Tapas vs Pinxtos: cheap food battle

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In my introduction to my website, I wrote that I want to focus my blog on food and sometimes travel. I have yet to talk too much about traveling, so I figured I would ease my way into it. I am traveling to Jamaica in two weeks with The Russian and I will most definitely be writing about that as well, so there is more talk to travel coming up to look forward to!

For now, however, I would like to talk about cheap food in Spain, which is everywhere and delicious (thank god).

Thats a pint of beer and a huge portion of stewed cod and tomatoes for three euro. Awesome.

Thats a pint of beer and a huge portion of stewed cod and tomatoes for three euro. Awesome.

My travels in Spain began in Bilbao, San Sebastian and Pamplona in Northern Spain. Aside from being gorgeous,

I lived about ten minutes walk from this. Total heaven.

I lived about ten minutes walk from this. Total heaven.

San Sebastian is a small beach town whose restaurants have more Michelin stars than Paris.  Just Sayin’.

Foie Gras, Spanish style. Eat your heart out, France

Foie Gras, Spanish style. Eat your heart out, France

Then I went to Pamplona for the running of the bulls. Whoa.

Not sure how we got this pig head, but a liter of wine had something to do with it

Not sure how my friend and I got this pig head, but a liter of wine had something to do with it

In northern Spain, they do this lovely thing around 7 p.m. where locals and tourists bar hop in hot food spots in the area.  Each bar serves Pinxtos, these awesome bits of food served on a crostini or in very small portions in a bowl.  They cost about a euro or so each, so about $1.50 US dollars.

Serrano Ham and Shrimp pulled out of the ocean that morning

Serrano Ham and Shrimp pulled out of the ocean that morning

You can’t get food this delicious this cheap anywhere else.  I ran around to every bar I could find, trying everything I could get my hands on.  Here are some highlights:

Pig's Ear. Crunchy and delicious

Pig’s Ear. Crunchy and delicious

Gazpacho topped with hard–boiled egg, serrano ham, and basil oil. $1.50.

Gazpacho topped with hard–boiled egg, serrano ham, and basil oil. $1.50.

A typical setup at a bar in Northern Spain.  You grab a plate, fill it up, and the bartender tells you how much you owe. Simple.

A typical setup at a bar in Northern Spain. You grab a plate, fill it up, and the bartender tells you how much you owe. Simple.

Then there was Barcelona.  The Russian and I had delicious tapas every night.  Tapas are small dishes of delicious food.  You order a whole mess of plates, then share amongst the table.  They are similar to Pinxtos in northern Spain, just a bit larger and a bit more expensive, about $5 a plate.

Fried Anchovies

Fried Anchovies

Thinly sliced fried potatoes topped with an egg and serrano ham

Thinly sliced fried potatoes topped with an egg and serrano ham

Sauteed mushrooms

Sauteed mushrooms

Don't forget some sangria to wash it all down

Don’t forget some sangria to wash it all down

The banner running across the top of my blog is a photo of some tomatoes and cheese skewers topped with chives, pine nuts and Spanish olive oil that I had in Barcelona, an ode to my love of Spanish cuisine.

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I was so inspired by the food in Spain I bought a cookbook in both northern Spain and Barcelona, because I wanted to bring the flavors of each region home with me.  I also bought some saffron for about $7 for a nice sized container, something that usually costs around $30 here at home (I am ALWAYS looking for a steal).saffron

So maybe I’m just feeling a bit nostalgic on this rainy day here as well, because Spain was an experience I won’t soon forget.  I strongly encourage anyone who is planning on traveling to Spain to go, because once you arrive, the food is wonderful without breaking the bank.  The most expensive part is getting there.

-L

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