When you go to the Basque Country, you cannot miss the cuisine offered by this area. One unique, exciting experience you can discover in the Basque Country is visiting the sagardotegi. It is a cider house where sagardo, apple cider, is both produced and served. The cider master, txotxero, uses a mini hammer to remove the stopper of the kupela, a giant wodden barrel. It is a tradition for someone to yell “Txotx!” when the cider shoots out of the tap and is caught several meters away. The fermented, often aromatized with fresh apple sagardo shoots out of a hole no bigger than a few milimeters into a guest’s glass. Filling your glass full is seen as disrespectful but each guest is welcome to get a small amount at one time in order to enjoy a fresh gulp of sagardo.
The sagardotegi is known as sidrería in Spanish and as cidrerie or chai à cidre in French. In the past, the sagardotegi was where the locals would typically go to buy sagardo and take a meal with them so they wouldn’t drink on an empty stomach.
Nowadays, you will find the most authentic sagardotegis around Donostia that are open from mid-January through April. The most typical menu includes:
Starter: Pintxo of chorizo cooked in sagardo
First Plate: Tortilla de bacalao | Cod fish omelette
Second Plate: Bacalao alla sidreria | fried cod with caramelized peppers and onions
Third Plate: Txuleta | Enormous, thick-cut dry-aged rib steak
Dessert: Membrillo (quince paste) and crack-your-own walnuts
Here is a video showing how txotxero pour sagardo:
Here is one of a few sagardotegis that open all year round near San Sebastian.