the place earlier (as they were just leaving/on the way to the bus station). More generally the coffee (with/after meals and just out and about) in Donostia-San Sebastian was "alright" at most places... generally "stock" beans of brands that I don't know/recognise (although I did avoid a few Illy/Lavazza banners)... Generally (as to be expected) fairly traditional but palatable and made pretty well with care....... Bilbao I didn't have long in Bilbao and didn't (look for or) find any proper coffee places but - every single cup (with meals/out and about) was without exception the most execrable and disgusting sh*te that could be imagined!! Some places had decent quality kit but the coffee (all stock brand stuff) was just knocked out on a conveyor. I tried many variations - cortado, cappo, con leche, bon-bon - but they were all foul!!! To be fair to any baristas in Bilbao 1) I didn't search for "real" coffee 2) It was in the middle of the biggest Basque Festival of the year (where 3/4 of the population decends on Bilbao for a week of traditional contests and regional rivalry plus 23hour partying and jollity)......