Pintxo Roundup: Burger de Potro

Warning!! This blog post might offend many people out there. Please, don’t let this post change or alter your thoughts about the person I am. Because in the end….. Its just f*$^n’ food!

Where: La Urbana Burgo Bar, Pamplona, Spain

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Pintxo: Burger De Potro

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“Have you ever had horse?” 

“Uh……. No???”

“You want to?”

“Uh……. Sure???”

This is the conversation that a new friend I met during my visit in Pamplona had the moment we stepped in to La Urbana Burgo Bar. I was surprised at how easy it was for me to just to say yes to, well you know, eat a freaking horse!!

I was reading through the menu and I was already kind of iffy about having a burger. Mainly because it is actually quite difficult to find a good burger out here in San Sebastian. Maybe I’m just too picky or I’m spoiled by the great burger places we have in Seattle (i.e. Lil Woody’s, 8oz Burger Bar, Lunchbox Labratory, Dick’s Drive-Ins). But it seemed that this joint might have been pretty promising because it was super packed with happy diners who all seemed to be enjoying their burgers.

“Dos Troti por favor”, Mark asked the server. So we waited. With beers in hands. Anxiously waiting to taste the meat of…. horse…. To be honest, I was actually kind of nervous! I’m about to eat HORSE. Did I mention that it was also young horse?! It’s the equivalent to veal to a cow. That’s all I could really think about. It’s just like that moment when you get in line for a roller coaster you think you’re really wanting to go on. But as you get closer to the front of the line, you’re like, “Oh shit…. Do I really want to do this?”

But of course, as scared as you may be as you step onto that roller coaster, you end up walking off with a huge head-rush and having the time of your life. And this burger ended up being probably one of the better burgers I’ve had here in Spain. It’s meat was very lean. Very flavorful. And was almost a cross between venison and beef. I was quite surprised at how much I wanted to eat more and more of it. There was really not one thing I could complain about this burger. Well, other than wishing there was more!

Now I guess I can check ‘eating horse’ off my bucket list. I have told many people about this experience and the reactions and comments I have got from them haven’t been   really that great. But hey, I’ve always told myself that I’ll (almost) always try something once and in the end, I really am glad I had this experience. Who knows…. Horse burgers the next trend in America??? Most likely not… But we’ll see!

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!

8 Legged Friend: The Octopus

One of the questions we that guests ask us at the most at the Harvest Vine is, “When are you guys going to get Galician Octopus back?” There was a time when my chef would bring in octopus in that were imported from the waters of Galicia. I have never had anything as exquisite as Galician Octopus in my life. I still remember the first time I experienced eating this delicate, most tender, and flavor-packing piece of octopus. It was served perfectly as a pintxo in the Pulpo a la Gallega style at the Harvest Vine’s sister restaurant, Txori. Its a dish where simplicity really shines. All the pintxo consisted of was a slice of the ever-so tender octopus tentacle with a sliced steamed red potato. It was then finished off with some smoky pimenton, very coarse sea salt, and then drenched in a shower of the finest Arbequinia olive oil we had in house. It was the ‘Perfect Bite’. I’ve never had octopus with such luxurious and silky texture as Galician octopus.

Pulpo at Txori Bar.

Sadly, the days of getting Galacian Octopus is long gone as it is a very expensive product to import in. At the time, Txori was open, so it was easy to share the large amount of imported octopus between the two restaurants. But there has been some rumors floating around the restaurant that we actually might be thinking about getting some in so let’s cross our fingers!

Luckily, we are still able to get in some beautiful octopus and baby octopus from Atlantic waters that are just as delectable and tasty! There are so many ways that we can utilize the octopus and all of its part.We serve the octopus in many different variations from the classic Pulpo a la Gallega to using it in a alioli-bathed salad with white beans and chorizo. But what it all comes down to is how the octopus is cooked to make it into the most tender piece of meat ever!

Me and the 8 legged beast!

Cooking octopus is as easy as just putting it in a pot of boiling water and letting it simmer for hours until its tender. But there are a bunch of little things that we do to help make sure that our pulpo comes out as tender as it can get. One of the many myths of cooking octopus is the infamous red-wine cork in the water pot. I have heard from many different people as of why we put the cork in the pot. One reason why is that the tannins from the left over wine on the bottom of the cork helps break down the octopus. I have also heard that its actually the type of wood the cork is made from that helps with tenderizing of the octopus. All I know is that we throw it in and it works like magic!

Only one is needed!

We also use a 3 stage blanching process before we actually leave the octopus in the pot of water to simmer away. So what we do is we bring a pot of water with the wine cork to a boil and then we drop in the octopus. Of course the temperature of the water drops when we throw in the octopus so we then wait for it to come up back to a boil, then we remove the octopus. We then repeat this process 2 more times and on the last time, we leave the octopus in to simmer until its tender!

Our friend after the second time being dunked in hot water.

The way we can tell the octopus is done is by carefully pulling two tenticals away from each other and seeing if the connecting skin between the two legs carefully tear away from each other. It is very easy to over cook octopus, so you got to make sure you check it regularly after the first couple of hours. We then chill it and then portion the octopus for service!

Sectioned Octopus!

From here we are able to portion it any way want from cutting the tentacles into little medallions or to leaving them in larger pieces so they will hold up on the grill. The octopus head is actually one of the meatiest part of the animal so we save them up and then dice them up to use up in a salad for the menu or even for our pintxo, or amuse bouche.

At the Vine right now, we have the grilled pulpo on the menu. We dress the grilled tentacle with a nice marinade of pimenton, parsley, and olive oil and then serve it atop a smooth puree of chickpeas. It’s has the nice flavors of the traditional Pulpo a la Gallega but has that different touch with the nutty flavor and textures of the garbanzo puree.

My Sous Chef's, Allyss, beautiful plate of grilled octopus!