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  The Great Cuisine of The Basque Country

t’s no accident that many of the best restaurants in Spain are found along the northern coast of Spain, otherwise known as Green Spain. One reason is the abundant fishing waters of the North Atlantic. Here you can enjoy unique seafood dishes found nowhere else. Like Txangurro, the shell of the spider crab filled with its own meat sautéed in a delicious sauce. Or imaginative dishes made from Percebes (goose neck barnicles) or endives stuffed with Monkfish.

One secret of the northern cuisine is its flavorful vegetables grown in the fertile Ebro Valley, especially its mushrooms, legumes and white asparagus, which are served as main dishes. Like Porrusalda (leek and potatoes). Or Alubias (white beans prepared with black pudding). Or Pisto a la Bilbaina, a unique dish made from green peppers and tomatoes. Or stuffed Aubergines (eggplant). Or Artichoke fritters and pine nuts to name a few.

Still another feature of northern cuisine is the bounty of fresh water fish and wild game that the mountainous terrain of its interior provides. The wilderness area just north of Pamplona was one of Hemmingway’s favorite hunting and fishing grounds. Like Pheasant, Venison and Wild Boar.

Probably the biggest influence on the cuisine of western and northern Spain is its proximity to France. In the late 70s and early 80s Juan Mari Arzak, and other great Basque chefs gave the French Nouvelle Cuisine a distinctly Spanish flavor to create a proudly original cuisine, La Nueva Cocina Vasca. A typical meal might be as follows: Banderillas (pickled peppers, anchovy and olive skewered on a toothpick) for starters. Followed by the famous Merluza a la Koskera (hake). And topped off by a Cuajada (yoghurt) covered with Intxaursaltsa (a unique sauce made of nuts) for dessert. Of course, to accompany your meals are some of the world’s best wines. The famed wines of Navarra and Rioja. Need we say more?

We can’t talk about Northern Cuisine without at least mentioning Pintxos. Although tapas were invented in Andalucia, they were perfected in San Sebastian. Pintxo is the haute cuisine of Tapas. It’s the Spanish custom to have one Pintxo and Vino in one bar, and move on to the next bar. You’ll never run out of bars. Nor different Pintxos to try.

Gastronomy of the Basque Country  
Gastronomy of the Basque Country SPACER Gastronomy of the Basque Country