A native of Alabama, USA, Marti has experience in almost every aspect of the food world, from production to packaging design to marketing. Her career began in print journalism but veered into professional kitchens, seeing her work under one of America’s most respected chefs, Frank Stitt. After falling in love with the Basque Country in 2005, Marti moved to San Sebastián for good five years later. Having worked as a baker at one of the city’s best bakeries she now works for San Sebastián Food as Brand Manager & Creative Designer.
Intimately familiar with the producers, chefs and restaurants of the Basque Country and other corners of Spain, her love for food and drink is only rivaled by her obsession with tennis, running, and surfing (poorly). She is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines, with recipes appearing in the New York Times. Her blog, Blank Palate, has evolved over the years. What started out as a place to collate all her perfected recipes in one place now covers her (generally food- and drink-based) obsession with the Basque Country and beyond.
My three favourite restaurants in San Sebastián are…
Ridiculously difficult to narrow down! There are so many specialties in so many bars and restaurants, so it really depends on what you are in the mood for. I am going to avoid listing the best three pintxos or giving away too many secrets in favour of suggesting the places I find myself most often (proximity to my apartment is a big factor here). Shaka & Shake is a tiki cocktail bar with delicious Hawaiian-style pintxos as well; La Cristina is a family-run Italian with a great ambience and the best gnocchi in town; and Narru promises amazing views of La Concha from the upstairs bar, and solid food (you can craft a real brunch from the menu if you strategise).
I love eating out at…
Rekondo because I know the food will be great and totally what is at the market that day, and I know it will be accompanied with a stellar wine. I can get a ’64 for as little as €50 or splurge and spend a few hundred on an incredible wine that’s only a few years old.
A place I love that not many people know about is…
Kata4. It’s not in the city centre, so it doesn’t get quite lots of press but it serves quality food, great pintxos and has an ambitious young chef. I love it for breakfast – there’s not a huge selection but it’s very curated: palmieres and other pastries, two tortillas, and toasts of jamón. Plus a great vibe.
When I’m not blogging I’m…
Throwing vermouth parties with the International Society for the Preservation and Enjoyment of Vermut or appearing as a judge on a national Spanish cooking show.
In my fridge there’s always…
Butter, sriracha, something pickled, eggs and at least two types of cheese.
My most-used cookbook is…
I hardly ever use cookbooks. For savoury dishes I tend to rely on chefs and cookbooks for inspiration only. Baking, however, is a different story – I love Tartine Nº3 by Chad Robertson for its exploration of whole grain versions of my favorite pastries and cookies.
A trend I see sticking around is…
Experiences. Eating now is all about having an experience, in the way it used to be all about white tablecloths, service and molecular tricks.
I know I shouldn’t admit it but my guilty pleasure food is…
Queso! Okay, yes, cheese, but what I mean is that white processed gooey cheese dip you find at the worst (by worst, of course I mean best) Mexican restaurants. I’ve even figured out how to jerry-rig it from here in Spain.
If you gave me a tenner I‘d spend it on…
A couple of gateau Basque molds. They’re a very specific shape and, if you don’t have them, it’s just not the same.
First published October 2015; images by Marti Buckley Kilpatrick
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