FIREMAN FOR A DAY
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There's a small place in the San Sebastian Region that is both unique and special. It may be small in size but it's large in influence, a place where everything, absolutely everything, is linked to cider. The area's history, culture, economy, customs and ways of life are all closely connected with this product. Welcome to Cider Country!
is most popular cry at any cider house. At the sound of 'txotx!', people get up from their tables and move to whichever barrel is being opened by the cider maker. They hold their glasses strategically, tilting them toward the stream of cider, making sure the liquid splashes against the side of the glass to release its best aromas. Although barely 50 years old, people the world over have fallen in love with this custom. The ritual originated when cider makers began offering buyers a chance to taste the cider before bottling. Today the txotx season runs from January to April although most cider houses now keep their doors open year-round.
of the cider houses are concentrated in the towns of Astigarraga, Hernani, Urnieta and Usurbil. However, cider houses can also be found throughout the San Sebastian Region. At the most traditional cider houses diners normally eat standing up, wearing warm clothing to fend off the cold in the large dining rooms where the barrels are kept. Today, however, most of the cider houses have 'gone modern', and now have heating and long wooden tables to sit at. What has not changed from one cider house to the next is the menu: cod omelette, fried salt cod with green peppers, thick steak, and cheese with quince jelly and walnuts for dessert.
owe a large part of our culture to apple cider. Is not known whether the traditional apple trees that form part of our landscape grew here naturally or were planted at some time in the distant past. What we do know is that a number of sources dating to the Middle Ages refer to the defence and protection of apple trees, apples and cider production. In the 16th and 17th centuries cider was produced in Basque farmhouses, which were constructed around a central apple press. Not only was cider a common beverage among the general population, it was also essential for Basque fishermen and whalers on their long journeys to the North Atlantic in search of codfish and whales. Their contracts specifically provided for two or three litres of cider a day for every crew member to fend off the dreaded scurvy.
If you’re planning to visit the San Sebastian region, you can book a hotel room, apartment, rural accommodation or camping space here.
Download maps and brochures on the San Sebastian region in PDF format and take them with you.
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