Monday, December 10, 2012

Andra Mari, a place for good... Tapas or Pintxos?

Andra Mari, San Sebastián, in Calle Zabaleta 42 in the neighborhood of Gros
Andra Mari reopened less than 2 weeks ago with new staff and new kitchen leaded by 2 chefs full of will and expertise who have joined the ownership: Angel Palacios and Luis Arrufat.
They have a new philosophy wanting to introduce Tapas in a world of Pintxos, why not? Maybe they can clarify the difference to all of us! In fact, they try to do so by writing interesting information on the subject in one big menu page.
Since people usually are not alone when going on these food adventures, here at Andra Mari the servings are larger than Pintxos which makes it easier to share an order. I'm quite sure the kitchen would take care of the situation in case you are on your own.
Here follow some pictures of great food...Tapas or Pintxos?:

patatas bravas, with the right touch of "picante"

papada (jowl in English) curada la mascarada

molleja (sweetbread in English) de ternera a baja temperatura

lengua (tongue) con setas (hongos, mushrooms in English), did you ever notice that both have the same sort of consistency, meaning "texture"?

cheesecake with local cheese and combined with crumble and apple sauce, therefore you don't loose the cheese flavor which usually occurs when combining it with berries

bizcocho de yogur y albaricoque

ninyo-yaki de chocolate y naranja, which is a sort of japanese modified dessert, similar to a bignè (cream puff in English)

the chefs

Sunday, December 2, 2012


On Thursdays in some of the Pintxo places, there is something called Pintxo-Pote.
It started years ago in the city of Vitoria, and consists of a special offer by which with 2 euro you get a pintxo and a glass of wine, beer or sidra.
Of course the places are crowded not only inside but also outside, even standing in the middle of the street, even if it's raining: everyone is there having their Pintxo-Pote evening!
For example in the neighborhood of Gros in San Sebastian I found many places offering Pintxo-Pote: Gora Bera, Bsiete, Mendi, Dardara, Portobello and many others.
Not knowing exactly how it works in areas like the Casco Viejo of San Sebastian and not finding a route with the list of places offering this bargain, the best thing is to just go out on Thursday night and wherever you see a very crowded Pintxo place, you can be sure it's offering Pintxo-Pote.
The quality is the same only the price changes!
Then, have ready in your pocket a 2 euro coin and just... enjoy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pintxos ... or Pinchos

It's possible that many people know what Tapas are: Spanish aperitifs to say it in very simple words.
Pintxos (Pinchos in Spanish) are the Tapas from the Basque Country, more sophisticated than they've ever mainly due to the drastic evolution of the Basque cuisine
Nowadays a Pintxo isn't usually pierced (pinchado) with a wooden stick as it was in its early days. It is often a small masterpiece of haute cuisine, elaborated with all the modern cooking techniques and served with fork and knife and bread on the side. They are something like the different servings of a Tasting Menu at any high end restaurant. There are also dessert-pintxos therefore you can really have a full course meal.
Pintxos are typically enjoyed while drinking a glass of wine, like an excellent local white wine called Txakoli, or a cold beer. There is an entire world of Basque culture in a Pintxo and its surrounding atmosphere, just try it and see. 
There is also a lot of literature on the subject. When wanting to buy a book, this makes it hard to choose only one. 
San Sebastian, being the core of this subject, is crowded with places to get your Pintxos. While yo can find them in all neighborhoods, like Gros for example that has several of the important places for Pintxos, El Casco Viejo, the city's oldest area, is the premier part of town to find a place for good Pintxos. There are so many places and restaurants, they are really one next to eachother; they are just all over the place.  
I‘ve chosen for this post one spot where I feel the Pintxos are excellent, particularly the hot ones because of their originality. It's a small Taberna called Astelena and has a great location in Plaza de la Constitución. I hope you enjoy the pictures and, in case you get too hungry while watching, just make yourself a Pintxo!... and enjoy.

Books on Pintxos
Astelena's counter

Astelena's blackboard menu 1

Astelena's blackboard menu 2

Glas of Txakoli Wine and Brocheta de Gambas 

Bacalao encebollado

Revuelto de Hongos

Revuelto de Hongos mientras uno se lo come

Foie de Pato

Croqueta de Pistachos

Brownies con Helado

Cheesecake Vasca con frutas rojas

Friday, November 16, 2012

Crème Brȗlée vs Crema Catalana

my first post from the trip....

Crème Brûlée and Crema Catalana, did you know that although they look the same they really are quite different?
Crème Brûlée is French while Crema Catalana is Spanish and they are both made with eggs, milk and sugar and presented in a ceramic bowl with caramelized sugar on top.
Still, although creme brûlée has cream and crema catalana doesn't necessarily have any, the main difference between them is that crema catalana gets its texture from cornstarch and is cooked stirring it at low heat while creme brulee doesn't have neither cornstarch nor flower and is cooked in a bain-marie at a low temperature oven.
Have you tried both? which do you like best?
Here are the 2 recipes as a welcome present for you:

Crème Brûlée

150 + 40
Egg Yolks
6 units
1/2 tsp*/beam
*tsp = teaspoon

Beat at moderate speed the egg yolks with the 100 g of sugar, lower the speed and add the other ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Pour the mixture into the molds, (you can use single portion ramekins or pyrex type molds which can also be of a larger diameter)
Cook uncovered in a bain-marie at a low temperature oven 120°C. 
Cooking time varies according to diameter and height of the mold:
1,5 cm height mold: 60 min. 
4 cm height mold:1h 10 min
cm diameter height: 1 h 20 min.

Refrigerate for a couple of hours or days. Before serving, sprinkle the rest of the sugar on the top of the cream and caramelize with a flame or by using your oven’s broiler. You can serve right away or wait for a couple of hours, not too long or the caramel might soften. Enjoy!

Crema Catalana

Egg yolks
7 units
100 + 40
Vanilla beam
 1 tsp*/beam
Orange zest
1 tsp*
Cinnamon stick
1 stick
*tsp = teaspoon 

In a pot and while stirring constantly, heat at low temperature, milk, vanilla, cinnamon stick and orange zest. Put it aside as soon as it begins to boil.
Beat slightly the egg yolks with the150 g sugar, add the cornstarch and finally, continuing to stir, add the warm milk with the spices that you put aside earlier. Pour again in the pot and heat at low temperature, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken, at this point put away from the heat right away and continue to stir for a minute.  Then, pour the mixture into the molds using a fine sieve, (you can use single portion ramekins or pyrex type molds which can also be of a larger diameter). Refrigerate for a couple of hours or days. Before serving, sprinkle the rest of the sugar on the top of the cream and caramelize with a flame or by using your oven’s broiler. You can serve right away or wait for a couple of hours, not too long or the caramel might soften. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The beginning

The trip is now beginning and with it this new blog!
Stay in touch with me so that you don't miss our first post during the next coming week... 
there could be a surprise in it!