Thursday, October 4, 2012

Flashback Thursdays: Weddings and Pintxos Bars in St. Sebastián.

   Back in early June, we headed off for a mini-break in the Basque country with our next-door neighbours and good friends, Bea and David. Saying au revoir to Léran in the morning, we drove north to the péage, sped across the narrowest part of France and arrived in St. Sebastián on the Atlantic coast of Spain late afternoon. Our pénsion was in the old quarter and, even early on a Friday night, the joint was jumping, bars open--and opening for what would be a long night.
    We were in Spain and 7 p.m. was ridiculously early to eat. Instead, we ambled around the narrow streets, emerging on to the seafront.

     Serious surfing goes on here. Wandering back to the large plaza outside the town hall, we were met by an odd mix of surfers in shiny black wetsuits and fashionably-dressed couples. Friday night is obviously wedding night in St. Sebastián. Family, friends and traditional dancers welcomed the just-weds as they exited the town hall. New sets of brides and bridesmaids sat in cars, waiting for their turn. Vivid colours, bare brown shoulders, the women guests were gorgeously dressed on this warm summer night, though how some managed to negotiate the cobblestones in their sky-high heels is beyond me. I also don't know why I didn't take photos...
    Here's the town hall the morning after. Not quite the same. Try to imagine this area buzzing with happy people.

   We hung around long enough to watch the sun go down, then drifted back into the town for a pintxos crawl. Pronounced "pinch-oss", these are the Basque version of tapas. 
   Open doors revealed bars heaped with platters and plates of different kinds. You simply pick up a plate and help yourself. One cookery book I saw listed over 500 variations.

 Shavings of salty ham on a slice of pungent goat cheese with a little salad and sweet red pepper underneath.
 Smoked salmon topped with very finely chopped onion. I imagine that graphic swizzle is reduced balsamic. It usually is.
 Fresh anchovies with lemon and tomato. And remember these are just three from a vast selection and from one of many, many pintxos bars.
  We hit four in total, with a big glass of gutsy Rioja wine at each and, then, close to midnight, went and had dinner. Or so they tell me.

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