Ok. T-minus 2 days until our Chinese New Year party! Did I tell you that we invited 40 people over to our apartment for Saturday? Have you seen our apartment?! I’m a little nervous that not everyone is going to be able to fit and that we won’t have enough food. The last time we had this many people over to our apartment was about 2 years ago for our infamous Pinxto Party! It wasn’t really infamous. But it was a whole lot of fun! We had maybe 30 people over that time and it was totally fine. What’s another 10 people?!
What’s a pinxto? Reuben and I first discovered pinxtos when we traveled through Spain a few years back. Pinxtos are a super popular bar snack in the Basque region where they originated. We also encountered a few spots in Barcelona and Madrid that had them too, so it seems like their popularity isn’t limited to their birthplace. Pintxos are typically composed of a slice of bread or carb topped with a whole bunch of tasty things and fastened together with a skewer. Tasty things include, but are not limited to: shrimp, croquettes, spanish tortilla, anchovies and other fish, vegetables, olives, and all the salty meats. At one bar I had a pinxto that had a mini pancake base, a slice of spanish tortilla, a tiny chorizo, and an olive and tomato speared right through the top. It was the breakfast pinxto I didn’t realize I was dreaming about! I loved them so much mainly due to the presentation. I love me some cutely composed snacks on sticks. You walk into a bar and the front counter is literally covered in hundreds of various pinxtos. Infinite combinations. It was just so much fun to explore all the different flavor combos. Plus, foods on a stick automatically taste better than if they aren’t on a stick.
When we got back home after a wonderful few weeks of jamon and pintxos we wanted to share our new found love with our closest SF friends. We invited all our friends over and requested that they only bring spanish beverages to share. We provided all the pinxtos. When I say WE, I really mean Reuben, because he literally made a million pinxtos that day. Plus a perfect spanish tortilla and homemade aioli. What was I doing? I messed up a batch of croquettes and made a few meat and cheese plates (haha). I’m speaking for Reuben here, but it is surprisingly easy to make enough pinxtos to feed 30 people! All our friends loved them and it was a wonderful Spanish night!
Spain will always have a sweet spot in my heart, because it was the first country Reuben and I traveled to together. So I was extra excited when Wines of Rioja wanted me to create a recipe to pair with their beautiful wines! I knew right away that I wanted to make a pinxto! Rioja is the most prestigious and historic wine region in Spain and we actually drove through the region while traveling from Bilbao to Barcelona. It was GORGEOUS.
The base of this pinxto is a mini grilled cheese filled with manchego, mahon, sliced apples and honey. It’s topped with a delicate slice of serrano ham and a piece of fire roasted bell pepper and all held together with a cute and colorful skewer! It is so good when you get a bite of everything all together. It’s rich from the olive oil, salty from the ham and cheese, sweet from the honey, and crisp from the apple. You see the sweet and salty action going on? They pair perfectly with the 2012 Bozeto de Exopto, a deep red wine with subtle floral touches and notes of red fruit. The balanced acidity and minerality of the wine is rounded out by the richness and creaminess from the cheese. The sweetness from the honey really emphasizes the flavors of cranberry and strawberry in each sip. Ah, so good! Take me back to Spain! In the meantime, I’ll just keep picking up my favorite Spanish wines!
Apple and Honey Grilled Cheese Pinxtos
Makes 6 pinxtos - can be scaled infinitely
12 - slices of baguette or small round loaf of bread
6 slices of manchego cheese
6 slices of Mahón cheese - muenster cheese also works
12 thin slices of apple
3 thin slices of Serrano Ham - divided into 6 pieces
6 strips of fire roasted bell peppers or piquillo peppers
Olive oil for cooking
Heat 2 tsp of olive oil in a pan (with a fitted lid) over medium heat. Swirl the pan so that the oil evenly coats the pan. Place bread in the pan and toast until golden brown. Flip over. Cover half the bread with sliced manchego and the other bread halves with Mahón cheese. Cover with a lid and allow the bread to toast and cheese to melt.
Remove bread from pan and place on a clean work surface. Place 2 thin apple slices in each mini grilled cheese and drizzle with honey before closing up the grilled cheese.
Skewer the red bell pepper, then the serrano ham, and stick into the mini grilled cheese.
Enjoy warm and with a glass of wine!
Thank you, Rioja Wines for sponsoring this post!