Maria Luisa Duarte wrote:
Today some information regarding Gastronomy and food products from the Basque Country.
If anything characterises the Basque Country, it is its excellent cuisine and the quality of its restaurants, from the most sophisticated, to the most humble. Basque traditional cuisine, based on simple elaboration processes, bases its success on the quality of the raw materials (fish, meat, cheeses, etc.). On a parallel level, new trends are appearing in Basque nouvelle cuisine, which incorporate new ingredients, aromas, textures and combinations. All these dishes are always accompanied by Rioja wine, from the region of Alava, or with cider or "txakolí" (Basque white wine); all three wines that are typical of Euskadi.
Basque cuisine is considered amongst the best international cuisines. Either at the restaurants managed by the most prestigious chefs or at the most popular pubs, one can sample from the most sophisticated to the simplest, most traditional dishes. Eating in Euskadi is always a pleasure.
Cider houses and grill houses.
Cider houses are usually caserios - or country houses- mostly located in Gipuzkoa, which have facilities for the preparation and bottling of cider, and a space for the "kupelas" (barrels) and long tables where patrons can taste the specialities (cod omelette, fried cod with green peppers, and barbecued steak). The season begins in January and finishes mid-April. During these months, it has become a tradition for the Basque people to come to these cider temples to practice the "txotx" ritual, which is extremely beautiful and peculiar: the owner of the cider house chooses a kupela (barrel) and he yells out "txotx", thus inviting all those attending to taste the cider. Consumption of cider is unlimited.
Wine and txakoli wineries
Many wineries in Rioja Alavesa (an area covering nearly all of the left bank of the Ebro river, between the Conchas de Haro and Lanciego) provide guided tours and lunches for groups, usually by appointment. Alava's wines are amongst the most acclaimed wines in Spain, in particular for its table reds, either young or vintage wines, and even internationally. A typical menu at a winery includes potatoes and chorizo, and barbecued lamb chops.
Pintxos are real miniature culinary masterpieces. In numerous Basque towns there are certain areas with a concentration of taverns and bars which specialise in the preparation of these gastronomic jewels. Eating pintxos is usually accompanied by "poteo" or bar hopping, which consists of drinking wine, cider or zuritos (small glasses of beer) while standing in the company of friends and moving from one establishment to the next.
Beans have a long-standing tradition in the Basque Country. Beans have been grown in our country houses for more than 500 years. They are hig quality beans, of carefully selected varieties which have been classified by professional tasters. The three most characteristic types are: Tolosa's beans, Alava's kidney beans, and Gernika's beans.
Basque Beef- EUSKAL OKELA
Euskal Okela (Basque Meat) is beef which has been certified with the Eusko Label-Kalitatea (Basque Quality Label) symbol, which complies with all the origin, health and quality requirements as defined in the technical rules that regulate these standards. Euskal Okela is exclusively sold from authorised butcher's and is easily recognised for its Eusko Label-Kalitatea symbol.
The climate, the soil, and very traditional growing methods have contributed to Alava's potatoes being recognised by consumers as a very high quality product. Aftter sowing, growing and picking the potatoes, which is done guaranteeing the protection of the environment, a selection of the best potatoes is made to offer the consumer a healthy, homogeneous, quality product.
Basque Quality tomatoes
Produced in the Basque Country's country houses, this tomato retains the aroma, colour and flavour characteristic of traditional tomatoes. The Eusko Label tomato has a grooved shaped, streaky colour and it has been picked at its optimum reapening time, which gives it its intense, authentic flavour, very appreciated by the consumers.
Tuna from the North (white tuna) and Cimarron (red tuna.
The Bonito Tuna from the North and the Cimarron are high quality fish, caught one by one using traditional fishing methods, which guarantees the respect for the marine flora and fauna. At the fishing ports, the expert professionals select the fish, choosing and identifying the best pieces. This is done as the fish is being unloaded from the boats.
Chicken from Basque Country Houses
Free-range country house chickens have the flavour of the chickens fed in the old days, because their natural food is based on a 65% corn. The breed is of the Atlantic type and they grow slowly.
Chilli peppers from Ibarra
Its smooth skin, its tender flesh and it is hardly hot, its greenish yellow colour and its smooth flavour are the main features that make Ibarra Chilli unmistakable. It belongs to a native variety and it is produced and bottled mainly in Gipuzkoa's Ibarra area.
High quality honey
This natural honey is characterised by the purity of its pollen. As it is an uncooked honey, it does not undergo a pasteurisation process and it preserves all its biological and nutritional qualities.
Peppers from Gernika
This native variety is characterised for it short length, its narrow, elongated peduncle, and its intermediate green colour. Although until just a few years ago it was only known in Bizkaia, its excellent flavour and its refinement have captivated the most demanding palates and it has become an exponent of high cuisine around the country.
Alava Rioja wine
Alava's Rioja is a sub-name within the Rioja Appellation d'Origine, which produces wines with their own personality, due to their distinctive natural elements: the vineyards and the expertise of the wine growers and the owners of the wineries.
Eusko Label pasteurised milk.
Eusko Label pasteurised milk comes from the best dairy farms in the Basque Country, which produce milk which has quality levels above those required by the current European standards. This high-quality, uncooked milk, undergoes a thermal process called pasteurisation, which preserves practically all the nutritional and flavour qualities of the product.