Greetings from San Sebastian, one of my favorite cities in the world. Though I have been coming here regularly for many years, but every single time I am in awe of its beauty. The architecture -so Parisian- in combination with the glimpses of nature all around (green mountains, the river flowing into the sea, the Concha beach), highlighted this time by the colors of autumn, combine to create a special place that steals my heart; I just can’t help coming back to it.
We are currently beginning day 4 of our Boutique Basque 2018 tour, and our guests could not be happier, which makes me very happy as well.
So far, we have tasted loads of pintxos, visited an Idiazábal cheese producer in a nearby mountain village, toured the old town, and laughed non-stop. The adventurous group (all women this time) has an amazing sense of humor, which makes my work lots of fun.
Drinking has been proliferous as well, and until last night, it had mostly been in the form of txakoli (the local young, lightly sparking white wine) and vermouth (or the Marianito, in its Basque version), which our guests have really taken to.
Last night, for our first hands-on cooking workshop of the tour, we cooked recipes out of Marti Buckley’s beautiful new cookbook Basque Country. Marti is coming to speak with us tonight about what it’s like to live in this city as an American expat, and I can’t wait to finally meet her in person.
The book is precious: it’s all about the traditions, without any spins, riffs, or fusions, and I love that. She has truly learned the cuisine, and understands and respects how much the Basques take pride in it as a an expression of their cultural identity.
My Boutique Basque guests were smitten with the version of sangría from Marti’s book, which I had prepped a few days in advance, as it needs to macerate to be truly delicious.
I have to admit, I’m generally not at all a fan of sangría, it’s not really what the locals drink and I sometimes have a hard time convincing visitors to Spain about that without disappointing them.
Over our long meetings to plan menus for our English classes at Slow Food Kitchen Barcelona, we struggled to find a way to give visitors to Spain what they want, while still keeping it true to local customs and tradition. That’s what Sobremesa Culinary Tours are all about. Not an easy task. In the end, I’m quite satisfied with what we came up with for the Catalan version of sangría for our workshops at SFK… but lo and behold, it turns out there’s a Basque version of it as well, and it’s pretty damn good, to boot.
recipe from Basque Country by Marti Buckley
1 bottle Rioja wine
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 peach (fresh or canned)
In a saucepan, combine 1/3 cup water, the sugar, and cinnamon and heat over high stirring until sugar has dissolved. Reserve.
Pour the wine into a container or pitcher. Add simple syrup to the wine. Add the lemon zest, peeled with a vegetable peeler into strips (avoid the pith).
Then cut the lemon in half and juice one half. Stir into wine. Cut the peach in half and add to wine. Cover container or closer bottle. Let marinate in a cool place for up to 3 days before refrigerating and serving cold.