Food | Travelista

An expert team uncovers the Basque Country’s culinary secrets

A tour of the region’s lesser-known culinary jewels

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An expert team uncovers the Basque Country’s culinary secrets

June 03 2010
Maria Shollenbarger

Certain of the Basque Country’s culinary and cultural delights are world-renowned – think such luminaries as Arzak and Mugaritz restaurants in San Sebastian. Others, though, are far better concealed, though no less worthy; one just needs the right insider with whom to uncover and delight in them.

So it’s felicitous indeed that San Sebastian Food, a boutique culinary travel outfitter manned by Englishman Jon Warren, has partnered with author/Irish Times journalist/Basque authority Paddy Woodworth for a four-day tour of the region’s lesser-known jewels, scheduled for July. Guests will be based in the sweet French village of Sare (first picture), where a wheeled stand selling dense, mealy gateaux Basques filled with cherry preserves and custard has been a stalwart of the square for about as long as the timbered, quaint Hotel Arraya (second picture; guests will be accommodated here) behind it has stood.

Incursions into Spain – to witness traditional sword-dancing in the 14th-century village of Lesaka, to go pintxo bar-hopping in San Sebastian’s old quarter (third picture), to tour noble palaces in the Baztan Valley – will be led by historians, marquis-name chefs, and Woodworth and Warren themselves (whose cultural and gastronomic expertise, respectively, make them a sort of Basque-centric dynamic duo).

Finding the hidden gems means occasionally taking the less-trod path; those addicted to seven-star luxuries might consider sticking to the thalassotherapy pool at the Hotel du Palais in nearby Biarritz. But if you’re genuinely keen to experience the arguably more compelling luxury of first-person participation in a still relatively pristine culinary and architectural heritage, take a look at www.sansebastianfood.com.

The tour takes place on July 5-8. From €1,095 per person.