Pintxos: Small plates in the Basque tradition
by Gerald Hirigoyen, Lisa Weiss
Publisher: Ten Speed Press, Country: US
ISBN: 9781580089227, Year: 2009
Link to publisher’s page or site
This review is the personal opinion of the reviewer.

Review

Chef Gerald Hirigoyen and writer Lisa Weiss have produced an enjoyable, tasty book of Basque tapas — Pintxos — with some creative and Californian influences. Hirigoyen is the owner of San Francisco restaurants Piperade and Bocadillos. The writing is clear and Hirigoyen’s story of tapas and his own life is told in an interesting and relatively concise way.

The book contains ten recipe chapters, some for types of dishes or preparation (e.g., A La Plancha, Estofados, Fritos, Ensaladas, Sopas) and two for ingredients (Habas, Organos). Hirigoyen makes a point of including offal (organos), a group of meats that Americans have been reluctant to eat for many decades. The Pantry chapter describes a number of basic ingredients and some important recipes (aioli, piperade, veal stock, garlic chips, etc). Descriptions are clear and helpful — the summary of sherry types is one of the better I’ve seen.

Pintxos is aimed at a US audience, so the recipes are solely non-metric and the supplier list is only for the US. It is a little frustrating when good books are limited by an exclusive focus on the author’s domestic readership, but thankfully Hirigoyen isn’t gratingly local in his assumptions.

The recipe list includes delights such as Prawns with Garlic Chips and Preserved Lemons, Duck Breast with Oranges and Green Olives, White Bean and Salt Cod Stew with Marinated Guindilla Peppers, Beef Short Ribs in Moscatel, Roasted Beets with Moroccan Spices and Aged Sherry Vinegar, Bacalao Fresco with Oysters and Crème Fraîche, Basque Clam Chowder, Figs Marinated in Sherry with Aged Goat Cheese and Basil, and Crisped Pig’s Trotters with Egg and Fresh Herb Salad.

Approximately a quarter of the 75 recipes in Pintxos are vegetarian. Each recipe is introduced with a description and some tips or extra info. The instructions are mostly adequately detailed, showing thought for the reader. At the end of most recipes are wine-pairing suggestions.

Every time a cuisine becomes popular, booklovers see too many poorly done chefs’ books land on the shelves. Pintxos shows how a book can capture a chef’s style and cuisine traditions without feeling forced, pretentious or too much like a self-promotional device. Pintxos is an enjoyable book to cook, eat and entertain from.

This is an original review for The Gastronomer’s Bookshelf.
Main rating: 5 stars. Highly recommended
Visual appeal: Attractive
Suitability as a gift: Likely to be strongly appreciated
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One Comment

  1. Posted 04 Apr 2010 at 05:53 | Permalink

    Trained in France, and working in the U.S. he offers a lot of unconventional adaptations for these basque bites. Like just adding olives to duck l’orange, or adding black-eyed peas to calamari, but most of them are delectable. The only recipe I don’t recommend though, is the lychee gazpacho which you’ve put here. It’s pretty, but it’s just cloyingly sweet and the color comes out quite a bit different to what’s pictured. That said, the more traditional dishes are good too: I discuss many of them on my own site.

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