Aizepe is a typical gastronomic club in the Old Part of San Sebastian. It is located between the old port and Mount Urgull. The building was originally contructed around the XVIII century and was first used as a salt deposit for the Dutch merchants given its proximity to the port. During the napolenonic wars it was one of the few buildings to survive the raging fires that consumed the Old Part. These fires were set by the English-Portuguese troops who fought for months against the french invaders.

Today, it is a place for friends and family to get together to prepare the rich local products fruit of this land. The ritual is always the same, go to the local farmers market to buy fresh products, prepare them inside the gastronomic society with friends and finally sit down to enjoy the wonderful dishes prepared in a table that can seat as many or as few as desired.

One of our great chefs, although still in training, is Telmo Ezcurra. He is always willing to prepare something for the rest and makes sure that we have everything. In the Basque Country we believe that the first virtud of a good chef should be this, the desire to please the palate. There is no greater satisfaction for a chef that to see others enjoying that which he has prepared.

Another important chef in our small Aizepe family is Alain Alonso, blogger in Pintxo a Pintxo.   A great chef, also Basque and Donostiarra, a bit less conservative and more innovative in his dishes. He always manages to surprise us with something new hidden in traditional ingredients.

In addition to these noteworthy chefs that one can find in the kitchen at Aizepe, there is another group of people, of friends and family who also contribute an invaluable ingredient to the success of a dinner. It could be someone who brings the freshest ingredients, or who acts as somelier, setting the table, preparing coffee or even small bits of advice given in the kitchen. All together everything insures that things go perfectly.

This little article has made me realize how important it is to share life and its small joys with familie and friends. I can assure you that there are few places in the world like the gastronomic club to celebrate this sacred basque ritual of sharing a table with those we hold dear.

In winter, it is still possible to go river fishing in the Basque Country.  Close to San Sebastian there is one in particular that has great trout all year!  

The day was mostly cloudy which makes it perfect for river fishing.  We began the day fly fishing but with only a few nibbles and nothing to put into our basket. The brown trout on this river is quite large and so it is difficult to catch them with light equipment. 

In this photo, you see E.W.H, a professional rugby player on the Biarritz Olimpique team https://www.bo-pb.com/ , and his father.

 

Fishing in san sebastian

 

Around 2pm we decided to stop and enjoy a light lunch on one of the picnic tables along the riverbank.  We munched on local products such as cured ham, fresh bread, cheese and wine….perfect for restoring our strength to continue fishing.  I’ve always thought that a good picnic is paramount to a successful day of river fishing.  After lunch, we decided to change our technique and began spin fishing.  It wasn’t easy, but we finally caught three great specimens of brown trout.  
Around San Sebastian, there are many rivers with abundant trout.  In spring the season expands to include all rivers and it is the best time for this sport.  I would love to take you on a fishing excursion with San Sebastian Trips!

 

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The defining characteristic of the Basque Country is, undoubtedly, the culinary traditions, and the best accompaniment to a special meal is, of course, a special drink. Which brings us to the celebrated local beverage: hard cider.

For centuries, this simple drink has been made from nothing more than apple juice, pressed and fermented according to the traditional practice.

From mid March til the end of April, a celebrated Basque ritual is the txotx season (pronounced “chatch”), when people visit the cider houses when the year’s harvest is ready.

Most of the cider houses are located in the northeast of the province of Gipuzkoa, in traditional towns like Astigarraga, Hernani, Urnieta, and Usurbil. The die-hard ones keep in line with strict traditions, where people still eat standing, heavily dressed to ward of the winter chill in these large, old buildings. The more modern ones have indoor heating and plenty of seats at long, wooden tables to be shared among that day’s visitors.

The cider houses tend to charge a fixed price for the typical meal: codfish omlette, fried cod with peppers, a wood-fired t-bone steak, and a dessert of Idiazabal cheese, quince paste, and walnuts. Of course, this is all accompanied by as much cider as you can drink, direct from the wood casks on the walls.

Traditionally, the cider houses gave customers the opportunity to do a taste comparison from the different casks to choose the one they preferred. In Basque, a “txotx” is a small wooden stick, such as the one used to seal the wood cask in olden times. From there comes the tradition of yelling out “txotx!”, signalling that a new barrel is about to be opened. In this unique tasting ritual originated the custom of customers bringing their own food and ingredients so that they weren’t drinking on an empty stomach. Today’s set menu of a codfish omelette, fried codfish with peppers, and of course, fine Basque meat grilled to perfection is based on these traditions.

Cider house restaurant and the mountains