When I visited San Sebastian in the Basque country a few years ago I was most pleased to find that a popular local activity is to go on a pinxtos crawl. Pinxtos are the Basque version of tapas and are served in most bars. Usually it's a piece of bread with some delicious little morsel on top with a toothpick jammed in the middle. The little spear isn't just for holding the food on top though. As you eat the pinxtos you keep the toothpicks and then hand them to the bartender at the end of your feasting, paying for as many pieces as you ate. This means you can just stand around helping yourself and if you're inclined to a bit of thievery you might snap a couple and discreetly drop them on the floor. This of course is terrible Kulinary Karma and will earn you nothing other than a bad sardine and wicked case of food poisoning to teach you a lesson (well that's what I think would happen anyway).
So, why am I telling you all this? Because a pinxtos bar has opened on Brunswick Street. It's got a bit of a saucy name - Naked for Satan - and lots of infused vodkas. I headed there with some friends on Cup Day and we stuffed ourselves silly and drank a fair bit of the bars own ale.
The principle at NFS is the same as the real deal; you help yourself to the cold pinxtos from the front bar and the hot ones are brought around by the waiters. There's little cups on the tables for your toothpicks so you just hand them over at the end and it's job done.
We sampled a LOT of different kinds: prawns on roasted red peppers, meatballs, chorizo croquettes, potatoes with Taleggio and aioli, rice balls with quince paste and cream cheese, eggplant chips on blue cheese, veal schnitzels, tortillas and on and on we went. It was pinxtos madness and Mr Tea had to roll me with a stick down to Labour in Vain afterwards!
The bread gets a bit much after while so we found ourselves just eating the toppings in order to be able to continue our piggery. I also found it odd that when the waiter asked if we'd visited before and we said no, she didn't bother explaining how it all works, she just assumed we knew which might be unhelpful for the uninitiated.
All in all though this is a cracker little bar, perfect for long drinking sessions fuelled by the ability to eat when you feel like it. In the evenings the pinxtos are all $2 each but at the moment there is a lunch special on weekdays from 12-4pm and they are just 50 cents per piece! Obviously at these prices there's no reason to hide your toothpicks - you'll be stuffed for under $4.