Pintxo Roundup: Bocadillo Con Todo


So one of the greatest aspects of living in San Sebastian is that I have access to so much amazing food. I am surprised I haven’t started this earlier, but I have decided to start writing about random pintxos that I have eaten throughout my trip. My Pintxo Roundups are great because it makes me able to share the great (and bad!) food I have devoured. Also, it’ll be a great filler between my blog posts! So here we go with my first official Pintxo Roundup.

Pintxo: Bocadillo Con Todo


Where: Nagusia Lau Bar, Donostia-San Sebastian


So I got to admit, this isn’t the greatest of pintxo bars in Donostia that I have been too. It has a nice variety of pintxos with adequate quality of ingredients. I chose to feature this as my first Pintxo Roundup because it was one of the closest bites of food that reminds me of something I’d get in America.

I’m pretty sure it actually isn’t called Bocadillo con todo, which translates to sandwich with everything,  because it literally had everything that a sandwich should have. Not a puny little sandwich with a slap of cured meat, which i actually find quite delicious. I grabbed this bocadillo on the go on my way back to work because my stomach was growling and it was the most substantial looking thing on the bar. And at only 2 euros, you can’t go wrong! It consisted of a nice slab of ham, bacon, sliced tomatoes, cheese, and slathered in alioli. It was actually rather enjoyable and melded really well together, especially with the garlicky mayonnaise to bind all the flavors together. The bread wasn’t half as bad either.

I apologize now to all of the people who had to watch me mow down on this messy sandwich as I was rushing back to work. Atleast you all got to see me thoroughly enjoy this monster of a bocadillo!

There Is A Heaven. Believe Me, I’ve Seen It.

So after 3 connecting flights from Seattle through Chicago, Boston, and Madrid, I finally made it into San Sebastian. Surprising, my flying experience wasn’t as brutal as I thought it was going to be. Thank goodness!

I arrived at San Sebastian Airport and was instantly spotted by Andoni, one of the people who help out with the Basque Stage. I grab my luggage and then we were off to see San Sebastian for my first day as a Basque Stage Rising Star!


There is a heaven. Believe me I’ve seen it.


This place is unbelievable. That is basically the best way I can describe San Sebastian. Yeah, it’s been only about a week, but i’m still in disbelieve that I’m actually here. This is the one place I have been wanting to visit ever since I started working at the Vine. And now that i’m actually here, it’s like i’m getting to see this amazing country in High Definition. It’s all so real.

So upon my arrive in the Basque Country, I was ready to just see everything. Without any plan Andoni and I left the airport and made our way to where everything is happening.

I had a real great time with Andoni as he showed me around town. The first place he took me was to one of his favorite pintxo bars called, Borda Berri. He recently just had surgery so he had the pleasure of watching me scarf down couple plates of pintxos and a nice glass of txakoli. I was pretty excited that I was able to understand most of the menu. I surprisingly wasn’t too hungry from being jacked up after a 14 hour flight. So I only started with two pintxos. Andoni recommended the Kebab de Costilla de Cerdo, but they were sold out of the already unfortunately. But that’s alright. It gives me another reason to return and try it later! So I ordered the Pulpo a la plantxa con membrillo (Octopus seared on the plancha with quince paste) and Arroz Bomba con Txipiron-Maiden (Bomba Rice with Calamari). After I put in my order, I order a glass of txakoli while I wait. Andoni fills me in about San Sebastian and I express to him how excited I am to finally be out there. The food then comes and I start indulging into my first bites in Spain.


Both dishes were really great. Seasoning was pretty spot on. The seafood was cooked perfectly. And a lot of surprises in each and every bite. I have never really seen pulpo paired with quince paste but it was delicious. The flavors were perfectly balanced between the creamy potatoes, pimenton oil, alioli, and ever so tender octopus. And each bite that had membrillo was just so new and refreshing that I really think that it is a matched in heaven. It is definitely the best octopus dish I’ve had so far in San Sebastian. The calamari dish was really delicious as well. After the first couple bites, I really felt like that the dish really could have benefited from a nice squeeze of alioli, but then I reached to the bottom of the bowl and there laid a pool of it! I was so happy because it really turned a good dish into a really amazing one.

We then headed out and walked down more streets of the old part of San Sebastian. We stopped in another pintxo bar for one more bite. This time a pintxo with a hake and monkfish mouse with alioli on top of toasted bread. This was extremely delicious as it had a very mild fishy flavor and had a super light and creamy texture. It was like eating a fish rillette cloud.


Andoni then proceeded to show me the more of San Sebastian and took me to the docks that overlook all of La Concha. Luckily, it was a gorgeous day. Apparently, it had rain the majority of the past 3 months so it was nice to get to see everyone out and about. The view was gorgeous and it left me speechless.

