Spain Day 8 - Cider House RULZ!
Trip Start Jun 25, 2008
77Trip End Sep 01, 2008
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I cannot say enough about our wonderful hosts. I just can't imagine how different our experience would have been if we would have stayed here in a hotel. First off, having a 'round the clock host for three days straight is invaluable. Even if you were to pay for a tour of the city, you just can't compare the wonderful intimate perspective you gain when you live with locals. Second, the location of their apartment is amazing. A hotel near their home must run 250 Euros + per night. And third, even if you had a paid host and paid big bucks for a hotel, you'd never have somebody serve you homecooked food, play with your children, advise you on which bar has the best Pinchos. ... Inigo and Jaione have really made this trip to San Sebastian a special experience for us
Today, we wake up and enjoy a second breakfast with Inigo and Jaione. She serves me some excellent green tea with a mint leaf in it, with some brown sugar. Warms me right up and a great start to the day. Its still raining off and on, but that isn't going to ruin our plans. Just like you would still stroll through the streets of San Francisco if there was a light rain, ... so we ventured through San Sebastian. Today, we hop on a bus that takes us to a neighborhood twenty minutes outside of the city. Its the home of Jaione's parents, the school she teaches at, and our destination ... a Basque Cider House. After the bus ride,we walk uphill for another twenty minutes or so.
We arrive to the cider house and inside find room enough for four hundred people or more. Its HUGE. Each of the wooden tables seats twelve. Think of a brewery mixed with an old school pizza parlor with sawdust on the ground (except there is no sawdust here) ... add fabulous Basque cuisine, and you have a fairly good idea of the vibewww.petritegi.com
Some notable memories... the cider is served from huge barrels similar to what I've seen in wineries in the Napa Valley. The difference here is that in order to drink the cider (unlimited drinks with the meal) the barrel itself is tapped with a spigot. When you are ready for a drink, you shout, "Txontx!" (tx is pronounced 'ch' in Basque) and somebody opens the spigot shooting the cider out. From five feet away you scoop up the drink in your cup, creating two or three inches of frothy goodness , ... finishing by swinging the cup closer to the barrel with gusto ... at which point the next person in line takes over as quickly as possible, trying not to waste a drop of cider in the transition. Good fun. I helped each of the hijos have a turn and then we all posed for a family photo at which point I made a classic guiris mistake. (*Guiris = my latest favorite Spanish word. Its what the local call tourists and I love how it just rolls off the tongue. An easy laugh is always had when I, the prototypical American, look at scorn at other tourists and say something vulgar using the native slang.)... So anyhow, we are all posed for a family photo next to the twenty foot barrels of cider and I yell, "Ok everybody, say SPAIN!". A look of shock and embarrassment as they quickly hush me and tell me that perhaps I shouldn't say that here. After all, we are in the heart of Basque country, where violent Baque nationalist groups are known to hold demonstrations against the Spanish government (most people in the Basque country wish that they had their own nationhood)
First course was some excellent, cider boiled chorizzo. Fantastic! Then, an omelette with fish. And then a gorgeous slab of meat. Our dessert was natural walnuts with cheese and a honey jelly sort of thing (we looked up a translation and it came up as quince jelly, which neither of us had heard of). Inigo had fun giving us instructions on how to open the walnuts without the nut cracking tool. After a bit of pain because the nuts weren't quite ripe, we finally had success! A great, healthy tasting dessert. With all the food and cider in our bellies, we were quite full and ready to go.
We headed back home and after a quick stop at a local park for the kids to run around and play, we spent the rest of the evening playing games (Inigo busted out a dusty Super Nintendo and made a new best friend in Samuel by playing some Donkey Kong game with him for an hour or so) and talking about everything under the sun from European views on marriage and homosexuality to dining and sleeping habits to topless sunbathing. Apparently Spain's largest problems are the ETA (Basque terrorist organization for independence), unemployment, and violent Machismos
We wrapped up the evening with another nice walk ... back to the Pinchos bar we went to the first night. More fabulous food for a very fair price. Tonight we encountered our first annoying tourists (two drunk Ausie girls). The closer we've gotten to San Fermin, the more tourists we've seen.
We are very sad its our last night here in San Sebastian. We are going to miss Inigo and Jaione. Hopefully we will see them again sometime soon.