A traveler friend had told me about these 'bruschetta-style tapas with toothpicks stuck in them' that I just had to try in Spain. She said, "I think they are called peen-chows or pint-oxe or pin-tox, something like that." Huh? Luckily, a Google search for Spanish 'pin-tox' was enough of a clue to find the information I needed for pintxos.
Pintxos (or pinchos) are small snacks typically served in Spanish bars, particularly popular in Basque country. These finger foods have an array of toppings placed on crunchy bread, spiked with a toothpick and displayed buffet style.
We were strolling through the charming beach town of Sitges when I peeked my head into Lizarran, a pintxos bar. Before deciding to enter for my very first pintxos experience, I watched others partake in order to familiarize myself with the system. I didn't want to be the one to screw with the system.
It looked easy enough, even for me; grab a plate, pick the snacks you would like to indulge in and return your barren toothpicks to be counted. You are then charged by the number of fruitless skewers you surrender at the register.
I can do this. I am good at choosing…eating…and even counting. Give me a plate.
I sensibly grabbed course two of my pintxos dinner, a cheese stuffed pimento pepper. As if adding just one more pintxo would complete my full supper quest.
The third course, which would lead to my 8th toothpick, featured chorizo, cured meat and baby eel.
Of course, with my strange food obsession I couldn't pass up nibbling on a little eel.
Even though eight toothpicks would have indicated the finish line for most people, I went back to pick out a second of my favorite pintxo.
In the end the slightly spicy chistorra sausage with charred padron pepper won a second visit to my mouth. Definitely worthy of being toothpick number nine.
9 pintxos. 2 cocktails. 1 memorable new adventure (& bucket list check). €17,90.
Have you had pintxos in Spain before? How many toothpicks did you rack up?