Since I was in Bilbao, for the Parabere Forum, I took some time to discover the food and wine of the region. A friend put me in contact with a friend in Bilbao, Stephanie from go-basquing.com, who showed me a bit around town. As we went around the city, we stopped at a bar, where she introduced me to this great pintxo: the gilda! Of all the tapas and pintxos that I ate over the time I spent in the region, it is my favorite, with a nice glass of wine!
Tapas and pintxos are both one or two-bite appetizers, however, the pintxo is served on a skewer or toothpick, as the word means sword or spear. The gilda is a skewer on which is stacked green olives, filets of anchovies, and guindilla, which is a pickled, long, slim, slightly hot green pepper. Like anything food-related, there can be slight variations. It is called this way because the different ingredients are stacked in such a way to give it the shape of Rita Hayward in the 1947 movie Gilda!
The mix of the salty, pickled and slight heat is a great accompaniment to a great, refreshing wine like the txakoli. That particular grape is indigenous to the Basque region and can rarely be found outside of the country, as it doesn’t travel well. It is lightly sparkling, white with a light pale green hue, though it can also be found in rosé or red, and is very refreshing. Being that it is hard to find, I indulged in this wine, almost every chance I got! In French, we would call this wine, “vin de soif”, as it has a level of complexity while remaining thirst-quenching and easy to drink.
We might not be able to drink txakoli, especially with the great weather we have now, but we can make and eat gildas! The ingredients are easily accessible, even the guindillas. Any specialty grocer or Spanish specialty shop will have them!