Winter arrives and the cider house season arrives... The cider houses are large cellars where, as well as tasting different types of cider in each of the various kupelas, or barrels in Basque, the menu is always the same: chorizo in cider, fried cod omelette, steak and, for dessert, Idiazabal cheese with walnuts or quince jelly. Here are some recommendations.
The season takes place mainly in winter and you are in a wine cellar. Normally there is no heating, and you will have to move between two spaces, the dining room and the cellar, with significant temperature differences.
Without a plate
Bear in mind that you will be eating without a plate. The traditional cider house menu is enjoyed sharing a single platter, although in most cider houses a plate is already included.
With an empty glass
The cider is tasted and appreciated in the area of the barrels, in the cellar. You have to go there with an empty glass. Follow the cider maker to the cry of "txotx" and stand in line in front of the barrel. Taste the cider, share your sensations with your fellow cider drinkers and return to the table with an empty glass.
It is important that you learn how to hold the glass correctly, tilt it to the point where the cider breaks on one of its walls and the granillo (grainy cider) jumps out. Watch the ritual and, if you have any doubts, ask.
Think that the cider is being made inside the cask, as it is a living product. The cider you have tasted today from one cask will have other nuances in a fortnight's time. And each barrel contains cider with different flavours. And each cider maker...
You will find very few places where you can try the variety of a natural, handmade product, before you buy it
Taste from different barrels, cider with different nuances... There are very few places where you can try the variety of a natural, handcrafted product before you buy it.
You must follow the cider maker's instructions and the uses and customs of the cider house. Everyone has their own place and you should always go to the barrels that the cider maker is going to open or give you permission to taste.
The food and the cider. The place and the atmosphere. The people around you and the authentic situation. Unique.
Coffee in the village
Dessert puts an end to your stay in the cider house. You won't be able to have coffee, let alone a drink. But the experience is not over. It will be in the town centre, where you will enjoy the coffee and the first hours of a night to remember.
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