Sunday, May 31, 2009

dining in basque country.

Mario Batali wrote a book with Gwyneth Paltrow on dining in Spain, approprtiately tiltled, Spain, A Culinary Road Trip. In the Basque country he mentions two cities, Vitoria, the capital, and SanSebastian, a seaport on the north coast.
SanSebastian is the first city a traveller comes to, driving from France. It is just 20 km from the French border. Mario and Gwyneth mark it as the best eating city in the Basque Country. And Mario recommends Juan Mari Arzak and his self-named restaurant as the best place to eat.
Going tapeo is how to eat in Spain. In Basque Country, it is called pintxo. There are an infinite variety of pintxos, as many as a creative chef can think up. Banderilla is just one, consisting of pickled pepper, anchovy, and olive skewered on a toothpick. Also, try the peppers from Guernica, Pimentos de Gernika.

Vitoria is inland, 40 km south of Bilbao.

A guide to the city can be found at The Catedral de Santa Maria is one of themany sites to see. As for restaurants, Mario recommends Asador Sagartoki. This is a pintxo bar where traditional Basque dishes are presented as haute-cuisine.

Near Vitiora, is the village of Idiazabal. The village is known for its nutty-tasting cheese made from the milk of Latxa sheep.

Speaking the local language always helps to make friends. To say thank you in Basque: Eskerrik asko. For more phrases, try out this helpful site.

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