Later we met up with my new roomie, Susy Santos, who is the Basque Stage Top Chef winner, as well has the previous Basque Stage Rising Star winner, Clifton Su. They have been here in the Basque Country for the last 3 months and I have been able to read their amazing experiences on their blogs. Sadly, Clifton flew back to his home in Cali the next day, but I was really glad to meet the guy behind the keyboard.


We then headed back to Lasarte-Oria, my new home. We all hung around for a couple hours and then we went out to Lasarte, a bar that is close to our apartment. We all ordered a Calamares con Alioli. This was basically a deep fried calamari sandwhich that is slathered with the famous garlicky alioli. It was huge and so good. Lasarte is definitely a cool place and will be my go to bar whenever I need a quick trip out of my home. We all head home and then it was lights out since Clifton had to head to Bilbao at 4 to catch his flight at 6:30.

This was how my first day went in San Sebastian. It could’t have been more perfect as it was filled with good company, beautiful weather, and some great food and wine. I am ready for the Basque Country and all the adventures that it’ll bring. Til next time…..


Beef Tongue: The Better Roast Beef

If there is one thing that I try to get guests to try at The Harvest Vine, it would have to be the Beef Tongue. Beef Tongue is just one of those dishes that people seem to be so scared off because of what it is…. a tongue of a cow.  Most of the people who are disgusted with beef tongue usually explains to me that they actually have had it before, usually made by their parents or grandparents, but it was just never good. Well thanks moms, dads, grand mothers and grand fathers. You have ruined something so great to these people and its time for a redemption…

Say Ahhhhhh!

It might not sound like the most appetizing thing to eat, let alone look like something that a human should ever have to put into their mouth, but I feel that is a completely versatile piece of meat. It’s like the better roast beef. When you thinly slice it, it’s perfectly good served cold.  It has the melt in your mouth texture that resembles the texture of a perfect slice of roast beef along with a great red wine flavor and saltiness that it absorbs in the brining process. You can the tongue into thicker pieces and sear each side of of the slice until its peferctly crispy and caramelized and still retain that great texture that the tongue has.

This is the process that a beef tongue undergoes until it reaches ultimate (and very edible) tastiness.

We brine the tongue(s) in a red wine brine with salt, sugar, aromatics, mirepoix, and of course, red wine for atleast 3-4 days. Brining aids with the flavor and texture of the tongues outcome.

Tongue In Brine!

Then we strain the mirepoix and aromatics then discard the brining liquid. We caramelize the mirepoix in hot pans and then add tomato paste and choricer paste then cook it down. Deglaze the pan with red wine and then add everything to the beef tongue and cover with beef stock/water with garlic cloves and herbs.

Tongue ready to be braised!

Braise at 325F for 4-5 hours with turning the tongue half way through until you can poke a knife or skewer through the tongue with no resistance. Then pull out tongue from liquid and let sit at room temperature until cool enough to handle. Strain the braising liquid from the mirepoix and etc and save for later use.

Tongues ready to be pulled out.

Once cool enough to handle but still warm, carefully pull off the skin from the meat from the tongue. You can do this while the tongue is cool, but it is much easier when the tongue is still warm. It should come off pretty easy but to take off skin with out ripping meat off, just carefully maneuver your finger between the skin and the meat, gently separating the two from each other. Otherwise, just go a head and rip that skin off!

The Naked Tongue

Once the skin is off, the tongue is all ready to use! Right now, our work has the tongue on the menu for Seattle Restaurant Week as a salad. The tongue is chilled then thinly sliced and then covered  with alioli (garlic mayonnaise), sliced pippara peppers, sea salt, and a really nice arbequinia olive oil. It’s a really simple salad that really lets the flavor of the beef tongue shine. The pipparas bring a nice acidic kick to the dish and then the alioli brings it all together to really balance out all of the richness of the tongue and the acidity from the pipparas.

Lengua de Vaca

Lengua de Vaca

We also have it on the brunch menu as a bocadillo (a small sandwhich in Spain) where we warm up the sliced tongue and then serve it with braising liquid as a dipping caldo (think like a French Dip, but rather a ‘Basque Dip’). There was also a request for a tongue dish so I made a dish with panaderas potatoes, seared tongue, 2 poached eggs, alioli, and demi. It turned out to be a great dish and the customer even said it should be put on the menu ASAP. We’ll see about that! =]

Beef tongue with Panaderas potatoes and Poached eggs.

This was a great post to me because I love trying to get people to try to be more adventurous and to be not so afraid of food like this especially when they are something as delicious as tongue!

