Friday, July 02, 2010

Rating Izarra, Sitges

One of my favourite foods is pintxos, the bite sized Basque tapas. I was introduced to it at Bilbao Berria in Barcelona, and I was thrilled to find that Sitges had at least two pintxos restaurants. Izarra is a -hole-in-the-wall bar and eatery in the old part of the city where you may take a cold beer and tuck into a few of these delicacies.

Location: BBBB+

Izarra is located in Calle Major, a narrow street in the pittoresque downtown area of Sitges. Easily accessible by foot a short walk away from the seafront area. Visitors will have to take a 15-20 minute walk from the railway station.

Having lunch here is a good idea during the hot Spanish summer, as the streets of the old part of the city provides much welcome shade to the beach guests.

Service: BBBB

Visiting Izarra involves no waiting time, except waiting in the line to be served. Here you just ask in Spanish (other languages poorly understood), or just point on what looks tempting.

Be prepared that what you choose may involve some surprises, as you always at least end up with something other than you expected - but it is always delicious.

You never have to wait long, and you can order more if you are still hungry.

Interior & Atmosphere: BBBB

Many of the hole-in-the-wall pintxo restaurants are just that, small, dark, and filled with tables and chairs. Izarra has bucket loads of charm, but is rather cramped and uncomfortable for guests - definitely not for those of you suffering from claustrophobia - or bad backs.

The chairs are small and may be uncomfortable to many of you, and you are very close to your fellow guests. Such interiors has its charm, as this is a place for locals and tourists alike.


At Izarra you can choose from a wide varieties of pintxos, Basque style tapas made with one piece of sliced bread with different toppings. You do not pay much per piece. I chose the following pintxos for my lunch

Pintxo with chorizo and croquetas

I love both spicy Spanish chorizos and their croquetas. The latter are made from thick bechamel sauce flavoured with cheese, cured ham or shrimps. When cool the stew is shaped into small dumplings, dipped in breadcrumbs, then fried in hot oil.

While the chorizos are rich and spicy, dripping in olive oil, garlic and pimentos, the croquetas are delicious - crisp on the outside and beautifully soft and creamy on the inside. At Izarra you get the best of both - served on a bun.

Pintxo with tortilla

Tortilla is the famous Spanish omelet, served at every good tapas restaurant. Sliced potatoes, onions are fried, eggs are added and fried until golden.

At Izarra you get one slice of tortilla, standing on end with a stick pushed through and fastened to a slice of baguette.

So easy and so good!

Fish and onion pie

The fish and onion pie is a tapa, more than a pintxo, as it is served without the characteristic thick slice of bread.

Delicious pastry with a delicious sweet and salty fish and onion filling.

Pintxo with manchego and bacon

I have tasted pintxos with manchego cheese with different tastes. Chili and orange marmalade, or honey and nuts are ideal tastes to this delicious matured cheese.

At Izarra I treated myself to a pintxo with a thick slice of cheese and with a slice of crispy bacon pinned to it. A delicious combination of textures and tastes.

Pintxo with egg salad

Many pintxos are served with one out of several mayonnaise based salads. Some are made with peas, eggs and ham, other with shrimp and mayonnaise.

This delicious heap of egg salad was piled on top of a baguette slice in such an abundance that it had started to fall off.

Delicious creamy consistency, with a mild rich taste of mayonnaise and hard boiled eggs. Comfort food.

Rating the Izarra experience: BBBB+ (4,28 points)

A small restaurant in downtown Sitges. Great for a quick and inexpensive lunch. Not much comfort to talk of but even more atmosphere and great food. One of two very good places in town to eat pintxos.

C/ Major 22
, 08870 Sitges, Spain
Phone: 938 947 370

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Welcome Air stops flights Göteborg-Stavanger from July 2010

(Source:, June 23rd 2010) Austrian Welcome Air has had flights from Göteborg Landvetter to Stavanger Airport, Sola since 2005. July 2nd it removes this service from its schedule.

The airline started in 2005 with five weekly flights between the two cities, and has gradually been reduced to two weekly flights.

Another reason for Welcome Air to leave Stavanger Airport is that City Airline will start five weekly flights to Göteborg in June 2010.

See all direct internatational flights from Stavanger Airport on this map

View International non-stop flights from Stavanger Airport Sola - status July 2010 in a larger map

(Photo: Magnus Manske)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cold gazpacho - ideal for a hot summer

Gazpacho comes from Andalusia in southern Spain and the recipe is said to have been brought here by the Arabs. Originally it was made without the tomato, consisting of stale bread, garlic, olive oil, salt and vinegar. The tomato was added in the 18th century.

My friend Frode’s gazpacho had been removed further away from the Andalusian roots, as more ingredients had been added.

I would say it was a mix between a Bloody Mary recipe (without the vodka) and a gazpacho. He made his cold tomato soup from tomatoes, bread, onions, garlic, lovage, olive oil, garlic, salt, and sweet chilli.

He made it on Thursday, and we had a large bowl of brightly red soup for Sunday lunch, just before we were to leave. Left in the refrigerator and the ingredients in a good gazpacho will infuse, making it even better after a few days. Frode just added more olive oil, and we were ready to eat it.

I found a package of grissini, Italian bread sticks with garlic, in my kitchen drawer, and from here you could just dip it into the soup. It was a cold and refreshing lunch for a hot summer day.

Photo: A bowl of tomato gazpacho by Alpha

Here is one way to make gazpacho!