Our short visit to the Spanish part of the Basque Country provided many interesting gastronomic experiences, one of which was gorging on bite-sized regional delights on cocktail sticks, pintxos. The tradition is to collect the sticks and count them up at the end of each visit and the norm is to bar hop trying the house speciality of each place. However we are saving this practice until Logroño and in Bilbao we stuck with one bar, but that does not mean that we were not provided with a huge variety of yummy bites.
Our favourite was Bacalao al Pil Pil, a regionally renowned speciality of cod with a very Spanish sauce made up of garlic, chilli and olive oil. We also had Pimentón con Boletus which was red pepper with a creamy mushroom filling of a similar consistency to a croqueta. We were delighted that the Basques seem to be big fans of caramelised onions, putting it with tuna, courgette and just about everything, as it is a mutual favourite of ours! To satisfy my sweet tooth I ended with a creamy goats cheese pintxo with quince, cranberry sauce and walnuts… divine!
The rest of our time in Bilbao saw us wander round taking in the sites with the highlight being the iconic Guggenheim, and stopping for more pintxos of calamares, mushrooms and prawns. Oh to be Basque…
Recipe for cod al pil pil http://www.sabormediterraneo.com/recetas/bacalao_pil.htm