A beautiful little region like no other, the Basque Country and its residents are indigenous to an area located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and include parts of north central Spain and southwestern France. Locally known as Euskadi gold Basque Country – has its own language, culinary traditions and a very distinctive cultural and geographical landscape.
If you are a serious foodie, you must visit the city of San Sebastián in particular, a unique and impressive coastal metropolis, widely regarded as one of the best places to eat in the world and recently awarded the coveted title of European Capital of Culture. And to demonstrate their passion for food, Basques spend more than twice their disposable income on food than Americans do and are home to nearly thirty Michelin-starred restaurants. Several were ranked in the Top Ten of the “World’s Best Restaurant” of 2018. Clearly, this region is where a serious foodie can dine in style or just stroll through bustling villages sampling tapas (small portions of food, called pintxos, many of which resemble the Italian version of bruschetta or Spanish tapas) and drinking cider (txakoli, a sparkling white wine that is usually served as an aperitif) in one of the many taverns that offer such cuisine.
Classic Basque food includes grilled meat and fish, marmitako (tuna) and lamb stews, cod, bean dishes from Tolosa, paprika, pintxos, Idiazabal sheep cheese, txakoli sparkling wine and Basque cider. Among your top favorite foods that you are likely to find served at those upscale restaurants and casual food stops include:
1) Cod to the Bizkaina (cod), which means that the fish is gently sautéed in olive oil and seasoned with a sauce of red chorizo, onion, garlic and tomato;
two) Chop (rib steak) – seared to perfection;
3) Bean navy beans – simmered until tender but still perfectly intact, and served with the usual sides of cooked cabbage, blood sausage (blood sausage), paper thin slices of lard and pickled piparras (a local fine green pepper);
4) Hake in Green Sauce with Clams – hake (cod) in parsley sauce with clams;
5) Txisto-burger – especially popular in the city of Pamploma, a lightly cured pork sausage often served at Basque fiestas rolled up in a warm, thick corn tortilla, to be eaten like a hot dog in a bun. Instead, transforming it into a mini-burger, Rodero grinds three different cuts of Iberian pork, the best white meat on the peninsula, mixed with the typical seasonings of the garlic and smoked paprika txistorra (not your basic Quarter Pounder, no doubt);
6) Gerezi beltza arno gorriakin It is a cherry soup that is served hot or cold, the cherries are poached in wine;
Although cod (Bacalao) reigns, squid and crab meat are very popular, along with Tripotx (lamb blood sausage), eel, Idiazabal cheese (made with unpasteurized sheep’s milk), artichokes, asparagus and peppers, with plenty of olive oil.
Cider is the preferred drink and is enjoyed in cider houses (sagardotegiak) in the hills of Donostia, especially near Astigarraga. All of these great country restaurants feature huge barrels of cider alongside an invariably rustic menu of salted cod in various forms, grilled ribeye, and pecan cheese with walnuts and quince (make it up?). Cider houses are only open a few months a year. Pain.
Basque food and new French food are slowly beginning to merge as younger chefs move away from the more rustic and heavier dishes of traditional Basque cuisine, intertwining the best of both worlds. So for the serious gourmand (is there any other guy?), You might want to be thinking about a dream vacation in the Basque Country, enjoying all that picturesque scenery and, most of all, those glorious restaurants. Good trip.