Basque Cuisine 101: Tapas or Pintxos in San Sebastian?

Basque Cuisine 101 - Pintxos or Tapas?

Pintxos or Tapas in San Sebastian?

We are really looking forward to our upcoming tour to Spain’s Basque region and in particular our 3 night stay in San Sebastian, often called the ‘Paris of Spain.’ Basque cuisine has become enormously popular and I can’t wait to experience the local version of tapas, called pintxos in the local language.

We will have a great comparison because we will already have been to one of the tapas epicenters of Spain, Calle Laurel in Logroño where we stay for 5 nights on our Rioja tour. San Sebastian’s equivalent is the Parte Vieja or Old Quarter, where there are legions of pintxos bars. The tradition is that one person in your group treats everyone at the first stop, and then everyone takes a turn treating at subsequent stops. It’s such great fun and what’s nice is that there are no pretensions; you just walk up to the counter, select your pintxos and a glass of wine, consume and then move on.

I will confess to being a consumer ‘foodie’ rather than a preparer ‘foodie’ since I don’t enjoy the preparation and cleanup. But I am planning to do some homework to prepare myself for Basque cuisine and I’d like to share with you my homework assignments. I have 2 succinct YouTube videos  recommended to me by my wine buddy, Len Gulino. The first focuses on pintxos: how to prepare, how to consume, and where to find then in San Sebastian and features a fellow New Haven native, Mark Bittman, who writes for the NY Times. (Go to the 1:20 mark on the video.)

The second video is devoted to one of the great restaurants in the world, Arzak, and again Mark Bittman takes us to the kitchen where the chef prepares a traditional dish for us.

As I said, I’m more a ‘consumer foodie’ but I plan to do some research on the preparation of pintxos and I’ve found a great site Tapas Bonitas which I plan to visit many times before getting to San Sebastian. It has everything you’ll need to know about tapas or pintxos.

And after we return I plan to follow up with our personal experiences and insights of our tapas hopping experiences.

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