23rd Birthday, à la Basque

23rd bday

On February 27th I turned 23, and it was such a memorable birthday made incredibly special by a number of really sweet gestures from colleagues, students, bosses, family, and above all, friends I’ve become so close to during this time abroad. I won’t recap every little thing that made this one of my favorite birthdays yet—believe it or not, blogs and journals still have slight distinctions, though barely—but I will share how eight of our closest friends came to celebrate: Introducing the First Annual Expat Pintxo Competition.

Since we’re in Basque Country, I thought it would be fun to have a sort of potluck that tied into our surroundings. So every guest was asked to create a pintxo (a Basque tapa, or small bite of food, usually skewered on a toothpick). They could be typically Basque (like tortilla de patatas) or original creations; sweet or savory; anything went, as long as it was edible and bite-sized. The results were more than impressive. After getting adequately tipsy on homemade sangría, everyone presented their works of culinary art. We all sampled (at least) one of each, and then voted on Most Creative and Most Delicious.

Katie—Strawberry shortcake stacks

Taylor—Cheese puffs, 3 ways: brie, apricot jam and walnuts; jalapeño, cream cheese and bacon; and brie, sun-dried tomatoes, jamon serrano and provincial herbs. (Tied for Most Delicious)

puff pastry pintxo

Matt—Tortilla à la Tinker (his last name), with aid from soux chef Eroski (Basque Country’s finest supermarket ;)

Milan—Tortilla “Inglesa”–i.e. tortilla de patatas with adorable British flags

Milan pintxos

Kaitlyn—Zucchini pizza boats

Valeria—Italian meatballs wrapped in eggplant parmesan

meatball pintxo

Chelsea—Chocolate cream-cheese cupcakes (tied for Most Delicious)

Me—“American Brunch”—pancakes, potato, fried quail egg and bacon (winner of Most Creative)

American brunch pintxo

Prizes went out to the two winners, but in reality, everyone did outstandingly (can you tell I am a teacher? ;) It was such a fun and memorable night spent with close friends, and the Expat Pintxo Competition should certainly be made into a lasting tradition among Basque Country auxiliars.

friends at birthday

Would you ever host a cooking competition? Which pintxo made you drool the most? Let me know, in the comments below!