A new bar opening and a third birthday party for Pintura prove irresistible to Stan Graham.
I had been putting off defrosting my freezer for some time but it was fast becoming a necessity so I removed the food, turned it off and went to get the bad boy of a steamer I use to accelerate the process. After an hour or so battling against more ice than saw off the Titanic, I returned everything to its rightful place and switched the appliance back on, pleased with my work and the discovery of a rogue choc ice which I had found lurking in its depths.
I thought that I would have a coffee and check my emails, which I did, to discover another piece of karma in the form of a request from Leeds Living to attend the opening party of Pintura’s new Pintxos Bar. After a great deal of deliberation, about two seconds, I accepted and replied accordingly.
The Pintxos Bar opening coincides with Pintura’s third birthday, so it was a double celebration. Perhaps a little explanation is required for those not fluent in the Basque (or Vasque as a couple of Spanish ladies with whom I am acquainted insist it should be spelt) language. Pintxos are small snacks served with drinks in Basque Region bars. We are all familiar with the term Tapas, which is how small dishes are known in most of Spain, but in some parts they are called Pinchos which comes from the word meaning ‘pierced’ as they originally used a cocktail stick to keep the topping attached to the bread on which it was served. Pintxos is the term the Basques use for this. Over the years cocktail sticks have become redundant as the snacks have become more elaborate, although three out of the four on offer at the party still utilised them, with only the tortilla escaping impalement. The range of Pintxos will vary as Executive Chef, Greg Lewis, wants to use seasonal ingredients to give the dishes a British twist. The ones on offer at the launch were Bayonne ham on bread, a skewer of Ensalada Nissici (Nicoise Salad), Gilda, along with the aforementioned Wild Mushroom Tortilla. Needless to say, all were absolutely delicious.
Along with the food menu there is also a new cocktail range, and what Head Drinks Creator Matt Coates calls ‘Gin and Tonic Plus’. These are large G&Ts whose flavours are enhanced by adding herbs, jams, garnishes etc to take them down the cocktail route. Again these will be made from seasonal ingredients so will change throughout the year. I sampled two on offer, purely for research purposes, both of which were on the drier end of the spectrum, the Herbaceous and the Aromatic, which were delicious and a great accompaniment for the food.
Once again the team behind Pintura have created a unique experience for the people of Leeds and it is a tribute to their skill, research and passion. They are also really nice chaps. If this is the reward I get for defrosting the freezer I have plans to get cracking on the rest of my ‘to do’ list and see what happens. In the meantime, the choc ice is about to meet its end.
Pinxtos Bar in the basement at Pintura is open from 5.00pm Thursday to Saturday.
Photographs by Stan Graham.