Food Blog Candidate Post: Piquillos Rellenos de Morcilla

Piquillos Rellenos de Morcilla

Piquillo Pepper filled with Blood Sausage

MMM.... Blood Sausage....

I chose to do this dish for my Basque Stage application because it was the first dish that had introducd me to what I now know as “Basque Cuisine”. My at-the-time girlfriend had taken me to this restaurant that her Uncle, who is currently my chef now (weird, right?), was the chef of. ‘Txori’ was the name of the restaurant (which means ‘Bird’ in Basque.) and I remember not even wanting to attempt to pronounce that. It was a Spanish bar that served the Basque version of tapas called pintxos. I had no preception of what Spanish food was like and had no idea what I was getting myself into. And the first pintxo to be placed on front me was blood sausage. BLOOD SAUSAGE?! I was so flabergasted. But I knew I had to try it. And my mind was blown. I had found a new love. And I knew that it was the start of somehting big….I ended up interning at Txori, then got the opportunity to work there as well as their older sister restaurant, The Harvest Vine, and had learned how to create this dish as well as many other traditional Spanish dishes.

As delicious as it was served as a perfect pintxo, I think it really shines when placed in a composed dish with the peppery greens of frisee and acidic flavors from the sherry and piquillo vinaigrette.

Blood Sausage is one of my favorite things in the world and it is surprising pretty easy to make. This recipe breaks away from the traditional Morcilla and replaces the rice with apples to help make for a blood sausage with a good balance of spice and sweetness.

Piquillos Rellenos de Morcilla

Piquillo Pepper filled with Blood Sausage

Piquillo peppers

Eggs, for egg batter

Flour, for egg batter


Sherry Vinager

Arbequinia Olive Oil

Piquillo Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Alioli (garlic mayonaisse)


Parsley Oil

Piquillo Vinaigrette

Piquillo Peppers

Sherry Vinegar

Olive Oil



  1. Slice piquillos in half and scrape seeds out of pepper.
  2. Place peppers into blender and with the blender on, add the sherry vinegar and salt. Turn off and taste for acidity.
  3. When right acidity, slowly add olive oil until the vinaigrette is a bright orange color and the consistency is a thick, smooth sauce.
  4. Strain through chinois and then it is ready to be used.

For Blood Sausage

1# Pork Blood

1 oz fat back, grated

1# Fuji Apples, peeled and small diced

2.5# onions, Finely diced

Spice Mix

To Fold In

2 oz fat back, small diced

1/2# fuji apple, peeled and small diced

Spice Mix (for 1# pork blood)

Bay Leaves


White Pepper



Smoked Paprika, Pimenton


Onion Powder

(I’ll supply the ingredients, but you can mess with your own measurements to make the flavor the way you want it. Get creative!)

Ingredients For The Morcilla.


1.  In a wide pan over medium heat, render fat out of fat back and add onions. Sweat until translucent.
2. Add diced apples and saute for 3-4 minutes, until a little tender but still has a crunch.

Apples and Onions!

3. Meanwhile, Place the pork blood into a food processor and puree for 10 – 15 seconds to keep it from coagulating during the cooking process.

Look at how bright the blood gets!

4. Add the pork blood and spice mix to the onion/apple mixture and cook down until mixture is thickened. About 10 – 15 minutes. The blood will cook down quickly and the mixture might look a little tight but it’ll loosen up when pureed.

5. When thickened, cool mixture on a sheet tray until all the way chilled.
6. Puree the mixture until it is the consistency is pretty smooth, but with a little chunkiness of onion and apples down to the size of rice grains.
7. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and fold in diced fat back and diced apples.

8. Trim the open side of piquillos and remove all the seeds and then stuff the blood sausage until it fills the peppers.

To Finish Plate:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Heat pan on medium high heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom of pan.
3. Dredge stuffed piquillo into flour until fully coated and then cover in egg wash.
4. Take out stuffed pepper of egg wash and get rid of excess egg then add to the oil. Fry on one side until golden brown. Flip onto second side until golden brown. Then flip onto the last side and finish it off by putting it in the oven.

5. Meanwhile, toss frisee in a bowl with sherry vinegar, olive oil, and salt until greens are properly dressed.
6. Put piquillo vinaigrette and alioli onto the plate.
7. Take out the stuffed pepper from the oven and then add parsley to the hot oil and then spoon the hot oil and parsley over the fried pepper.
8. Transfer the stuffed piquillo onto the plate. Place frisee salad over the piquillo and garnish with parsley and parsley oil.

The Finished Plate.


Hope you guys enjoy this post. I had a great time putting it down on paper and really getting this recipe right.

Thanks again,