San Sebastian spends time in Hell’s Kitchen


Destination: Hell’s Kitchen, NYC

Mode of Transport: Pintxos/Tapas

Jacob K. Javits served as a United States Senator from the mid 50’s to the early 80’s. Most New Yorkers don’t know much about the politician or claim to know anything at all about the guy.

One thing we all know is that there is this massive structure standing six city blocks wide and one city avenue deep, on the west side of Midtown Manhattan named after him. We have embraced this structure as our Civic Center. Just about every single convention or trade show is held in this forum.

At The New York Times Travel Show 2015

This place isn’t foreign to either Brenda or me. We both spent many hours under this roof, as ambassador of fashion brands, either selling or buying goods. This week, it held the Annual New York Times Travel Show. It was the first time Brenda and I entered the hall under a new capacity as travel and food industry people.

At the Annual New York Times Travel Show

Culinary Travel Talk at the NYT Travel Show 2015

At the Culinary Travel Talk

Brenda and I went to every seminar and panel discussion we can muster to fit into the day. We passed through every booth exchanging cards and ideas. We made connections and bumped into fellow bloggers.

Keynote Panel at the NYT Travel Show 2015

Keynote Panel: NYT Travel Show – Peter Greenberg, Arabella Bowen, Wendy Perrin, David Pavelko, Yana Gutierrez and James Shillinglaw

We were determined to make a name for ourselves. Nothing changed much from our fashion days; it was basically the same schtick, selling a piece of ourselves. Except this time we were serving as ambassadors to our own brand.

Met @culturalxplorer at the Asia Pavillion

Met Chanel from @culturalxplorer at the Asia Pavillion

It was a three day convention, and we brought Bailey along for two of those days. She had a blast collecting all sorts of pamphlets and give-aways; but most importantly, it set the tone for us as truly being a family business.

New York’s Hell’s Kitchen


One of the rituals we had during the event was to have an after work business dinner, just the three of us. Fortunately, we were just a few blocks from the Gotham West Market. This structure, built in the heart of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, holds under its’ roof some of the best eateries in New York, with the setting being communal.

Board at the Gotham West Market

It’s not unlike Eataly (New York and anywhere in Italy), or La Boqueria in Barcelona, or the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid. It’s an eater’s paradise. One second you can transport yourself to the American South with the taste of Fried Chicken at Genuine Roadside operated by my friends at the AvroKo design group; or in Tokyo having Ramen, in this case from Ivan Slurp Shop. But for me, the piece de resistance are the pintxos that transported me to the Basque country, from El Colmado.

Genuine at Gotham West Market

Hell’s Kitchen didn’t get it’s name because there are great restaurants; this came much later. In Hell’s Kitchen’s heyday, if you will, the only reason one would be in these neck of the woods were either you needed to pay off your Irish bookie for the bad bets you made, or try to score some cocaine or meet up with your favorite prostitute.

El Colmado NYC at Gotham West Market

All this with the Port Authority as it’s backdrop. Very few of New Yorkers miss those days. Today, there are eateries everywhere and apartment buildings that are very fashionable and not easy to afford.

Basque Tourism at NYT Travel Show

The City of Bilbao in the Basque Region of Spain, like the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, has also had it’s own torrid past. It has an industrial setting and a history of civil unrest. Which made the place unfavorable to many. This is considered long past now, with the city getting more and more popular every year.

At San Sebastian in the Basque Region in 2003


Back in ‘03, Brenda and I, along with a couple of friends stopped over at Bilbao, on our way to San Sebastian, to visit, at the time fairly new, Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry. It was an architectural triumph; just amazing. As we left the museum, it was around the time of day that the people of Bilbao enjoyed doing their tapas run or in Basque, pintxos.

This would be the first time we would have it in this region. We have had great tapas in Madrid and Barcelona in the past, but it paled in comparison to the Basque equivalent. Their offerings were a bit more sophisticated and recondite.

Lady Brett Ashley in the Sun Also Rises


We continued onto San Sebastian, and booked ourselves into the Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra, right on the famous La Concha Beach. We were perfectly situated for a lost fortnight of eating and drinking in the sun. Which we did plenty of. Lady Brett Ashley and the rest of the gang in Hemingway’s, The Sun Also Rises (who also spent time in San Sebastian) would have had nothing on us.

Chanquetes at El Colmado NYC

Chanquetes at El Colmado NYC

Some of the more memorable dishes we had in the region were chanquetes, which were crispy little whiting served with alioli (whipped garlic); padron peppers and the arroz negro (rice with cuttlefish ink). There were many others, but these three always made our standard order.

Padrons at El Colmado NYC

Here we were years later, reminiscent of San Sebastian, the three of us at the counter at El Colmado enjoying those same three dishes. The crispy little fried whiting was done perfectly. Imagine string french fries that had a fishy kick. I guess it’s like having both fish and chips in micro portions.

The Padron Peppers


The padron peppers are flash fried just as they were in Spain, but these read a bit spicier than I recall them to be, but I didn’t complain as it went perfectly with my wine. Lastly, when the arroz negro arrived at the counter, all three of us gasped for just a second, knowing already how good it was going to taste just from the aroma wafting through the air and how authentic it looked.

San Sebastian spends time in Hell's Kitchen

This one came with an added surprise – a dollop of sea urchin on top (Brenda’s all time favorite delicacy). It not only brought Brenda and I back to San Sebastian, but made us appreciate the here and now with our daughter; being able to have these delights that were once hard to find, in a one time unsavory neighborhood.

