Friday, December 10, 2010

Tourista, Book V

The next day we drove back over the border eastward into Spain. The destination this time: San Sebastián, the capital of the province Gipuzkoa. We headed to the coastline and beaches and the Urumea River before it. Next, we ambled through Parte Vieja and the multitudes of bars serving pintxos, known elsewhere as tapas. We hit 3-4 places, sampling some of the best sausage and octopus I've had, ever. The establishments teemed with what presumably were tourists. I had read that the locals don't really frequent this area, but most places were loaded with character and interest. This area, the "Old Part", is
divided by 2 separate church parishes: the Santa Maria and San Vincente. The picture below is of my wife and I standing in front of City Hall. The day was gorgeous as was the architecture, centuries old.The following day we were back in the French part of Northern Basque country. We stopped at a curious place in the Aldudes Valley called the Pierre Oteiza Boutigue, a restaurant and farm which raises and serves specialty pigs.As was explained to us, a breed of the Iberian Black Foot pig was almost extinct 20 + years ago. Through the efforts of Basque breeders, the pink patched dark swine were preserved and one can stroll the grasslands behind the restuarant (recommended: do this after you eat) to "ooh" at the cute sucklings. They live a relatively idyllic life, in open mountainside enclosures and feeding on a natural diet of fruit and acorns. The pigs will be ready for market at about 18 months. After dry curing, the ham will air for a year or slightly more before reaching your table.And what a unique spread! Pig shaped wood platters were brought out and we sampled several types of pig with all manner of texture and color. Some marbled, some sweeter. There was even pig ear! Chewy! All meats were cold to room temperature, like the most interesting cold cut array you've ever had. Aside from a swarm of flies that annoyed us (we were near a constantly opening front door and it was a very hot day), it was a pleasurable experience. We later went into the bar area to sample some free sweets (my FIL knew a manager there). Then, after watching the piglets out back, we also noticed that some lucky folks were getting burro rides.

Next entries: Paris!!
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