The Proper Way to Pintxo
"Pintxo" is a noun and not a verb, but given the unique nature of eating these dishes, they deserve their own action word. A pintxo is a small bite, commonly found in bars in the Basque region in Spain. Traditionally, the one-to-two bite items are an elegant stack of ingredients, speared with a toothpick, and secured with a base of crusty bread. Pintxo comes from pinchar, meaning to spear, hence the ubiquitous toothpick. Over time, the term has come to encompass other forms of snacks, such as mini sandwiches called bocadillos (and yep, they are pierced with a toothpick as well). The selection is laid out on a bar and you grab one, or several, to nibble on while sipping a glass of wine. Fried or other cooked items are available to order, as are platters of jamon and other charcuterie. Some people opt to stay at one place, but it is more common to travel the streets in search of multiple bites. Seating is limited; most people stand, eat, and talk, adding to the transient nature of this ritual. It's a versatile way to eat; it can be a pre-dinner snack, or an entire meal.
Unlike other European cultures, New York doesn't have the mindset that food must be served with wine, so in a city where wine can be a meal unto itself, pintxos tours haven't quite gained traction. Considering that the main mode of transportation in Gotham is walking, it is a city ripe for pintxo-ing; a recent event proved just how accessible this tradition can be.
Campo Viejo sponsored "Cava and Conservas" at Bar Jamon on June 6, showcasing their Cavas and Tempranillos alongside Bar Jamon's new menu of conservas. Guests were greeted with platters of cheese, jamon, tuna salad and various tins, all laid out on the gleaming marble bar.
We tasted through the Cava, Cava Rosé, Tempranillo, and Reserva, pairing each with various bites. The Cava was refreshing, an easy and versatile bubbly. The Cava Rosé was the crowd favorite; comprised of 100% Trappat, the grapes saw 12-15 hours of skin maceration, yielding a lovely rosy hue. Red fruits dominated the nose and palate, but it finished completely dry. Everyone was pleasantly surprised by the $10 price point of the Tempranillo. Although it was softer and lacked some of the earthy depth one looks for in the grape, it was thoroughly enjoyable. The Reserva, a traditional Tempranillo, Mazuelo, and Graciano blend, showed more structure and deeper fruits than its predecessor.
Then, in true pintxos crawl fashion, the party moved to Donostia, a twinkling Basque bar in Alphabet City. The long bar dominated the narrow space and platters of pintxos were jigsawed together on the narrow surface. To drink, the Campo Viejo Cava and Cava Rosé were freely poured, showcasing how these two bubblies paired perfectly with a wide range of flavors. Some guests nibbled on a couple of items before heading on to their evening plans, while others stayed and made a dinner of the pintxos.
The evening proved that New York is primed for pintxo-ing - are you ready?