Basque Country, The Highlights

Written by Katie Parla on July 14, 2011

Well I don’t even know where to start. The trip through Basque Country was phenomenal. Thank you so much for sending me there! And thanks to everyone for your advice and comments along the way. The biggest thank you goes out to Mamma Parla who was so calm even though I am a terrible navigator and got us lost literally every time we got in the car (really sorry Mom!).

There were so many trip highlights, it’s difficult to narrow them down, but I shall do my best. Here are the places, meals and experiences that really made my trip to Basque Country:

The drive along the Basque Coast. The sea was beautiful, the coastal towns were lovely and Lekeitio and Getaria ended up being two of our favorite places in the region.

Grazing through Donostia-San Sebastian. The city is one of the foremost food capitals in the world. Take advantage of its many pintxos bars and Michelin starred restaurants (we focused on the former since we planned nothing in advance, but be sure to book the top rated restaurants weeks or months ahead). Be sure to make a stop at La Cuchara de San Telmo!

Staying at Ermintxo in Natxitus. If we had more time, I would have loved to spend a few nights there. We would pass the days at the nearby beaches, have cocktails on the patio overlooking cow pastures, and eat in the restaurant every evening. Next time…

Eating snails in Lekeitio. There is something so satisfying about passing the late afternoon in a dive bar digging snails out of their shells while locals knock back beers and watch tennis.

Eating suckling pig. You can barely turn around without running into a fat juicy hunk of suckling pig. I never turned one down. They were all pretty good, but the slice I had at lunch at Zuberoa was spectacular. In fact everything at Zuberoa was amazing.

Eating pintxos in Bilbao. This city should be just as renowned for its pintxos as it is for its Guggenheim. We loved the tortilla at Kepa Landa and everything at Bar Gatz.

Eating “The Garden” at Azurmendi. Chef Eneko Atxa’s dish represents the abundance, fertility and biodiversity of the Basque territory and features miniature vegetables and edible “dirt” (charred beetroot).

But the absolute highlight was experiencing such an extraordinary place and culture with Mamma Parla.

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