July 18, 2011

Orgasmic Pintxos

It's Pintxo Heaven.
Around this time last year I was strutting my stuffs on the Basque streets like a typical clueless tourist/student. The reason why I decided to go to San Sebastian was because of the food! And boy was I so grateful I made such a decision, it changed my life and touched my soul dramatically one dish at a time. The whole time I stayed there was just surreal. I remembered checking the clock all the time till I could run out of my class to go on my gourmet adventure. I even dated a waiter, that tells you how often I went to the pintxo bars.

The Basques love to eat, and good food and wine are their ways of life. The cuisine is emphasized on the quality of the ingredients; the harmony of taste, smell, and visual presentation; and above all, the passion and talent of the chefs. I often shiver with an almost orgasmic delight when a little bits of good food land on my lucky tongue, which happened almost all of the time when I was in Donostia. My Spanish was rusty no more when I came into a pintxo bar or restaurant to order what I want. They are pretty generous with wine, so I was always slightly intoxicated getting back to my rented apartment. Sometimes I stopped by the supermarket to stock up on the regional ham, cheese and black beer for a small snack before heading out to eat again.

Foie with Apple Sauce and Crushed Nuts
I ate a lot of foie gras, almost daily. I didn't turn into a fat cow, thanks mostly to the undying love of the kitchen lord. Even though Donostia has an efficient public transport system, I often walked my legs off since the city is very walkable. I remember resting on a bench at the Miramar Palace on the way back to Gros from my school near the Igara Tennis Club when I met my first Spanish lover of the summer.

But anyway, let's stick to foie gras, which I got the first bite when I was 16 during my first birthday celebration in the States, it got me hooked ever since. For about €3.00 to 5.00 a pintxo, or more for a racion, I got myself a good deal to nibble on daily. If you ask, I recommend you go to Iraeta's in Gros and ask for their Foie Gras in Caramelized Vodka, it's their signature dish. It was a fine balance of sweet and savory, and the moment the foie landed on my tongue, I swear to you, I almost creamed my pants. The foie with the pistachios you have seen above was taken from another bar somewhere in Parte Vieja that I couldn't remember the name though. 

Each bar has its own system of pricing. One of my favorite bars in Gros called Bar Bergara only charges €1.00 for any food item yet a lot more for a glass of wine. As seen below, the partially shown glass of white wine I got actually went very well with the crispy soft shelled crab and the croqueta de txipirones - fried squids on the bread. There was an either drunk or overtly excited old man to keep me company too. I learned Spanish through the people on the street even more so than that in class!

Crispy Soft-Shelled Crab and Fried Squids with Onions - Damn it I love Squids.

 It wouldn't hurt to have a ball of fried cheese once in a while. I felt so nostalgic when I saw Sunny Anderson made fried goat cheese on the Food Network a while ago. It's a year already, time runs by so quickly.

Crispy Cheese Ball - The emulsion is fruity!

Right next to the ocean, the seafood is fresh. It's not Kosher, I know, but who wants shrimps?

Grilled Savory Shrimps - The sauce was tangy

One of the most exciting dishes I got to eat was La Hoguera from Parte Vieja's Bar Zeruko.The test tube was a concoction of effervescent green herbs and there was a chunk of smoky coal to smoke/grill the raw bacalao (cod) right on the spot. You eat the fish, then the cracker then dunk the test-tube down. I smoked the whole place up, yet my fellow diners just laughed it off with me. Fabulous!

La Hoguera
Clearly, the pic didn't do the dish justice at all. So how about a video then? I took my classmate there to check it out. She loved it! Notice the annoying kid who later put on a dramatique coughing fit because of the smoke. The parents were salivating the whole time though, everybody was! And I was completely in love with the cute waiter, but I dated the one working at La Txalupa down the street, not this one though.What a twist!

When you are there, follow your eyes and your nose. The bigger the crowd the better the food. In my future post, I'll talk about my dining experience in the restaurants there. This post is entirely about food in pintxo bar. One post is never enough.

Oh, did I tell you that I went studying abroad via a program sponsored by the University of Nevada called USAC, their website is right here, check it out. When I get married, our honeymoon will be in the Basque Country, you mark my words.


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