An Intercambio Lunch…

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Pintxo Bar Sardara…

We make an effort every Wednesday (a bit lax lately due to travels) to meet our Spanish mate Maria for lunch to have a mini, 1 on 1 (or 2) intercambio. An intercambio is when folks who speak different languages but are learning another (Spanish & English in this case) get together to practice. Our time together is usually split fairly evenly so that half the time we speak English, the other half we chat away in Español. We have been opting for places that offer the bargain deal of the menu del día but Maria suggested we go the pintxo & racíon route at Bar Sadara on Calle San Pedro. So off we toddled…

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Tuna, Tomate, Guindillas & Sprout Salad

The Hounds had sampled Bar Sadara’s pintxo offerings before on one of our regular weekend pintxiteos (pintxo crawl) and we knew they were top notch, so we had no hesitations here. First to arrive on our table was a fresh as tomato & tuna (the tuna is exceptionally good round these parts) salad sprinkled with the local delicacy – guindillas. Guindillas are pickled chillies that have a smidgeon of heat but really add a nice tartness or piquancy to the dish.

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Grilled Artichokes and Jamón

And as we are in or near the end of artichoke season, a racíon of grilled alcachofas & jamón was next to make an appearance. Hard to beat this combo folks – a crowd pleaser with a perfect mix of veg & meat, cooked to perfection with the artichokes crisp but tender & the jamón spicing it up with a bit of saltiness.

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Morros de Cerdo – Pig’s Nose…With Sprouts

On to the pintxo round – Maria and I opted for the Morros de Credo, which I only found out later (post eating) that I had had pig’s snout. Tasted great…ignorance is bliss.

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Puff Pastry de Marisco

Hound #2 went the seafood route with a puff pastry stuffed with a marisco assortment…vanished from the plate.

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Desserts – Apple Tart & a Delish Warm, Chocolate Ozzing Cakelet

One of the nice things about of eating this way (probably a health benefit too) is that your stomach has sufficient time to catch up with your eyes & mouth. The amount of food you actually have consumed almost never seems to be too much. Thus, there always seems to be room for dessert (pleases Hound #2 to no end), so Alex & Maria tucked in while I got to finish the wine (my kind of dessert)….

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Dessert Gurls…

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A Txoko Experience…

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Club Nautico Hondarribia – Our First (and maybe last) Txoko Experience.

We had heard or read about txokos and we had seen quite a few of these slightly mysterious Basque men’s gastronomic societies or eating clubs in our wanders around Hondarribia and San Sebastián. But they remained a wee bit of a mystery to us, as they appeared almost impossible to get into without some form of  invitation. We came so close in our first month or so here when, by sheer accident, we stumbled into a group of chatty txoko folks round the corner from our flat. Once we made it clear that: (a) we lived in Hondarribia proper, in the Casco Antiguo and (b) we really liked our food & wine, a convivial older hombre said a visit just might be arranged. But nada happened…

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Awesome Txoko Group

Until my wonderful Spanish teacher Gloria came through, once again, with a special Spanish opportunity. Gloria’s mate Andoni (and sweet partner Carmen) is a member of the Club Nautico Hondarribia which is not only a full on sailing club & school (with fishing too), but also a txoko, with a splendid port side club space with great views of the marina.

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First Course – Vegetarian Pizza

Txokos have been around in the Basque Country for more than 100 years and got their start as places where the fishermen & workers could bond & chat & tell stories over food & drink. They have been pretty much 100% male up until a few years ago when a few opened up their doors to women – only to eat though, as all the cooking is usually done by the men folks (Andoni’s txoko allows women in the kitchen).

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Gloria Fast @ Work on the Main Course…

Boy, it’s a lot of fun folks! Andoni’s txoko, like all txokos, has a top notch professional if not better kitchen which is shared amongst the members (you need to reserve a space). You bring all your required meal ingredients but the txoko also has a bar for beer, wine, cider & soft drinks (you can also bring in your own bebidas). It is a serious social affair – muchas familias were there that day, cooking & drinking up a storm & chattering away. The table just behind us was having a grand old time post draining half a dozen bottles of Moët bubbles, which is when the boisterous singing began…and we left.

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Dessert & Cava to Wash It Down With…

So a big muchas gracias to Andoni, Carmen, Gloria and Bernard for an estupendo time! So if you are ever in the Basque Country and somehow manage to wrangle a txoko invite – GO!