galparsoro: san sebastián, gipuzkoa
In San Sebastián, despite the incredible level of gastronomic excellence, there's only one place to buy good bread.
And you're going to have to wait for it. That place is Galparsoro, in the old part, and there's almost always a line out the door. Once you start looking, you see the tale-tell signs all over the city, though...old men with berets, carrying an orange bag; young children straight from the colegio, gnawing off the end of a baguette, poking out of an orange bag...all Galparsoro breads.
Why is it so good, so different?
The owner, Mikel Galparsoro, has an affiinity for (and an incredible base of knowledge about) French bread. Le pain par excellence. In a recent interview, he says: "Technique is fundamental and as a result of it you can have an excellent bread or a bread that doesn't taste like anything. The longer you prolong the fermentation, the better the bread. The key is knowing how to play with and control the fermentation."
As an American, it's easy to be wowed by the habit of daily baguette buying and the freshness of even the most boring loaf. After all, we're used to wonderbread that eats for weeks (until mold begins to appear around the edges). But after several months, when the initial glow has worn off, you start to notice that there is meh fresh bread and there is YEAH fresh bread.
At Garlparsoro, among other local rarities, they stock breads distinguished by their wheat. Breads made with no additives. Breads made with no added yeast. Breads made with all-organic ingredients. Breads in the traditional French style. Breads made on premises.
And I lied: there's not only one place to enjoy this bread. Arzak, Mugaritz, Akelarre, and Martin Berasategui all use Galparsoro bread in their restaurants. And if you happen to be buying other very fine grocery products at Don Serapio, you will be happy to know you need not trek to the Parte Vieja, because Galparsoro stocks their daily bread supply.
But it's worth the walk.