Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Pintxo, pintxo!

(pron. 'pincho, pincho!')

So, Papa Saucepan was planning a gathering in the garden. There was a significant number hovering in the air, and it seemed some kind of celebratory shindig was due. We - the younger saucepan and I - proffered our catering services of course, were duly taken up on the offer and it went to work on a Spanish kind of theme. I forget what it was now, but there was something to eat up - chorizo, olives, or somesuch Iberian delicacy. And besides, PS had a string of Spanish flags, proclaiming 'Wines of Spain', which we could use to deck the trees (this is the kind of aesthetic the Saucepan household tends to go for). No idea where that came from - did PS sneakily remove it at a wine trade fair? Was he offered it as a prize? Or was it left over from working in the wine shop, 20-odd years ago? I never found out...
Anyhow, somehow I got onto pintxos. I think I had been searching tapas, and pintxos popped up, and as soon as I discovered that they are pronounced 'pinch-ose' I set my heart upon them. I honestly can't think of a more euphoniously named food right at this moment.
Using the marvellous food blog search I sourced inspiration; largely from the dough ball, who had done a magnificent job documenting her pintxo and non-pintxo culinary adventures in San Sebastian (a place very high up on my must-visit list). Essentially these are just little open sandwiches, and you can let your imagination run riot with what to place on top.
Incredibly enough, I was organised enough to do not one but two test runs for my pintxo performance. The first was fun but kind of unimpressive. By the second however, my ideas were sleeker and bolder and more refined, and if I say so myself, pretty damn good.
I did happen to be in Madrid the next weekend after and ended up in a bar where there were some pintxo-style things sitting in front of us on the bar as we supped coffee waiting for lunch to start being served. And it dawned on me that the whole idea of these little Spanish canapes was advance preparation, easy serving. We, however, had fun rushing in and out of the kitchen every half hour to freshly prepare another batch. Now I think about it, most could be served cold, so all that running around is not really necessary.
Anyway, enough babbling, let me introduce you to each little specimen. In a slightly off-on-a-tangent twist, I decided to pair them with shoes, like we're on a little fashion catwalk. There's something about them all being so pretty and different lined up together that reminded me of a shoe shop, and with exams coming up soon and how I promised myself if I passed my ACA I would be allowed an extravagantly pretty pair of shoes, somehow the two ideas got all mixed up in my mind...


So, number 1, the courgette and grape combo.


Accompanied by some equally light, playful and refreshing Chie Mihara flats, this one is made of ribbons of courgette, lightly sauteed in olive oil with a heap of lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice, and topped with toasted pine nuts and grapes roasted in pomegranate molasses (about 40 mins in a medium hot oven). Yay, I finally got to try roasted grapes after being intrigued about them ever since Claudia cook-eat-fret posted about this peculiar idea. They're delicious. And an excellently sweet and rich match for the light and lemony courgette.

Onto number 2, the beef and mushroom

A more classic combo, this is just thin slices of medium-rare beef steak, tossed with fried wild mushrooms, which have had a glug of red wine or sherry reduced in them. We topped it off second time round with some chopped flat leaf parsley which really added something. The shoe is likewise both classic and sexy, (albeit a little more technically proficient than my basically-an-open-steak-sandwich!) - a beautifully sculptural Nicholas Kirkwood.

Number 3, tuna and red onions
Seared tuna steak slice atop caramelised red onion (1 red onion fried off til soft in olive oil, 1tsp muscovado sugar and 1tsp balsamic vinegar added, and cooked down til dark and rich) and lovely piquant little capers. Equally elegant, smooth but spiky is this lovely Reiss patent indigo number

and, numero quatro... bold, possibly a teensy bit ugly, but bright and bam! full of flavour.

That's homemade tapenade (just a load of Crespo's dried black pitted olives whizzed up with a food processor), topped with slow roasted cherry tomatoes (an hour in a low-medium oven with just olive oil, salt and pepper), and lightly steamed green beans. It is not quite so pretty, a little messy and ott looking you might even say, but velvety deep in the roasted toms, spiky with saltiness, and very tasty. And another Chie Mihara to match...

So, introducing the Morcilla pintxo...

A lovely rich slice of roasted piquillo pepper - char it under a grill or on a hob flame until blistered, cover in cling film til cool, and peel off all that pesky burnt skin - topped with a delicious soft and smooth butterbean salad (butterbeans, olive oil, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, paprika), and a couple of slices of fried black pudding (which I'm calling morcilla, as 'black pudding' doesn't have quite the same Iberican ring to it). Scrumptious. And that, is a wedge heel from The Jacksons of Notting Hill - velvety and smooth with lots of contrast and rich colours too.


And... last, but certainly not least:
A slice of ripe beef or plum tomato. A couple of sprigs of rocket. A slice of juicy, fragrant mango. Three quickly fried fat chilli and lime marinaded prawns. A sprinkling of pepper. Vibrant and exotic and just lovely. Nicholas Kirkwood again on the right. That's not a shoe; that's a work of art.

Ok, I've spent far too long writing this post, and I am feeling like some kind of bizarre sommelier from some peculiar world where instead of suggesting a pleasant Riesling or fruity Burgundy to accompany Madam's excellent choice, I proffer instead various items of accompanying footwear...

I should get back to work.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Who knew -- just as every food can be paired with the perfect wine, every food can also be paired with the perfect shoe? Hhhmmm... I've got to mull this over. But I can say without hesitation that the food looks wonderful.