Thursday, September 2, 2010

Eating Experiences in Euskadi

Now that I've settled into the teaching routine, it's time to get back to sharing about our time in Basque Country.
Today it will be about the food, a highlight of our experience. As a starter I've gathered all my photos to do with eating.
The very first meal the day of our arrival, was already featured here in this post, prepared for us in the apartment where we were to stay. I tried to replicate the first entree last week and posted a photo on Project 365. Many commented that it looked good and wanted the recipe. As I look at it again, I realize that I forgot to include olives.
The second course was the tenderest beef you have e.v.e.r tasted. Alberto said it was from the cheek of the cow and he had simmered it for some three hours. Perhaps he will be kind enough to give me more details, if he doesn't mind sharing his culinary secrets. Mike still talks about the best meal--cow cheek!
The next day the dinner was at Gonzalo and Elena's place, as previously mentioned in this post--a salad followed by tortilla de patatas, basically a potato omelet, always accompanied by fresh bread and wine.
I've made this before, but never as perfect as Gonzalo's.

 Remember in these households, the men are the chief cooks and the women serve and clean-up.

Tortilla de patatas is a very common sandwich and picnic item. This along with cheese and water was our lunch the day of the big cycling event, that is, for those of us who were waiting and watching for the riders.

We did, in fact, have a little tail-gate picnic. The other Elena in the circle of friends had brought the food.

We were so cold standing outside in the damp air that we went into the café and had a warm drink.

Elena e Iñaki
On sight-seeing days, by two o'clock we'd be looking for a café for a bite to eat. We could choose from a variety of sandwiches spread out on the counter--pintxos, all for the same price. A pintxo and a coke and we were ready to go.

This type of lunch is eaten standing up at the bar. If you take a seat at one of the tables, it means you will order from the menú del día, a fixed price and you choose first and second courses and dessert from a selection of four or five items in each category.

The day we visited the Summer in the USA office, we shared a restaurant meal of this kind with our hosts and the couple that oversees the program, the Shadowens.

Looks like we're having dessert at this point. Mike and I chose creme brullee.

Two other home-cooked meals that I have photos for: 1) pasta with a choice of sauce; 2) first course mussels and sauce, followed by steak. Ohhhhhhhh, soooooooo delicious all!

The steak was cut up into bite-size pieces, and usually there were two meat platters: one rare, and another medium cooked. The pan has roasted peppers, often served with the meat.

I was asked recently which was my favorite food. That would be hard to answer. Everything was so very flavorfull and tastefully presented. However, there is so much more to a meal than eating, it is an event among friends.The food is only the centerpiece of a time enjoyed together. All that sharing during and after dinner is called sobremesa. 

If I had to choose a favorite dinner event, it would be the one with all the friends, the kuadrilla. I'm not sure about the spelling and the concept of a group of friends that meets regularly and stays together for a lifetime is not familiar to us either. They warmly welcomed us into their midst. We felt so honored.


The meal was held at the Klink gastronomic society, the one their men belong to. Whenever they host group meals or events they use these locals. It used to be only men were allowed. Not too long ago the women began to be included, however they may not go into the kitchen areas. I sensed that was OK with them.

 Joseba did not do the strenuous bike ride that day, so he was in charge of the meal.

We were served lettuce and tomato salads. I can't remember everything. I know there was steak. And for dessert walnuts, cheese and dulce de membrillo, which reminded me of Argentina!

But the best part was experiencing the friendship. Can you believe that even after riding eight or nine hours, climbing three mountains, these guys were awake and having such a good time, that they stayed till three in the morning!
Here are more photos of the couples.

Jose Mari e Idoia
Koro y Joseba
Imanol y Edurne
Gonzalo y Elena
Edurne y Alberto

We miss you all!

1 comment:

Kim said...

I agree, while the food can be fantastic, the best part is the friends who share it!
But all the food photos did make me hungry :)