Basque Country - gastronomy, art and natural beauty
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Though sometimes in the news for negative reasons, Euskadi (to give it its Basque name) is in fact a land of outstanding natural beauty and charm.
The rugged coastline, mountainous relief and unspoilt countryside come together with its towns, picturesque villages and way of life to make for a unique region.
The Basques are noted for their proud independence, singular language, traditions and culture. Even their sports seem different, including jasotzea (stone-lifting) and segalaritza (grass-cutting), not to mention the more famous pelota (or jai lai). Bilbao is also home to the fabulous Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, which has already been called by many as the greatest building of our time. Add to this a cuisine that is generally recognised as being the finest in Spain and you have many compelling reasons to visit this truly unique region of Spain.
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Basque cuisine is widely recognised as being the finest, most sophisticated in Spain. Its traditional cooking is based on the finest fish and seafood - particularly hake, salt cod and spider crab. Interesting features are the unique men only gastronomic societies. Members get together in their spare time to cook up some fabulous dishes.
In many respects, they are act as the guardians of traditional Basque gastronomy. More recently, however, there has been a trend towards the so-called New Basque Cuisine. Without losing sight of the essential values of traditional Basque cooking, the new cuisine has been greatly influenced by French gastronomy. Whether new or old, cooking always revolves on using the best local ingredients and a creativity that makes for some truly succulent dishes.
Typical ones include porrusalda, (a dish based on leek and potatoes, alubias, white beans prepared with black pudding and Spanish pork sausage (chorizo) and el revuelto de Perretxicos, scrambled eggs with mushroon from Orduña.
Great fish dishes include hake in the form of merluza a la koskera and kokotxas els. Cod is also widely available and cooked in a variety of ways. Meat includes el sukalki, a succulent meat and vegetable stew. Typical desserts, include cuajada, a type of yoghurt. Don’t forget to try the fine cheeses, especially those from El Gorbea.