Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Sideria Sagardotegia
A Basque Cider House
Alorrene-Sagardotegia, Spain
Review by GornPod: Love Cherub of the Ghetto

The day in is spent getting up early heading south to the town of Hernani, our destination is the Chillida Leku Museum, a large sculpture garden and a farmhouse with pieces of Eduardo Chillida's work. We somehow get lost six or seven times making our way through the city but eventually one of us is able to get directions that take us too the right location. Everyone in the car is very glad at this point that at least one person speaks Spanish so well as we doubt that we would be getting anywhere fast without her.

The garden itself is massive and the large sculptures both iron and stone and rock are impressive in this setting but on some levels I don't enjoy art that is more about the material and the concept of building. The pieces center around density and shape, which is repeated many hundreds of times throughout the museum, I think it works really well in the setting and we enjoy walking around the garden and farmhouse.

After finishing at the museum we begin our search for the sideria path. In the north of Basque country during the months of January to April (after April they bottle the rest and close down the eatery) local cider houses open up and people come and try the firsts of that years batch of ciders. The whole town of Hernani is famous and the signs for different outposts and routes are easy to find.

We begin heading up a hill that takes us on what has to be steepest road I have ever been on, driving up the hill we pass many cider houses but decide to keep moving upwards as the best ones has to be the farthest up the hill. Finally we come to a point were we realize the car is not going to make it up the hill and if it does both the transmission and parking brakes are going to be shot.

We find the nearest cider house only to find out that they aren't really open for meals during the lunch hours and say that there are only two in the town that are. We get directions and head back down the hill headed for what is supposedly the best place in town for food.

It is a bit early for lunch when we get to the house, around 2:00pm and the places is empty but they let us in anyway we take our seats at the one of the large tables in a massive room with huge barrels of cider. The rules for the cider pouring is pretty easy and make sure to check the pictures on this because they tap each barrel, there are six barrels at the house and each one has a different flavor.

In terms of cider they are all on the dry side with small variations in sweetness and flavor. Supposedly the cider goes stale if it sits in your cup too long so procedure is pour small pour often.

The option of food at the cider house is a five course meal that doesn't stray too much from a traditional Basque farm meal, we order two meals for four of us because even though the house owner insists it will not be much food we kind of doubt their perception of what a small amount is. The food is served family style once again and it starts our with a cod omelet which is pretty good and the first time I have had eggs cooked as such since I left Ireland

The highlight of the meal was a cut of Ox meat that had something to do with the loin section but I wasn't exactly able to guess the cut but it was quite good. We finished the meal with hand-cracked walnuts a serving of cheese and quince jelly. The amount of food that was served was quite impressive for two people since four of us were completely stuffed after eating the portions that were served to us.

In some ways we missed out on the true cider house experience because we didn't come during the evening but even the owner admitted that the space had charm to which everyone there agreed. We left the house with a full case of cider to split between the four us.

After we waddle out of the cider house we take the drive east towards France and the city of Irun. It is a beautiful as we look at up at the Pyrenees. After getting a bit confused again by the Spanish highway system and nearly ending up in France we find our way south through the absolutely gorgeous hill country of Navarra (you might notice the name from many of the Spanish wines you have purchased) with sheep grazing on incredibly steep hills. We decide spend the night in the historic town of Olite, feeling incredibly lucky and warm.

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