The Basque Region is considered the capital of gastronomy 


Things are peaceful now in the Basque Region and considered the capital of gastronomy, with more Michelin star restaurants than any region in the world; and Hell’s Kitchen is also on the food lover’s map, thanks to places like the Gotham West Market.

Jacob Javits Center

By the way, Senator Jacob Javits, was known for being a Liberal Republican, and I believe that open minds like his, diverse in his thinking, can create beautiful environments. It’s nice to know that towns and neighborhoods all over the world are getting safer for our children to enjoy. Because we all know that there are few things more wonderful than the business of family.

Click here for Brenda’s quick guide to San Sebastian in the Basque Country.

Have you been in Hell’s Kitchen lately? Did you visit the Gotham West Market while you where there? Tell us!

Local NYC Travel Tip: During the months prior to leaving it all behind to travel full-time, we stayed with Brenda’s mother for 6 months in Fort Lee, NJ however, there were a few nights that we stayed over at her sister’s house in Manhattan but also there were nights we treated ourselves to staying at a hotel or 2. We liked staying in the 2 chain hotels in midtown, Hilton and The Grand Hyatt because they always had good value sales. We like The Grand Hyatt more but the Hilton was closer to the West Side.

0 Replies to “San Sebastian spends time in Hell’s Kitchen”

  1. It was wonderful meeting you all at the NYT Travel Show this year! Hope to see you again soon 😀

    1. It was a pleasure having met you as well. Stay in touch. Best, Andrew

  2. I’m curious about your thoughts about the conference. Was it worth going to for travel bloggers? We thought about attending when we received an invite to an after party for the event, but couldn’t swing the trip.

    1. It was our first time there. I think it depends on where you’re coming from. If you’re in NYC (which is where we live) then it’s worthwhile. The trade day was particularly good because of some seminars we attended about the future of travel.

  3. Will have to make it to this conference next year! Traveling the world in one single space! I would have gone just for the food! Did you find the seminars helpful?

    1. Andrea: The seminars were definitely helpful. I felt that the ones during the “Trade Day” were most fruitful as they were plentiful and less broad. It could be fun if you are going to be in town already, but I’m not sure it’s worth traveling for. Best, Andrew

  4. That food looks amazing! I always wonder about a lot of travel conferences and if they’re helpful for bloggers. I’m headed to TBEX Asia this year and I’m so excited!

    1. Richelle: We will be at TBEX in Thailand as well. Maybe we can meet up and have a proper greet. As for this travel show, definitely not worth going our of your way for; however, with that said, we did find the seminars quite good and it’s always good to polish up on the meet and greets. Best, Andrew

  5. Yum that meal looks so good! We don’t have much in the way of travel shows locally and I’d been wondering about whether it was worthwhile going further afield to attend one.

    1. Toni: We had fun as a family attending the show, going to the seminars and meeting people; but certainly not worth going out of your way for. However, if you need an excuse to make a trip, why not. Best, Andrew

  6. That food looks fantastic!! Sounds like a great experience and a wonderful way to connect food-lovers, business-owners, etc. Thanks for sharing your travels once again!

    1. Stacey: Thank you for reading once again. We enjoy entwining business with family pleasure for sure. Events such as these give us a good excuse. All the best and connect again soon. – Andrew

  7. Glad you enjoyed yourself at the travel show!

    Whenever I think of “Hell’s Kitchen”, I think of the TV show. But it sounds like a cool place!

    1. Sky: Hell’s Kitchen is a cool place. To eat at the very least… And yes, you won’t have Gordon Ramsey yelling in the background. Best, Andrew

  8. Mmm those chanquetes look incredible! Looks like a fantastic and memorable experience 😉

    1. Alli: Spain is imbedded in our DNA as a family, and it doesn’t take much to bring us back to that wonderful country; but it helps when it’s authentic like the food we had mentioned on this post. Thanks for the read, hope to hear from you again next time. Best, Andrew

  9. I’ve never been to a travel show or conference. I’d love to get the chance to go!

    1. Bailey: It’s always good to go to these conferences to hear about the state of travel in the world. With that said, this one isn’t worth traveling for, unless you need an excuse to come to New York. Best, Andrew

  10. I would love to go to the NY travel conference!! It looks so informative and like such a blast! Thanks for sharing your experience here 🙂

    1. Francesca: The travel Show is fruitful as far as the seminars go, and yes a good time can be had by all. If you are in the area around the time of year they hold this, it is worth a look; but don’t go our of your way for it. -Andrew

  11. Oh man, I’m taking a Tapas class this week and this post has just got me even more excited for it than I was before!

    Sara | This Girl Loves

    1. Sara: That’s cool. Let me know what you end up preparing from what you learn from class. Best, Andrew

  12. Looks fun. I bet you met really interesting people there!

    1. Isabella: It was fun doing our first conference as a family. Thanks for reading and hope you join us again soon. Best, Andrew

  13. I’ve yet to attend a travel conference like this (would love to sometime!), but it looks like lots of fun learning about different companies and networking! Hope it was really successful for you!

  14. That was a great list of good looking dishes and interesting restaurants. Gotham West Market must be heaven for food lovers. Now I’ve got a new addition to my itinerary when I visit New York again.

    1. Vanessa: You will be very happy to have found Gotham West Market upon your next visit to NYC. Great food and energy. Thanks for reading along and hope you join us agin soon. Best, Andrew

  15. […] offering is their homage to American standards you find along the road while going cross country. El Colmado, is an authentic pintxos experience, the best we’ve found to date outside of Spain itself. Oh and yes, I suggest sharing and visiting […]

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