Friday, November 9, 2007
I get it now
What a wonderful world we live in, that I can see Rufus Wainwright in concert singing Gershwin while wearing the knee socks and breeches of a Basque folk costume in San Sebastian. And how appropriately strange and alluring to eat pintxos before the concert in a city that values tradition but also loves surprises.
I walked into Bar Bergara with all the panache of an experienced solo tapas eater. I smoothly ordered a “copa de txakoli,” knowing I still wasn’t pronouncing it quite right but that I was getting closer. Then I looked at the jewel-like bites laid out in large platters, completely covering the counter. The counter, being plastered with pintxos, cleverly had a little shelf under the counter on which you could place your little plate of pintxos. That’s where I quickly took a stealth photo, and how lucky I am that it came out fairly focused because these were the best, most intensely flavored and most mind-blowing pintxos I have had so far.
The one on the left is revuelto, or scrambled eggs with roasted red peppers, with a little cross-hatch of roasted green pepper strips. An awesome combination of flavors and textures, the smoothness of the eggs, the sweetness of the peppers, the appropriate bright saltiness of the entire ensemble.
The one right behind is half a deviled egg on top of an anchovy on which is piled, believe it or not, shredded boiled egg white, topped with a dollop of aioli and a curled shrimp. I would never, never have thought of serving egg white like that, but it wasn’t just a showy trick, it was excellent. Again, so perfectly salty!
The third one is diced tomatoes and browned garlic tossed in fantastic olive oil, and then topped with golden fried onion bits and more green pepper. Like eating a bite of late summer.
The best one, I couldn’t even take a picture of it. Sorry, I already stick out enough, I can’t bring myself to wave my camera around. It was “foie gras con uva de oporto,” which I think translates as foie gras drizzled with grape-port wine sauce. So rich, so smooth, just sweet and tangy enough to make vow immediately to return.
To be honest, I’d enjoyed my pintxos and tapas up to this point, but I hadn’t really seen them as something worthy of extreme hype, just something lovely about Spanish culture. I get it now.