Never call pintxos tapas, so they say. Pintxos are small snacks customarily found in the Basque region of Spain. They originally come as meats, fish, vegetables, or whatever tasty concoction which are pierced or skewered with a cocktail stick onto a piece of bread … although this is not done much anymore.
So what’s the difference between pintxo and tapa? According to Cyra (a food writer whose blog is http://www.roadlessforked.com/what-are-pintxos/), “a tapa is a small serve of a particular dish, such as meatballs or fried eggplant which can also be prepared in bigger sizes – a half or full ración – and shared. A pintxo is a small snack made of a combination of ingredients for just one person. It would be physically impossible for a traditional pintxo to be prepared as a bigger serving, as is possible with tapas. … The word pintxo has come from the Spanish verb pinchar – to pierce (the tx and ch have the same sound).”
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, you would naturally want to know… where does one get the best pintxos? Why, at Bar Pintxos, of course!
Bar Pintxos Tapas y Mas is “a neighbourhood pintxos and tapas bar serving authentic Spanish food,” as its owners Miguel Vecin and Tinchu Gonzalez simply describe their restaurant. Located in the southern suburbs at the Alabang Hills, it’s definitely a favorite neighborhood hang-out. Everyone seems to know each other. And if you don’t know anyone, I think perhaps by the end of the evening, you will. The ambience is modern and simple yet very warm and friendly — a perfect setting for the fabulous pintxos created here.
The imaginative combinations with which they put together their pintxos, using the delicious charcuterie which they import and some which the owners themselves produce, are amazing! Some of my favorites are the pintxos with Brie and caramelized onions and crisped jamon … or the salmon pintxo with goat cheese, truffle honey, and a bit of caviar … or something simple like the sobrasada pintxo with honey and pine nuts …or the various boquerones preparations, whether as a platter in olive oil and topped with toasted garlic or a pintxo topped with uni and caviar. Everything tastes like a Barcelona dream!
It’s not all pintxos, though. There are all kinds of tapas and charcuterie platters, too. Paella is also offered — be sure to inform the staff that you want this before the hungry hordes arrive, as they only cook a limited amount. Same thing with the beef cheeks!
All enjoyed with a generous glass of Sangría or a bottle of ice-cold locally crafted beers, you’ll be nodding in agreement with that Galician saying “El vientre goberna la mente!” — The belly rules the mind.
Bar Pintxos is located at the Don Gesu Building along Don Jesus Blvd, behind the Total Station on the West Service Road leading to Alabang Hills Village. If you can’t get there early, best to make reservations. Call 831 0065 or message them on their facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Barpintxos/). There is ample parking at the back of the building.