So, What is a Pintxo?!

05/11/2022

Basque Country is famous for their pintxos. People from all around Spain know about pintxos. If you are not from Spain you may be thinking, "So, what is a pintxo?"

A pintxo (pincho in Spanish) is a small dish that you will find in most dining establishments in Basque Country. Pintxos aren't a specific thing but rather an idea or concept or what food can be.

Pintxos are not tapas. Tapas are often what many people visualize when they think of pintxos. Tapas are a smaller version of a full sized dish. Pintxos are specifically designed to be a small size. There is no larger size of a Pintxo. If you want more of the dish you need to order multiples.

Pintxos are designed to be eaten in no more than a few bites. They usually come on bread and are staked with a cocktail stick. They are generally kept behind glass on top of the bar. Beyond these few commonalities there are no real rules to what a pintxo can and can't be. They can be made up of a variety of different meats, veggies, and seafood.

This wonderfully delicious finger food forms the spine of Baque cuisine. Pintxo comes from the Spanish root word "pinchar" which means to "poke" or "stab." Over the years the variety of pintxos has increased dramatically. Artists do love to create new works of art. However, there is one pintxo that you will find at pretty much every establishment. And that is the Spanish omelet.

Restaurants where Anthony Bourdain had pintxos

Anthony Bourdain, the world renowned chef, spent some time in Basque Country discovering the traditions and styles of Basque cuisine. Although the late Boudain did go on at least one night of bar/pintxo hopping in San Sebastian (Donostia) we don't know all the places he ventured. However, the two places where he undoubtedly ate pintxos are Haizea and Gabara.

Haizea

Haizea's address is Aldamar Kalea, 8, San Sebastian. This pintxo bar is just outside what is considered the old town (casco viejo). For this reason it attracts less tourists than other establishments in the old town. It is rather unassuming in presence but It boasts a selection of traditional pintxos as well as some that are unique to Haizea. It is beloved by locals.

While at Haizea, Bourdain paired his pintxos with Chacoli. Chocoli is a sparkling wine that is unique to the region. It is a very light beverage and has a low alcohol percentage.

Ganbara

Ganbara's address is Calle de San Jerónimo, 21, San Sebastian. It is conveniently located within the old town (casco viejo), Ganbara has been delighting those who eat there for over 25 years.

Bourdain specifically mentioned Ganbara as his favorite place to get pintxos. He ate Iberico ham with mushrooms on toast, seared mushrooms and foie gras with egg yolk, along with tartlets.

If you are curious about other places Anthony Bourdain ate check out the Anthony Bourdain World Map.

Spanish Omelet

The Spanish omelet is vastly different from the traditional French omelet that you would normally make at home or have for breakfast. The Spanish omelet is not traditionally eaten for breakfast but later on in the day.

So what is the difference between the French and Spanish omelets? A few things, but the biggest difference is the potato that is fried in oil before being cooked in with the egg. The egg and the potato make up 90% of the dish. The other main ingredient other than oil is onion.

Like with other pintxos you can find a ton of variations of the spanish omelet. It is quite common to have cheese or ham, or both in it. It is pretty much always served with bread. It is a culture of bread lovers. It is very uncommon, if not practically a sin to have a meal without bread. Thankfully, they do bread in this region very well!

Patatas Bravas

This spicy potato dish is a typical dish. Though it is not technically a pintxo it is a nice compliment. And unlike pintxos, patatas bravas you will need to eat with a fork.

These potatoes are fried in oil till they are crispy on the outside but still soft on the inside. They are then seasoned and plated.Once plated the potatoes are then sauced and often garnished before making it out to you. 

The traditional sauce that accompanies this dish is a spicy one. The base of the sauce is usually tomato and cayenne. Beyond those two base ingredients the sauce may vary between restaurants.

Patatas Bravas are a must try and are incredibly delicious. The patatas bravas displayed in this article not only have the traditional spicy tomato sauce but a cheese sauce and avocado topping as well.

Mosto

Mosto is the Spanish word for grape juice. You can choose between red and white with the white being the sweeter of the two. It is a very popular non alcoholic pairing to a pintxo.

Mosto is usually served in a tumbler glass and is accompanied with an olive and an orange slice. It's very tasty! 

Pintxos are a cultural phenomenon to the region and embody the life here. They can be found in every part of Basque Country. The flavours, the creativity and the passion that goes into creating a pintxo is well worth the time and effort. 

Not convinced? 

Come to Basque Country, try the pintxos, your palate will thank you for it.

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