Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cider House at Astigarraga

A little town in San Sebastian famous for apple cider

Zapiain -one of the top apple cider brands coming from Astigarraga

Serving up apple cider in a special way

Chorizo sausages

Tortilla - Spanish omelette with onions

Bacalada or bacalao - salted cod

La Chuleta ( T-bone steak ) grilled in a country oven and sprinkled with sea salt

Barrels of apple cider (also known as sidra in Spanish)

My friends read in a guide book that cider houses are one of the hidden dining gems of the Basque country in San Sebastian. So we took off on an adventure on a local bus to Astigarraga in the San Sebastian countryside and started our search for cider houses. Along the way we saw some nice country cottages, sheep but nothing remotely like a place that presses apple cider. We walked furthur in and once we started smelling hay and manure, we knew we were in too deep. We started walking back and deciding that I had nothing to loose, I opened the door of a place that seems like a pub of sorts. It was empty but when I looked down, I saw wooden barrels and a lady smiling at me.

 "Apple Cider ?"  in all my eagerness. I wasn't leaving the town without a taste of sidra. She nodded her head and I signalled my friends in.

A special menu at 38 Euros came with a free flow of apple cider but we decided to order ala carte instead. Chorizo (probably cooked in cider), tortilla (apparently an in house specialty), bacalao (salted cod) with peppers and chulata (for three). After the chorizo, the bacalao and some tomato bread, the friendly waitress came with a huge slab of la chuleta ( T-bone steak). "Ta-pao" (Chinese for take away) was all I could think of. There was no way we could finish that. We waited and drank up the apple cider as the slab went into an old fashioned oven. The food probably digested a little during the 40 minute wait and the chulata was devoured on arrival, including the bone which I relished with great gusto.

That was one of the best beef dishes I have ever had ! Rustic with full bodied flavour ! And yes, the apple cider was nice too.

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