Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Put a spike in it - Pintxos in San Sebastian

We arrive in San Sebastian, the food mecca of Spain if not the world. The first thing that comes to mind is pintxos. And when you think pintxos, you think bars & counters lined with plates of little snack foods. The word pintxos means spike, aptly so as mostly these little bites are spiked with a skewer. At some bars the pintxos spikes are collected, either on the side of your plate, straight on the counter, or in some cases in a little cup like device on the counter - these are then counted and then billed per piece. If they are not needed for counting, the tradition is to just throw them on the ground, along with any napkins & debris, which makes for an interesting idea as the night goes on ....

San Sebastian

Gildas are the most common, found in almost every bar and usually just sitting on the counter. Gilda means lollipop, and is an assembly of a Spanish Guindilla chilli, a plump olive and an anchovy all spiked on the end of a skewer, or pintxos. “It is said that it was invented at a San Sebasti├ín bar and named after Rita Hayworth’s spicy performance in the 1946 film of the same name.”

San Sebastian

The combination of salty & spicy is harmonious, and with a crisp Txakoli is the perfect aperitif on a Sunny San Sebastian afternoon. Txakoli is another staple of the Basque country. It is a white wine that has a light spritz, due to the way it is poured into tall glasses from great height, with a special aerating spout. The wine is crisp & dry, with a pale green colour. It is always drunk young, never more than a year old ... not that it's likely there would ever be surplus lying around, it's just that good !!

San Sebastian

One variety of pintxos sure grabbed our attention. It was like a bridge .. leading to where we are not sure. Slices of tuna were sandwiched between 2 half gherkins and all fanning out from half a raw onion. We didn't try one, but it sure was a spectacle.

San Sebastian

Some versions are crafted on slices of toasted bread, and don't actually have the spike.

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Even Arzak serves pintxos with their appetizer. On our visit we had a delicious anchoa y fresca.

San Sebastian

Upon our pintxos crawls, as well as enjoying litres of Txakoli, we also discovered a new drink while are at A Feugo Negro ... Kalimotxo which is a blend of Spanish Rioja red wine with coca-cola. Served over ice, it is very easy to down several of these with their cherry-cola similarities.

San Sebastian

Ah, a culture that basis itself around eating and drinking ... this is what I am talking about !!

San Sebastian

2 comments:

Simon Food Favourites said...

i loved the pintxos in san sebastian. such a lovely town to walk around and bar crawl (literally) :-)

Kat and Kim said...

we definitely did plenty of "crawling" ... most of it due to food induced coma then too much drinking !! there always seemed to be a happy balance of food / drink. San Sebastian, and all the pintxos, was indeed a blast !!