Moving Tapas Forward

To a Spaniard, tapas are not just a style of eating but a way of life. Stopping in a favorite bar for a tapa and a small glass of beer is a daily habit for many, a ritual that’s as much about socializing as it is about the food. Patrons stand at the bar, enjoy a small plate or two and some conversation, then move on to the next bar or head home for dinner. Every tapas bar has a specialty, so locals know where to go when they have a craving for meatballs in saffron-almond sauce, or the finest Manchego.

At Bar Bergara in San Sebastián, owner Patxi Bergara has made a specialty of pintxos (pronounced PEEN-chos), tapas served on a slice of bread or on a skewer. His award-winning pintxos are more refined and modern than most, but they have traditional roots. José Andrés, the Spanish chef and TV personality, calls Bergara “the king of pintxos.”

One popular Bar Bergara offering is a seafood cocktail on toast, featuring prawns, pineapple and a mayonnaise-based sauce.

During a demonstration at CIA Greystone, Bergara assembled some other favorites from his bar:

  • An anchovy “lasagne” made with pistou (“Spanish ratatouille” with squash, tomatoes and sweet peppers) on bread, with a marinated fresh anchovy garnish and a reduction of caramelized vinegar
  • Ajo arriero: a traditional salt cod and potato puree, with the novel addition of shrimp
  • The bar’s flagship pintxo: a tortilla (creamy omelet) with fresh anchovies, served on bread
  • A saute of fresh anchovies and roasted piquillo peppers with beaten eggs, mounded on toast
  • Bikote: a toast topped with green and red peppers, marinated anchovy, and a parsley-sherry vinaigrette

All these pintxos invite customers to have a glass of wine and relax for awhile. Who wouldn’t love to have a Bar Bergara in the neighborhood?

© 2019 The Culinary Institute of America