Eating Well in Pamplona During the Running of the Bulls

One of the most common question that people from US ask me when I meet them is, “What do you miss most from Spain?”

My answer, after family and friends, is easy, THE SPANISH FOOD!

Spaniards love good food. We expect to have a variety of fresh and quality food. Since very young age we see how important food is in our lives.

In Spain we like long meals followed by a long conversation in good company. The perfect meal includes many types of food and, of course, the finishing touch at the end, good wine.

Where do I begin with everything Pamplona has to offer? With the world class food, the year-round cultural events, for example, seafood art, during the week of Pintxos or week of the cazuelica and wine.

What happens during San Fermín Festival? Is the food at the same quality as it is during the rest of the year? Can you easily find a table? How much will it cost?

For this post, I talked to Héctor Munéarriz, manager of Gure Etxea (Plaza del Castillo, 8, local, Pamplona), tell us little more about how his bar works during the fiesta, and I would like that he give us some tips on how to enjoy our meal like a local, during our stay in the Running of the bulls.

1. Héctor, could tell us about what the kitchen is like of Gure Etxea during the San Fermin Festival?
As you can imagine, it’s sheer madness. The workload is multiplied by four and we try as hard as we can to make sure the service is perfect. During the San Fermin Festival we keep the kitchen open 24 hours since the Sanfermines require it.

2. With all of this work, what is a day like of San Fermin Festival for you?
A day during the San Fermin Festival for a manager of a bar like Gure Etxea vis generally twelve hours of continuous work. However, in my case sometimes during the weekend I work for 18 hours because of my different roles. It may seem excessive, but bear in mind that it is only for nine days out of the year.

3. To give us an idea of ​the amount of people that visit Pamplona during the festival, how much heavier is the workload during the festival compared to the rest of the year?
Some estimate that Pamplona has more than a million visitors over the nine days. Pamplona is a city of nearly three hundred thousand inhabitants

4. Pamplona has many restaurants which serve great food, but it is difficult to find a good place to dine during the San Fermin Festival?
The variety of restaurants in Pamplona is huge, not surprisingly so because the second largest attraction of Pamplona is its cuisine. There are a variety of types of food to suit all budgets. You just have to know where to look.

5. How much does it cost to eat well during the San Fermin Festival?
The price can range from 10 to 100 euros.

6. Is the meal schedule very different in Pamplona, Spain to the rest of Europe or US? At what times can find places to eat?
Fortunately for the visitor, in Pamplona during San Fermin Festival, you can eat from a typical lunch with eggs, ham, etc at eight in the morning as well as a combination plate at four in the morning, depending on location. I advise those who attend the San Fermin Festival to always eat at restaurants or bars and not buy food from stands on the streets, there have been occasional health issues.

7. One of the most popular products are the pintxos (tapas), you can eat tapas at any time of day but what time do you recommend?
The best time to eat pintxos is usually from noon to four and then in the evening from 7PM to 11PM.

8. What’s your favorite dish or product from Navarre?
Choosing one is impossible!. The vegetables (artichokes, asparagus, piquillo peppers,) cheese (Idiazábal, Roncari,) meats (Chsitorra, chorizo,) I do especially like the eggs with lean ham and tomato (magras con jamón y tomate.)

9. Are there any stories from your time at the bar during the running of the bulls you would like to share with us?
As our bar is located in the heart of the party we have had many famous visitors and varied international restorers as Arzak, Subijana and Arguiñano, athletes like Dennis Rodman, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Miguel Indurain, as well as many other artists, bullfighters, singers, and more. Each year we could write a book with anecdotes about what occurs at Gure Etxea during the San Fermin Festival.

10. What do you like most about the San Fermin Festival and what do you like the least?
As a good Pamplones, I am a lover of the San Fermin Festival. I grew up in the old part of Pamplona. From a young age I have been able to enjoy the festival thoroughly. Moreover I have run with the bulls each year starting from twenty-five years ago. When the beginning of the festival begins to approach I’m as excited as a child with the arrival of Christmas. Although my business does not let me enjoy one hundred percent of the festival, I do make squeeze in some freetime.

Pamplona has so much more to offer than just the running of the bulls. The food, wine, culture, and genuine Pamplones, like Héctor Munéarriz, who want to share their city will guarantee that your time at the San Fermin Festival unforgettable.

Thank you to Héctor for his thoughtful insights. We hope Gure Etxea has a great year during the San Fermin 2013. If you do make it to San Fermin 2013 be sure to eat at Gure Etxea.