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Art became a pincho

The pinchos of Navarre are synonymous with tradition, quality and a good atmosphere and represent the peak of miniature haute cuisine, not only for their gastronomical value - based on the excellent raw ingredients used to prepare them - but also for their painstaking and innovative presentation.

WE'RE GOING OUT FOR PINCHOS!

One of the best things to do in Pamplona is to go out for pinchos, a much-loved custom that underpins the city’s lively street atmosphere. In the emblematic plaza del Castillo and around calles Estafeta, San Nicolás and adjacent streets the people of Pamplona go on a 'pincho crawl’ with their friends or family before having lunch or dinner, taking it in turns to buy a round of pinchos which are enjoyed with a good wine. It’s an excuse to wander, chat and meet up with friends and is known popularly as ‘going for drinks’, ‘going for pinchos’ or txikiteo. When are pinchos served? From 11am and from 6pm.

This practice has evolved over time since the simple and tasty skewered appetisers which were eaten along with a glass of wine and which can still be sampled today. They include classics such as fried peppers and prawns and ham and pepper sandwiches, as well as sophisticated modern creations. The latter combine flavours, textures, colours and temperatures, and are presented with fascinating names such as knuckle with Iberian marinade, truffle scent and mango chutney, or intriguing appellatives Street Food, Derrape or USB marino. Each establishment usually has its own speciality, but they often renew what’s on offer and adapt to seasonal produce

Something else which is characteristic of Navarre - part of the region's commitment to protect the cleanliness, quality and taste of the raw ingredients - is that the pinchos are displayed on the bartop beneath a glass cabinet or even freshly prepared to order, and in many cases are imbued with a painstaking aesthetic which adorns the pincho itself as well as the dish it’s served on.


RECOGNISING INNOVATION

To recognise and encourage this culinary art form the annual Navarre Pincho Week is held in April. Now with 18 events behind it, this fixture has become an unmissable date in both regional and national calendars. Participating establishments use top-quality produce in their creations which mainly derive from the region, such as Roncal or Idiazábal cheeses, vegetables from the fertile Navarran soil, truffles, mushrooms, foie gras, fish and local meats.

Autumn brings another event - the Cazuelica and Wine week. For a fixed price the public can sample delicious mini stew appetisers served in earthenware pots which are reinterpretations of more traditional Navarran dishes such as ajoarriero (cod stew with red peppers), lamb or suckling pig, accompanied by wines with Navarre Designation of Origin.

Both events mainly centre around food creations from establishments in Pamplona, but each sees the involvement of other venues across the Navarre region which stand up for bartop pinchos.

A relatively recent phenomenon in some bars around the Old Quarter (which has livened up Pamplona’s Thursday nights) is Juevintxo, whereby for a modest price you can enjoy a basic pincho along with a quality wine, beer or soft drink of your choice.