Emmilou Tapas Bar World Dinners: San Sebastian

“Imagine old, dingy laneways bursting with hole-in-the-wall pinxto bars, a hill adjacent to Parte Vieja that you can climb. And the beach, how close it is next to the amazing old town!”

Chris Cranswick-Smith recounts his first impressions on arriving at San Sebastian. And on a balmy Sydney night, you can easily close your eyes and imagine you are there.

Emmilou Tapas Bar World Dinners: San Sebastian
Selection of hand stuffed olives

During Crave Sydney, Emmilou Tapas Bar is taking diners on a culinary journey. A series of five special dinners recreate Chris’ trip around Spain, in the order that he had experienced when he first arrived in the country at age 19. The experiences, aromas and flavours that have helped shape the young chef’s style of cuisine will be presented in dishes that reflect each region and its culinary heritage.

Tonight, the journey begins in the food-centric town of San Sebastian, where the menu plays on the bar-hopping culture with dishes from tapas and pinxto bars as well famous Michelin-starred restaurants.

Emmilou Tapas Bar World Dinners: San Sebastian
Camino del Pelegrino Albariño

A selection of hand-stuffed olives to start while sipping on Camino del Pelegrino 2009 Albariño is a reminder of hot Iberian nights, sunshine and the proximity to the sea. The black olives contain blue eye trevalla while the green olives are filled with Spanish white anchovies and red pepper which gives the tasty morsel a gentle heat.

Emmilou Tapas Bar World Dinners: San Sebastian

Next are Gambas, skewered prawns that have been painted in fennel aioli then rolled in salted ham and potato crumb. It is simply a delicious dish with a great combination of textures and flavours from the crumbs which you are tempted to pick off the plate. And you do.

Emmilou Tapas Bar World Dinners: San Sebastian

Alcachofa has crispy artichokes in milk curd with broad beans and manchego cheese. This dish has our table of four divided on whether it is toned down in flavour after the last course or is just right. Either way, the crunchy artichokes topped with cheese are delicious.

Emmilou Tapas Bar World Dinners: San Sebastian

The next dish, Cordoniz, withseared quail breast with chestnuts, crispy wild rice, mushroom mousseline and a little chicken parfait is voted as the favourite of the night. The pieces of quail breast are perfectly cooked and pack a lot of flavour with the earthy mushrooms and chicken parfait. The crispy wild rice adds a fun element to a dish that deserves a permanent place on the menu.

Emmilou Tapas Bar World Dinners: San Sebastian
La Tremenda Monastrel 2008

Emmilou Tapas Bar World Dinners: San Sebastian

Pescado is made up of poached blue eye trevalla with a carrot purée, a confit of carrots and orange gel, and dusted with a black olive salt on top. The fish is flaky, tender and moist, with a combination of flavours that work well with the black olive salt cutting through the sweetness of the carrots.

Emmilou Tapas Bar World Dinners: San Sebastian

A pre-dessert of poached pears with pear foam follows, light as air and multi-textured with a sensual mouthfeel.

Emmilou Tapas Bar World Dinners: San Sebastian
Textures of coffee, chocolate and milk

And to finish, textures of coffee, chocolate and milk combine chocolate with coffee financier, coffee syrup, milk ice cream, milk gel, chocolate mousse and a crunchy chocolate praline with a lingering taste – an Emmilou-style sexy dessert with which to end the San Sebastian leg of the journey.

Emmilou Tapas Bar World Dinners: San Sebastian
Emmilou World Dinners around Spain

The culinary trip continues next week in Galicia with its emphasis on decadent seafood, followed by Seville with its signature paella and orange-based dishes. Granada will heat things up with spices and chilli as it takes on the influence of the Moors before it all comes to an end in Barcelona, with its quirky art culture where Catalan food fits the lifestyle with late night drinking and dining.

Emmilou Tapas Bar World Dinners: San Sebastian
L-R: Alex Glasson, Karl Burton, Evan Burgess, Chris Cranswick-Smith (Exec Chef), Jamie Kha, Ryan Christopherson

The five Crave Sydney World Dinners during October not only recreate a culinary trip, they set a celebratory tone as Emmilou turns five years old this week.

Emmilou Tapas Bar World Dinners: San Sebastian

And on this milestone, it was time for Gourmantic to leave a mark on the wall.

Happy 5th birthday Emmilou. Here’s to many more!

Emmilou Tapas Bar
413 Bourke Street
Surry Hills Sydney NSW 2010


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.