Pintxos – As They Happen…

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I had seen the poster in the photo above all over Hondarribia but, as usual, it is 100% in Basque. I could decipher it was going to happen this coming Saturday (September 26th), and started at 11AM but beyond that it was all Basque to me. It coincided with our Saturday Farmers Market so it was a no brainer to wander on down with Hound #1 and have a squizzy.

While purchasing some fresh veggies I queried the stall holder ‘¿Qué pasa aquí?’ and he informed me that 2 chefs from local restaurants were going to be doing a pintxo making demo & the results would be free to eat! Yippee….

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The 2 chefs came from these two establishments – the one above, Danontzat, is in our hood in the Casco Antiguo & is quite stylish & hip. And the one below, Bar Sardara, is smack dab on the main drag (Calle San Pedro) & directly opposite the Farmers Market.

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The 2 chefs explained each step as they assembled the pintxos, emphasising they were ‘pintxos con products locales y ecologico y temporada’ (pintxos made with local, ecological & seasonal products) – using ingredients from the Farmers Market. Yes!

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Pintxos As It Happens…Bacalao, Salt Cod & Pimientos.

Once a decent number were assembled, the chefs would whisk them away to various farm stalls for the crowd to partake…you had to be fast! I was lucky – the woman in front of me scooped the last two from the platter but when she turned to give it to her son, he turned his nose up. Viola! My hand was quickly extended & she graciously plopped it in my palm. Yum…

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Salt Cod, Pintxo Flag & Folks Chomping Down.

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Hondarribia Fest – The Best

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Spain loves their festivals and recently it was Hondarribia’s turn. And what a festival – a full on week of events spanning everything from parades of giant people to masses of marching bands and a plethora of musical and dance events. Again, not sure how any or all of this gets paid for as it is all FREE.

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Musical Events Marquee – Wow! – With 5 Bars!

Each day had a full schedule of events & activities to see, culminating in a nightly midnight musical performance in the marquee pictured above. Unfortunately, I did not manage to make any of these as the only after midnight I even get remotely close to these days is a periodic listen to JJ Cale’s song…

The town and its folks go all out for this festival – this shop went to town with its display windows featuring the Basque traditional dress. We have still not sussed out the guys in the hairy hats & beards & saws – inquiring minds want to know.

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Basque Berets, Beards & Hairy Hats

I read about one event that was to take place in the old town where we live that my translated Spanish said – Bull Run for the Kids. Had to see this one! So headed for the town hall where it was officially declared ready to go & viola! Large inflatable bulls chased the wee ones through the streets and the kids all carried some type of semi-hardened balloon that they kept whacking the bulls with, generating a cacophonous sound.

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Bull Run for the Wee Ones…

And this was one of my favourites and also a bit creepy – the GIGANTES parade which took place EVERY DAY FOR THE ENTIRE WEEK. I think I sussed it out that different kids won or were chosen each day to be the lucky ones to wear the masks & dance the giant folks & whales around which they seemed to enjoy immensely. All the parade path streets were chocka with families to watch them go by & then join in the parade. By the time it ends up on Calle San Pedro (Hondarribia’s High or Main Street) they had quite a mob!

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Masked Wee Ones

Hondarribia is a fishing town so the parade features, besides funny people masks & giant dancing folks, a giant whale and squid.

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Los GIGANTES!

And if you are a person who likes a decent parade – get to Hondarribia for next year’s festival because you will get your guts full of marching bands. The BIG DAY for the festival was on a Tuesday as that I believe is officially Hondarribia’s birthday, like the 4th of July in the States. And these folks get started early – a 5AM start time that brought the massive marching band directly past our place @ 6AM…yes, 6AM. Hound #1 snoozed through the whole palava…lucky dog.

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Clockwise, Top Left: 6AM March By; Arma Plaza – Marching HQ; Sea of Red Berets; The Bar is OPEN!!! 8AM….

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Dressed To The Nines…

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And Here They Come! Down Calle San Pedro…

And as you might suspect, all this parading & partying comes with some type of cost…and that be trash. Thank the gods that be that Hondarribia employs a virtual army of very hard working clean up folks that do an awesome job of keeping the place spick & span.

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Litter, Litter, Everywhere…And Mr. Clean’s Army

And what better way to end a week long fest than with an excellent market. Most of the folks we see at our regular weekly market were here along with some truly delicious charcuterie (got some serious chorizo), cheese and sweets vendors…and of course, da cows.

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End of Summer Cornucopia…

Happy Birthday Hondarribia – will miss you next year….

 

We Are The Champions! We Are The Champions!

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The Crowds Gather @ the Town Hall…

We have been to one of the Hondarribia Regatta events & had an awesome time but this week, apparently if I understood the Spanish, it was for the championship being raced out of Bilbao. The town was alive with folks decked out in the team green colours (Shirts, neckerchiefs, flags, hats) and as the time for the race to start fell near, the crowds gathered at the town hall.

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Awaiting the Results on the Old Church Wall…

And we won!!!!! The place went nuts….and of course we had to have a parade – what’s a Spanish victory in a cherished sporting event without a round-the-town parade with marching bands, dancing and the ever present fireworks!

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And Away We Go! March People, March!

And I managed to capture a wee bit of video action for your viewing & listening pleasure…

Fly Fishing The Pyrenees

As I may have mentioned in my previous blog on fly fishing in Spain, the season is or can be a short one. With that in mind & fall / winter quickly marching in, I decided I really wanted to have a go at some of the high mountain rivers in the Pyrenees. A wee bit of research and I was in touch with Chema @ Danica Guides. And as luck would have it, he and his lovely wife Marta also run the phenomenal La Casa del Río hotel. So we were off…FYI – this blog post will be more pictures & less text as I was also blessed with an ace photographer as well as a professional trout guide!

