Sidrerías “Cider Houses”
Traditional Basque food at its finest
Eating at a Sidrería - or Sagardotegi in Basque - is a very special tradition in the Basque Country. It comes from the early times, when people would travel to purchase cider from a baserri - a traditional farmhouse that produced cider. Either because hosts would offer food after a long journey or guests would bring their own food, the idea of visiting these baserris and eating there became intertwined. Nowadays, Basque countryside is dotted with these Sidrerías that offer a very specific menu that reflects traditional Basque food: codfish, beef and vegetables.
Traditional menu at Sidrerías
Codfish is usually served at the beginning of a Sidrería meal: first in an omelette and then with fried green peppers. Later comes txuleta: a thick steak on a bone traditionally grilled as rare.
The food itself is only the part of the experience. How you eat and drink is another important part of the time spent at Sidrería. Traditional cider house has long tables, where people sit together and share the food. They cut what is served into small portions, then hold it over a piece of bread and eat in one or two bites. Farmers cheese, quince paste (membrillo) and walnuts conclude the meal and also add lots of fun to sidrería experience when guests start to crack walnuts using their bare hands or even foreheads!
And now, to the drinking! Sidrerías will, of course, offer all types of drinks if you’re not interested in the locally made cider, but the real heart of the experience resides in the txotx. Txotx (choch) is a shout-out by the sidreria owner that invites guests to line up by one of the massive cider barrels to fill their glasses. Once the tap is opened, a stream of cider shoots out and crushes against the lined up glasses. This process aerates cider adding sparkles and enriching its taste. Before you fill your glass, we recommend you watch a couple of people do it, because it is quite a process! However, don’t hesitate, locals are always more than happy to help a newcomer. In fact, it is a perfect occasion to start a conversation and make new friends!
If for any reason, you are limited on time to travel to the countryside and have a traditional cider house experience, there are plenty of places that offer a true Sidrería experience in the city of San Sebastian.