As any visitor to San Sebastian will know, the Basques take their pintxos very seriously. This week, some of the finest examples of this miniature cuisine were on show at the eighth annual Euskal Herria pintxo championship, with local bars and restaurants battling to have their creation named the best in the region. The top prize of €3000 went to Bixente Muñoz and his brother Mikel from the Gran Sol Bar in Hondarribia for their smoked cod on toast with foie, piquillo pepper and soya and balsamic vinaigrette. Of his creation, the victorious chef claimed, “It’s multi-flavour, like a journey around the world.” This triumph is Bixente’s second, having also lifted the pintxo-shaped trophy in 2010.
Second prize was awarded to Ángela Baseke and Félix Manso, who took home €2000 for their truffle and egg creation named ‘The Enchanted Forest’. These chefs claim that the key to a successful pintxo is the ability to combine tradition with innovation. A glance at the shortlist seems to show that other competitors agree, with inventive bite-sized dishes ranging from smoked sardine tartare, to Thai beef cheeks, to the cryptically named “Airbag”.
This was also the first year that five lucky Kutxabank customers helped the panel of experts to reach their decision. But of course there’s no need to wait until next year to sample the best pintxos that the Basque country has to offer. The bars of San Sebastian and the surrounding towns are filled with these delicious morsels all year round.