Mutriku Mackerel Madness – Déjà Vu!

Welcome To Mutriku!

The Hounds made the pilgrimage to the Mutriku Mackerel Fest last year, but because detailed info on the when, what & how was next to non-existent, we opted to set off quite early in old Gertie the Land Rover to avoid any crowds & parking hassles & pulled in just short of the 10AM mark. The town was absolutely vacant, and we had a couple of serious doubts about the possible success of our mackerel fest quest. But a quick chat with the Tourist Information folks confirmed that it was all a “Go!”, but kicking off shortly after 12PM…

Mackerel Pintxo Numero Uno y Dos! Our First Port of Call – Taberna Ametza.

The only substantial mistake we made last year was that we missed the BIG MACKEREL GRILL OFF that capped the day at around 6PM (due to driving & drinking restrictions). So included in this year’s operational plan was an overnight stay. There are only 2 places to sleep with a dog in Mutriku & we lucked out with one of the 3 rooms @ Hostal Rin. Perfectamente location…

Our greatest advantage in attending this year’s fest was that we pretty much knew the score, and queued up for our fave spots from last year. First stop, Taberna Ametza, where we sampled 2 different mackerel pintxos washed down with a pair of  zuritos (small beers) on the town square – off to a solid start…

Batzokia’s Excellent Mackerel Strips in Olive Oil with a Drizzle of Balsamic…Top Pintxo By Far!

We next made a bee line for our top voted bar from last year’s visit – Batzokia. The front of house service @ this taberna is all women & they were: (a) super friendly and (b) massively efficient. In a brief chat with one of the women we learned (if our Spanish was up to snuff) that the bar/restaurant is run as a co-operative and is somehow part of or supported by a Basque political party called EAJ-PNV (we have one in Hondarribia). And, once again, we were not disappointed to find our most desired pintxo still being dished out in quantity (and free!) at the bar. We found it hard to leave…

Mutriku Scenes…

The Weather Gods, though not fully co-operating, were indeed most kind to us. As every time we headed into a bar or taberna for a drink & a snack, the heavens opened up & hosed Mutriku down. Then, miraculously, just as we zipped & buttoned up to battle the elements, they flicked a switch & it all ceased & desisted. Two hats off to the Weather Gods!

Mutriku Scenes – Billie Strolls the Harbour…Buildings of Mutriku.

Top Left: Mackerel Pintxos & a Croqueta; Event Poster; Yet Another Taberna – Bar Zubixa; Mr. Mackerel Stokes Up the Crowd

Top Left: Bar Zubixa Political Poster; Da Marching Band!; Boat

Top Left: Mutriku Port; Boat Houses; Family Pic; Duck Fountains

As the arvo wore down, it was fast approaching the kick off time for the Big Event – a grand scale mackerel grill up & pintxo fest port side. We developed a plan to: (a) make an initial foray into the crowded fest as Hound #2 had a great fear of missing out on some mackerel a la plancha; then (b) return Billie to our hostel room for a siesta; (c) wander the Old Town & sample some more pintxos at any bars we might have missed; and (d), end up back at the port for some more mackerel pintxos & some live music.

The Big Verdel Event – Top Left: Plate of Grilled Mackerel & a Cold Beer for 1 Euro!; Da Crowd; Festival Menu in Basque; Up Close & Personal Verdel Pic; From On High Crowd View

Parts (a), (b) and (c) all went to plan & success was achieved on all fronts…but when part (d) rolled around, something was clearly amiss. We arrived back at the port shortly after 9PM (give to take 15 minutes) and everything & everybody had vanished – no mackerel food stalls, no people, no stage and no music…party over! We were going with the general consensus view that the Spanish like to party & stay out late, but I guess the stall vendors & musicians had other ideas. But it was true that the gente (people) fullfilled their mantra ‘eso si que es la vida‘ (this is the life) & saw the sun rise…we could hear the riotous crowd noises from our paper thin walled room. And it was not much help on the sleep front when our two neighbours stumbled in (and I mean stumbled in) around 4 or 5AM.

Top Left: ‘Mackerel Day’ in Basque; Professional Txakoli (local white wine) Pourer; Two Fun Late Night Pubs…For Young Folks.

Zumia Pit Stop…

Up early for a quick walk round the Mutriku port, then headed home with a quick stop in Zumia for a second coffee and a wee squizzy around the Old Town section…safely back in Hondarribia for lunch. Excellent adventure had by all…

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Mutriku Mackerel Madness – Déjà Vu!

  1. The Spaniards have totally nailed every possible festiVal market. Impressed How could Winton totally screw up an IceCream Festival…first ever in NZ? Biggest and most successful ever event held in the town in the least diversified agricultural area in the country? Go figure. And who killed it? The two dairies. The very two businesses that stood the most to gain (traveling through or visiting Southland ….then visit the icecream heartland), but got pissed off that other business s were featuring ice cream on the day. Also…may I add….one dairy had their biggest grossing day ever!!!! Shit Fuck Dam and blast.

    Gillian McFarlane Country Matters 313 Great North Rd Winton Southland, 9720 New Zealand Ph 03 236 0702 Email Gillian@countrymatters.co.nz http://www.countrymatters.co.nz Mobile : 0274345223

    >

    • Yep — Know the exasperation first hand. When I was putting the Lyttelton Farmers Market together I thought it would be a sign of good will to go to each of the Lyttelton businesses and give them a short brief about what / why I was trying to do this. Every one of them – to a ‘T’ – were adamantly against it. Everybody gave me the same whinge – it is going to kill my business. But far from it — the market almost doubled the Lyttelton population on a Saturday & ALL the businesses did gangbusters. They did so well that I’d say about 6 or more new businesses opened up to take advantage of the throngs of people. Oh well….

      • I hadn’t heard of the Winton Ice Cream Fest – now I know why! What a shame some people are so very short-sighted. I hope the static businesses of Lyttelton were gracious enough to eat their words and admit LFM was a brilliant idea – though I doubt it. The Mackerel Fest looks fabulous – my fish of choice! Yum! You will miss this kind of thing when you come back. Maybe we could get something going on your return…

    • Yo Bub — Yes…very, very hard to beat the Spanish @ this game. EVERY pueblo has its fiesta or festival so a week does not go by where you cannot attend something. And it is slightly amazing given the economic situation here – something like 50% of the people under 25 are unemployed & 25% of people over 25…but they seem to party on & make the most of life which is to be greatly admired. Hurrah Españolas!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.