Basque cuisine enjoys a reputation for being one of the best in the world. This statement is corroborated by everyone who visits this region and eats at a bar, restaurant, steakhouse or cider farm - the food here is incredibly good!
Traditional cooking, based on the quality of its products and their simple preparation is the guideline of most Basque chefs. Due to it´s location, seafood plays a special part, although we should not forget the tasty meats and local products such as beans, cheese, cider and wines. All these products complete the extensive repertoire of this pure gastronomy.
Obviously, a special mention needs to be made to the wines from the Basque Rioja Alavesa region. Nestled among the extensive vineyards of Rioja Alavesa are medieval villas with traditional underground cellars which stand in perfect harmony alongside the avant-garde architecture of the wineries designed by famous architects of the stature of Gehry, Calatrava, Aspiazu or Maziéres. The perfect day out would consist of visiting a winery, enjoying a typical lunch there, enjoying a wine tasting session and discovering the exceptional countryside at the foot of the majestic Sierra antabria mountains.
In the seventies, after researching, innovating and extending the repertoire of traditional Basque cooking and after a first contact with French cuisine, a group of young chefs came up with the idea of the so-called New Basque Cuisine, and today some of the leading chefs in this movement are household names (Arzak, Zubijana, etc)
As a result of their experimentation and research, the group came up with new ingredients, new ways of preparing food, new aromas and combinations, creating an exquisite and creative cuisine.
Another of the curiosities of Basque cuisine are the "pintxos", small portions served in most bars and restaurants and which represent another opportunity to try Basque delicacies. The Old Quarter San Sebastian is a mecca for lovers of this Basque speciality. Few people can resist this mouthwatering miniature mouthfuls.
An insight to Basque gastronomy would not be complete without trying Txakoli, one of the region´s best known wines. It is a young, fruity, slightly sparkling white wine with low acidity made from grapes grown on the mountain sides under the gentle breeze of the Cantabrian Sea.
Speaking of the Basque gastronomy, it would be impossible not to mention the Popular Gastronomic Societies, which can be found all over the region. These (formerly purely) masculine kitchens represent a unique phenomenon and maintain the attachment to local culinary traditions very much alive. Without them, it would be difficult to explain the deep-rooted popularity of Basque cuisine. In these Societies, the members cook for their friends and relatives, making gastronomy the basis for their social relations.
The perfect accompaniment to Basque cuisine is the locally produced cider. It is one of the region´s oldest traditional drinks, a tradition that can be savoured in every sip, whether it´s from a bottle sipped in a glass clinked together in a friendly toast or whether it´s straight from the "txotx" or barrel. The cider restaurants are the places to go to have the full-on "txotx" experience and find out about the world of cider-making and cider drinking and the accompanying food featuring succulent steak and codfish tortilla.