Anywhere is a long drive in my 1975 Series III Land Rover (Gertie) so we tried to make the most of it and stopped off at various sites for a look see and often a cold cerveza. Hound #1 requires a few piss & poo stops so we pulled over at this lovely looking reservoir where quite a few folks were either having a dip (it was a warm one) or fishing. Litter is a big problem in just about every place we have lived, but I think sometimes Spain is vying for the global championship.

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Contrasts…

The very final stretch of our travels presented the Land Rover with a wickedly winding gorge road that paralleled the Ésera River the whole way – sometimes several hundred yards/metres above with shear drop offs that gave Hound #2 the willies.

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Scary Gorge Drive…

But we made it safe & sound and received a warm & wonderful welcome at La Casa del Río….we were most def ready for a beverage or three, some comestibles and a good bed!

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Estupendo!

A sign I like to see upon arrival! And BTW, La Casa del Río is also very dog friendly which gets a solid 2 thumbs and 1 paw up from this crew.

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Good Sign To See…

The weather could not have been more co-operative and we awoke our first morning to a stunningly sunny, bright blue sky day…and a estupendo breakfast which was exactly the food fortification we would need for our full on day of activities.

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Two Brothers From Different Mothers….Guide Chema & Me

The river water in the high mountains of the valle de Benasque is stunningly pretty – clear as the water that I find in my home rivers in New Zealand. But the fly fishing style is a bit different than most of New Zealand fishing as these rivers are quite bouldery with small pools of pocket water. It can be difficult wading at times, and much of the actual fishing is dapping a dry fly with a nymph dropper on the water surface with very little fly line out, mostly leader.

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A Beauty of a River

One of the things I had to learn when I moved from New Zealand to the UK and now Spain is that the trout are damn quick on the take. It is a common piece of advice or practice in New Zealand that when you see a trout take the fly, you need to say “God Save the Queen” (or the real Kiwi phrase – “Bloody Hell – a fish”) so as not to strike too early. Not here…

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Small Pocket Water Fishing…Small Fish

On numerous occasions during my two days of fishing with Chema we had some challenging boulder scrambles and tricky casting perches.

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Tricky Waterfall Climb…Then Trickier Perch

As the first day wound down to a close, Chema took me to a section of the Ésera River lower in the valley where it flattens out a bit and looks a bit more like your normal river. We stayed at it until dark or I was unable to see the fly and were rewarded with some very solid hookups & fish!

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Best Catch of the Day…and Night.

As I mentioned above, the quality of the river water struck a New Zealand chord with me as did much of the flora and fauna (of which Chema was supremely knowledgable)…just a wee squint of my eyes and I could have been fishing one of my fave rivers Down Under.

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Fishing for Trout in Hobbitt Country…

And Hound #1 is a faithful wee boy – it’s just that rivers and fast moving & sometimes deep water is not really his thing. So he and Hound #2 joined us for a wonderful lunch each day for a chance to recharge the batteries and then they were off to hike the valley & mountains.

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Hound & Fisherman….

We also greatly appreciated the fact that besides giving me 2 excellent days of fly fishing in the Pyrenees, Chema organised the day’s activities to easily include Hounds #1 & #2 in the fun. Muchas gracias…

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Happy Pyrenees Crew – Perfecto Weather!

Halfway through the second day I, by George, think I got it, the pocket pool fishing & it was fun…

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Pool Pocket Fishing…

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Just One More…Please.

KaiZaharra – Just Fancy Enough…

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Mesa with a View – That Be France Over Yonder…

It was Hound #2’s last day in Hondarribia before venturing back to the UK for a wee while so a menú del día was most def in the cards. She had scoped out a new place that had come highly recommended by an hombre we struck up a chat with over pintxos. So it was there we headed – only to be stymied by yet another Wednesday closing. Wednesday seems to be the Spanish or Basque restaurant siesta day…

Our back up plan was to try for the first time one of the places along the Bidasoa River & Harbour front – a place with a view. We scored a river side table at Kai Sahara, where the service is excellente! Quick, friendly and accommodating…

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The menú del día was short & sweet and only €16 – incluso of vino, coffee & dessert. Hound #3 decided to give the Sopa de Pescados a whirl as it seems to be an area specialty. We have attended 2 local jai lai events where a guest restaurant serves you food & each time it was a sopa de pescado, just like this one. Delicious….

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Sopa de Pescados

Hound #2 veered towards the Pasta del Día and she did not go wrong – the picture does not do it justice nor convey the wonderful flavours on that plate.

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Pasta del Dia

Our vino of choice these days tends to be 90% rosado or clarete (another blog post on that later). And this one from Bodegas Piedemonte was a winner – easy, easy quaffer.

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Chilled Rosado from Navarra

Healthy Hound #2 decided to go with the Bacalao con Tomate – another local area fish dish that seems to be on everyone’s menus. All gone…

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Bacalao con Tomate

And Hound #3 fell for an old time fave – Duck Confit a la Orange. Fenomenal! Very subtle orange sauce – just the way I like it. May have to eat a wee bit more of this duck confit as we are SO close to France.

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Confit of Duck a la Orange

And for dessert, Torrija Caramelizada con Crema Inglesa (very fitting name for an English girl’s dessert)…just what struck us both as a dessert thing we needed to try. No mistakes were made in the eating of this meal…

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Torrija Caramelizada con Crema Inglesa