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El País Vasco Cider Country

Bottled Basque cider in the El Pais Vasco Cider Country, Spain (cc)
Photo: Bichenzo
 

El País Vasco Cider Country

The El País Vasco Cider Country lies largely between the villages of Astigarraga and Hernani in the apple-orchard hills south of San Sebastián. El País Vasco has a long tradition of cider brewing and a unique way of enjoying it. Here, for a few months every spring, beginning with the earliest harvest in January, cider flows freely at the local taverns and cider houses which are known as sagardotegiaks in Spanish or sidererías in Basque. In these taverns, for a fixed price of around €15 to €20, diners are seated at long wooden tables and treated to a traditional cider-house meal that begins with a tortilla de bacalao (a Spanish omelet with cod), followed first by a juicy chuleton (T-bone steak) and then a dessert of walnuts, cheese and membrillo (an iridescent orange quince-like jelly). Along with the meal, you can drink as much cider as you can accommodate. Typically, the cider is poured in a long stream out of spigots from large wooden casks (kupelas) that ring the dining room. The stream, or txotx, is important to a proper cider pour, for it aerates the drink which is then imbibed in one big swallow. You’ll know you’ve had your money’s worth when the waiter shouts Mojón!, meaning it’s time to uncork a fresh cask.

There is a regular bus service between San Sebastián and both Astigarraga and Hernani. Also in San Sebastián you can obtain a listing of the sagardotegiaks or cider houses from one of the tourism shops, which is good to have. If you're driving, go south from San Sebastián through the hills on the GI-131 and look out for the signs which are seemingly everywhere once you reach Astigarraga.

© Indian Chief Travel Guides

Last updated May 9, 2012
Posted in   Spain  |  San Sebastián
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