How is it even possible that so much could happen in one day? I feel like I’m exhausted all the time, because every day here feels like two or three (and trust me that is a good thing!) Much like Alexander Hamilton, all of us are non-stop as we truly are running out of time in this wonderful city, even though we basically just arrived.
On the morning of the 21st, my (very, very useful) “advanced beginner” Spanish class dragged on as I was so excited for that afternoon’s activity: a pintxo tasting tour in El Parte Gros. This is the part of the city closer to my homestay that most of us have not explored in favor of spending more time in the more densely packed Parte Vieja. I was especially excited about this part of the trip as I have an interest in haute cuisine and love being an adventurous eater. At home, it isn’t uncommon to see me flipping between episodes of Top Chef, Chopped, and my personal favorite, Bizarre Foods. The culinary arts are beautiful and a wonderful reflection of culture.
Now, when I picked this date for my blog post, I had been expecting to solely focus on the tasting tour in my writing, but so much else happened today and I feel that it would be unfair not to at least mention it! Before the tour, met up in front of La Playa de Zurriola, which is also the location of a huge jazz festival this weekend. A Spanish news crew spotted us and interviewed us about the headliner, Gloria Gaynor. The eight of us sang a few lines of “I Will Survive” for the camera! How surreal is it to go to a foreign country, be on television, and have the chance to see a world-famous singer perform for free on a gorgeous beach? I would think it was a dream, if there was no video evidence of it happening!
After that unexpected experience was the main event of the day: Parte Gros pintxo tasting tour! Like the previous day’s group, the plan was for the first taste to be the original pintxo, La Gilda. To our surprise, the first bar we went to was completely sold out of the dish! Instead, we moved onto the next location.
At the next bar, the 10 of us, eight students and two professors, shared three slices of Spanish tortilla and a bottle of txakoli.
Tortilla is a tasty traditional dish comprised of eggs, potatoes, and onion. It tells the story of an inventive people that did the best with what they had in sparse conditions. Txakoli is a white wine specific to this region, I tried it but although I’m not picky with food, I’m not a fan of alcohol!
Over the course of the rest of the afternoon, we made our way to five more pintxo bars and discovered many a diamond on a plate. Absolutely everything we tried was a delight and everyone in the Parte Gros group tried at least a bite of everything. The third and fourth bars were the absolute stand outs of the afternoon.
At the third bar Professor Zabalbeascoa ordered five spectacular dishes:
a piece of foie gras sandwiched between cooked mushroom caps and slathered in an aoli, squid with a garnish made out of its ink, oxtail, a dish similar to a mushroom risotto topped with foie gras, and a tender slice of beef cheek.
The most exciting dish, many of us ordered a the fourth bar. It was described to us as a “blood pudding volcano” and I was intrigued by the name and was not entirely sure what to expect. A small pile of of blood pudding made up the “volcano” and a raw egg yolk, the lava.
Everyone was surprised to find something made of blood as delicious as we did! I think the surprise attached to it is was makes it so memorable.
After we stumbled around town with full stomachs for a few hours, the evening ended on a high note with the Gloria Gaynor concert on the beach. It was crowded, but my small group of friends was far enough back that we had enough room to dance wildly when she finally closed the show with “I Will Survive,” the song which we also started our afternoon and evening of adventures with.