Pintxo Roundup: Bocadillo Con Todo

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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

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Where: Nagusia Lau Bar, Donostia-San Sebastian

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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!

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Basque Stage Candidate Video!

Well this seems a little familiar…..

Here is my (second and hopefully last ;] ) Basque Stage Candidate Video!

I am no means, a film maker or video editor or screen writer or actor, so please bare with me people. I know the tacky transitions between clips is pretty unbearable, but hey…. I tried my best to make it a little bit more enjoyable for you guys! I always find it pretty hard to talk about myself, letalone, record myself, so this is me trying my hardest to get my point out. Point being…… I have never wanted or worked so hard for something in my life. Getting to stage in Spain under some of the greatest chefs would be a dream come true for me. Spanish food is something real dear to me and it has become a huge part of who I am as a chef. I have so much more to learn and all I want in the end is to open peoples’ eyes (and mouths!) to the greatness of Basque Cuisine!

So here it is…..

 

Thanks for your time and wish me luck!

-Justin

P.S. If my video were a drinking game, ya’ll would get super drunk off of how many times I say “Basque” and “Spain”

P.P.S. Peep the ‘NorthWest‘ Shirt I’m wearing at 0:18 secs. I love my city! Have to show the 206 some love.

P.P.P.S. Special Shoutouts to Irbille Donia for being a great camera man! And Minus the Bear (more 206 love) for making such a dope song that I needed to use it in my video.

I Had To Do It!!!!!

So I was looking through my photos in iPhoto and I came upon my pictures from a recent trip to the Bay Area while visiting family. (Miss you all and the Bay!) There were those very common vacation pictures like pictures with family, pictures of landmarks, food that you may have eaten at a restaurant, etc. But the moment I saw these set of pictures, I just knew I had to post it up here….

One thing I love so much about the Bay Area is that there is a pretty large Filipino population. I am so, so proud to say that I am 100% Filipino, so I always feel “at home” whenever I go down there, solely for the fact that I was born there and that there are so many Filipinos there that it’ll make you feel like you’re actually in the Philippines. And I have always believed, “Where there is a lot of Filipinos, there is even more Filipino food!”. And let me tell you, there was SOOOO much great Filipino food around and it made me a very happy guy. I have a lot of thoughts about Filipino cuisine, but thats for another post coming soon…. This post is primarily about one specific type of  Filipino food. Probably one of the most talked about Filipino ever, Balut!

That ain't no regular hard-boiled egg!

For those of you who aren’t of aware of what Balut is, let me break it down to you in the simplest form ever. Boiled 19 day old duck fetus. Well… give or take a day. But still… Doesn’t sound (or look) like the most  appetizing ever. Surprisingly, it is a very popular street food that is quite accessible at any Filipino Market.

My heart was pumping, my hands were sweaty, but I just knew….. I had  to do it! The funny thing is that this was my second time doing it! But still, even thinking about eating Balut still has got my stomach turning in knots.

Staci's first crack into the egg!

So I took my warm egg from the brown baggie and had started it the way I was always taught. Crack a hole in the roundest side of the egg and carefully peel the egg shells away from the bottom of the egg, exposing a “hollow” spot from an air pocket that is created when the duck is cooking. When you look into the hole you have created, you see some liquid that rests atop what looks to be an imploded-overcooked hardboiled egg. But its not…. its the duck (Gah!) The liquid in the egg is meant to be sipped out before you peel the rest of the egg to the real good stuff. The ‘broth’ actually has a large amount of flavor. It tastes like a very gamey, intense duck broth, that is at the same time, pretty light. Add a dash of vinegar, and you get a whole different complexity of flavors that I can say I actually quite enjoyed.

Staci Modeling the exposed fetus. Spoiler alert.. SHE DIDN'T EAT IT.

Next, came the exposure of the duck. I carefully peeled the rest of the eggs shell off of the poor, poor duck and then looked at it…. and looked at it… and looked at it… It wasn’t until another minute when my cousin finally grew impatient and was like, “Are you going to do it or not!! C’mon dude!” It was time. It was now or never! So I sprinkled a good amount of sea salt onto what I think was the thigh of duckling (I couldn’t tell what I was looking at actually, it just looked like a mess!). And I took a bite. A HUGE bite. I bit off more than I could take…. Literally. I remember not being able to open my jaw after the first initial bite because of what was about to come after. I closed my eyes to hide back the little tear I knew was trying to escape and then took another chew. *CRUNCH*. Oh my god…..* CRUNCH* Yep, thats a beak… *CRUNCH*… And there goes the back bone… It was one of the most excruciating 4 minutes of chewing in my life. And this was the only the first bite.

I'm going in!

They recommend eating the whole Balut in 2 bites. Why 2 bites? I really don’t know. Maybe so you don’t have visually feast your eyes on the fetus to make your experience of eating baby duck fetus a little bit more enjoyable? Who knows. All I got to say is that regardless of all the displeasing things I have had to say about Balut, I actually had a real good time eating it. The flavor of the Balut itself wasn’t that bad, it was quite good actually. It just tastes like a very flavorful hard-boiled duck egg mixed in with duck liver and had some meaty texture that you’d expect from cooked quail. But with the addition of the crunch bones and the edible beak, head, brains, and feet, I think that is what really is the deal breaker for this Filipino delicacy.

Working on my second bite....

"Oh my God, why did I agree to do this!?"

There's still SO much more! Gah.....

It was a truly amazing experience. I can’t really remember my first experience with eating balut but I can say that I will always be able to remember this one. The best part of this whole Balut eating experience was when I was finally done with my first bite, my little nieces comes up to me and says, “Are you going to finish that? I’m already done with my first one!”.  SHE’S SUCH A BEAST! =]

Thanks for reading! Until Then….

-Justin

Seattle Weekly’s Voracious

I had the great opportunity to take part of Seattle Weekly’s Voracious event that takes place at the Paramount. It was my second year of representing The Harvest Vine and I got to say that this is probably one of the events that I am most excited to participate in all year.

The great thing about Voracious is the energy of the whole thing. I strive for events like this. It has all the componants for a great day. Great food. Tasty drinks. Music. And most of all, very happy people!

The Harvest Vine Voracious Crew!

It is such a great event solely for the fact that there are so many different restaurants and bars participating. Its definitely a great way to network within our community and also just to meet new faces.

Me modeling some Bocaditos de Cerdo. Pulled Pork in Profiterols with Pipparra Peppers.

The little bite that we had contribute to the event was a Bocadito de Cerdo. A bocadillo, or in this case, a bocadito, is a small sandwich in Spain. Our vessel was a profiterol for the perfect little bite. The filling was Moruno marinated pork. Its a very flavorful, 6 hour braised pork shoulder (even though its traditionally pork loin) that is packed with the smoky flavors of Spanish paprika, better known as pimenton. It was then skewered with a pickled pepper called a pipparra. It is not a spicy pepper, but has an acidic kick to really balance the flavors of the sandwich.

Mini Sandwich production well underway! Look at all those hungry people!

My favorite part of the night was being able to share with the audience the food we prepare. I was very excited to tell people about Spanish food and show my love and excitement for this cuisine. There aren’t a lot of Spanish restaurants around Seattle, so I love that we had the opportunity to not just show the flavors of Spain, but also bring some Spanish culture to the people of Seattle.

The Happy Crew celebrating with a very small shot of Cava! haha

Overall, Voracious was was such a success for all that participated as we all ran out of our tasty treats by the end of the night. The energy and the feeling of excitement in the venue was outrageous and I loved every second of it. Sad that it’ll be another year until the next one, but I’m sure there will be a lot of very exciting things to keep me occupied until then!