Pintxos en el País Vasco (y en casa)


An example of some of the typical pintxos you will see lining a bar

The Basque Country (el País Vasco) is a true gastronomic giant in Spain. From Michelin-starred restaurants, to traditional gastronomic societies (txokos) to the favourite bar snack of pintxos, it is difficult not to be wowed by the produce and food on offer. While tapas are a common sight throughout the rest of Spain, in the early 20th Century, the gastronauts of San Sebastián adapted the humble tapa into a more elaborate snack, often on a slice of baguette, and secured by a toothpick (pintxo means stick in Euskera, the language of the Basque Country).

Pintxos showcase local produce – cheeses, cured meats and preserved fish (anchovies or bacalao) often feature heavily – and the range from the simple croqueta de jamón on top of a slice of bread, to more complex creations with huevos de cordoniz (quail eggs), pimientos rellenos (stuffed peppers), pulpo (octopus), mejilla de res (beef cheek) and much more!

Most bars will display an array of freshly prepared pintxos along the counter and are reasonably priced, somewhere between 2 to 4 euros apiece. While it is tempting to order a large number and to call that lunch, or dinner, to appear more like a local, order one or two, with an accompanying beer, cider or wine.

Choose a glass of the locally produced txakoli – a crisp and slightly sparkling white wine – to cool you down on those warm summer days! You are also in for a treat if ordering the local cider. Tart and only lightly carbonated, it is poured from on high to increase the fizz!


An attempt at pouring the local sidra (cider)


Pintxos en casa

While today, it is hard to come by pintxos in Melbourne (they were previously readily available at Naked for Satan in Fitzroy), however why not try preparing some of your own at home with the following simple recipes. If you’re feeling extra adventurous be sure to check out El País - El Comidista for some more intricate ideas. If you prepare one of these at home, be sure to send us a photo of the results.


Gildas en Donostia (San Sebastián)

Gilda

A classic pintxo that is normally devoured in one mouthful!

Ingredients:

  • Small cornichons/gherkins
  • Anchovies
  • Olives
  • Preserved guindilla peppers
  • Long toothpicks

Method:

  1. Drain olives, guindillas and cornichons
  2. Skewer the cornichon
  3. Thread one end of the anchovy fillet
  4. Skewer two pieces of guindilla pepper
  5. Thread the other end of the anchovy so that it wraps the guindillas
  6. Skewer an olive
  7. Dress with olive oil and sea salt

Jamón y queso

Again a simple pintxo to prepare – the key comes down to using the best quality ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • Sourdough baguette
  • Jamón iberico or jamón serrano
  • Cheese of your choosing (manchego, cremosa o azul)
  • Olive Oil
  • Optional: Honey or Balsamic glaze for drizzling
  • Toothpicks

Method:

  1. Slice the bread on a slight angle
  2. Rub with a touch of olive oil
  3. Roughly fold a slice of jamón and place on the bread
  4. Top with a slice of cheese
  5. Skewer with toothpick and drizzle with honey or balsamic glaze


A take on the classic jamón y queso with a slice of morcilla (blood sausage)


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By Chris McBrearty
April 3, 2020


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