One of the best things about my recent trip was having my best friend join me. It was her first time being in France and it was fun to take her to some of my favorite spots, many of which I hadn’t been back to myself in years. One of the places I was most excited to visit again was the beautiful little town of Saint Émilion. One of the things I have always wanted to do was have lunch at the Hostellerie de Plaisance. The hotel is ideally situated in the middle of town and the outdoor dining terrace offers a great vantage point to see the streets below as well as the surrounding area.
Our very decadent lunch included many of our favorite things: escargot, chilled oysters, Charente melon & prosciutto, foie gras and champagne.
The view from the hotel terrace looking down at the center of town.
The new discovery on this trip was Île de Ré, a gorgeous island where family friends were renting a house for the week. We drove up and spent the day with them and explored the island a bit. These handsome, bloomer wearing donkeys are now a tourist attraction for kids (or best friends) to ride but they once played a role in the farming of the island. They say the bloomers help keep the flies and mosquitos at bay.
We stumbled on the most gorgeous food market while antique hunting in Bordeaux. Bought more than we could carry of all sorts of veggies, fresh fruits, handmade cheeses, cakes, and breads. We ate like kings for days.
The vast assortment of cheeses was overwhelming, so we bought one of everything to try!
The last few days of our vacation we packed up and bid France farewell and headed south to Spain. The only two things we had on our list was to visit the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and to eat dinner at a place a good friend had said was not to miss. We ended up in San Sebastián and immediately fell madly in love with the city. This picture was taken on the way to dinner; the sun was setting when a fast moving storm rolled in creating one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen.
Our last day was spent in a little fishing town called Getaria, which is about 20 minutes from San Sebastián and happens to be the birthplace of Cristóbal Balenciaga. We loved it so much we’re plotting our next visit already.
Every restaurant in town (there were only a handful) had these amazing outdoor grills.
And finally, if your vacation is about to be over and you have one last meal to eat, this is THE place: Elkano. The only recommendation my friend (who has lived in Spain and now owns a delicious tapas restaurant in NYC) made was to eat here. It’s no exaggeration to say that it was one of the best meals of my life. The staff made you feel like you were dining in their home; the seafood was caught fresh that day and prepared so exquisitely that it made you want to cry at how delicious it tasted. C’est tout!