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  • The Chopping Blog

Return to Basque Country for a Culinary Immersion

Posted by Andrea on Apr 1, 2024


Nestled within the captivating landscapes of northern Spain and southwestern France lies the Basque Country, a culinary haven that beckons travelers from far and wide. Amid the rugged beauty of the Bay of Biscay coastline, the independent region thrives with its own distinct language, culture, and a deep-rooted community centered around the appreciation of food and wine.

We first traveled to the Basque Country in 2022, and The Chopping Block is pleased to announce we are returning this fall, from September 30 to October 7, 2024. We are once again partnering with our travel partner Onward Travel and our friend Chef Guillermo Delavault, and I am beyond excited to announce I will also be leading this tour! Who wants to come to Spain with me? 

Spain San Sebastian aerial-1Our intimate group of travelers will make San Sebastián our home base for the week — a charming city embraced by the crescent-shaped embrace of its sun-kissed beach. In San Sebastián, vibrant city life unfolds against a backdrop of tantalizing gastronomic delights, ranging from the effervescent local wine, Txacoli, to the robust reds of Rioja, and from the convivial atmosphere of pintxos bars to the refined elegance of Michelin-starred restaurants. You will eat at two of these famous restaurants, including Elkano which has been named to the "World's Top 50" restaurant list and is a bucket list meal for chefs all over the globe. 

Basque pinxtosPintxos in Basque Country, Spain

Our accommodations, nestled within a historic building at the heart of the city and a stone's throw from the azure waters, provide a luxurious sanctuary for our culinary escapades. Hotel Arbaso means "Ancestor" and is now run by the founding family's third generation. It's also home to Narru, a fine dining destination which we will enjoy on our first night. Leading us through this gastronomic odyssey is Chef Guillermo, whose deep-rooted connection to San Sebastián infuses our journey with passion and expertise. After visiting this area for more than 20 years, he considers it his second home!

With Chef Guillermo and his Basque counterpart, Chef Lander Ganzo, we'll delve into the heart of Basque cuisine, exploring local markets brimming with fresh, seasonal produce and honing our culinary skills in a hands-on cooking class.

Basque chefsChefs Guillermo and Lander

Our group will partake in an exclusive cheese tasting party at the best cheese shop in town, complete with interesting wines paired with the iconic local cheeses.

Basque cheeseAs we traverse the Basque Country, we'll savor the culinary wonders it has to offer including the vibrant pintxos bars in the "old town" which feature Basque Country's version of tapas or small plates. As Chef Guillermo describes in his blog, you go from bar to bar, have one or two pinxtos and walk to the next one to repeat the ritual. These pinxtos use the best ingredients of the region and are outstanding. Anthony Bourdain once said of San Sebastián: "Even the bad restaurants are good." And he was so right!  

Along the way, we'll also indulge in the region's famed cider houses called Sagardotegias and explore the intricate flavors of Espelette pepper, a staple in Basque cuisine. This pepper is fresh and fruity with a hint of heat so it's spicy but not overwhelmingly so. Our Founder Shelley Young is obsessed with it and even grows her own peppers in Michigan to keep her supply constant. We will visit Atelier du Piment to explore the farm and learn about the process of growing and processing the peppers.

Espelette peppers

There is also amazing local wine in Basque Country. Txakolina wine has a natural spritz and is typically poured from high above, so it foams in the glasses and aerates. We'll visit a family-owned winery and taste the beautifully effervescent wine, as well as local Rioja wine in the region that has more than 500 wineries in the area. 

Basque wineryBeyond its culinary delights, the Basque Country enchants with its blend of historic charm and modern innovation. From the quaint fishing village of St-Jean-de-Luz to the avant-garde architecture of Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum, our journey is punctuated by captivating cultural experiences.

As our adventure draws to a close, those with an appetite for art can extend their stay to explore the museum's renowned collection and savor yet another Michelin-starred dining experience within its walls.

Join us on this seven-day culinary expedition, where every meal is a celebration of Basque hospitality and every vista a feast for the eyes. Whether you're captivated by the culinary scene or the breathtaking landscapes that stretch from mountain to sea, the Basque Country promises an unforgettable journey filled with treasures waiting to be discovered.

See the Basque Culinary Immersion Itinerary

We've already had great interest from our community for this much anticipated trip and we only have space for 14 travelers, so we expect it to sell out quickly. If you are interested, don't delay in reserving your spot now. I hope to see you in Basque Country this fall! 

Learn more about our Basque culinary tour

Register for Basque Culinary Immersion Now

Topics: France, Travel, Spain, onward travel, Basque, basque country, culinary vacation

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