Visit, tasting and local produce at a cider house
The “Txotx” ritual is a ceremony of good food and drink, to enjoy the essence of a centennial gastronomic tradition. At any of the cider houses dotted around the territory of Gipuzkoa you can live out this experience, which you will certainly be keen to repeat. With your friends, with your partner or your family, txotx!
Any time of year is ideal for the unique experience of having lunch or dinner at one of the 70 cider houses around Gipuzkoa. Cider has been made here for centuries from fermented apple juice in accordance with traditional practices. The “txotx” ritual brings Basques to the cider houses to taste the new season’s cider before it is bottled, along with typical menus based around cod tortilla, beef chops, nuts, cheese and quince jelly. The cider season is from mid-January to the end of April, but some cider houses are open all year round. These are restaurants usually located at the farmhouses where the cider itself is produced, surrounded by apple orchards.
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At many cider houses it is still the tradition to eat standing up, and always with thick clothing to guard against the chilliness of the cider production facility. Diners help themselves directly from the barrels or ’kupelas’, situated next to the dining room, and so there is a continuous toing and froing of people in a very lively atmosphere.
There are more than 30 cider houses in Hernani and Astigarraga, barely ten kilometres from San Sebastián. Cider, however, is not just a gastronomic jewel and a way of life, because it is also part of our culture. This is why the Sagardoetxea or Cider Museum is located in Astigarraga. It has three different areas: the orchard, where you will find the different types of apples, and follow the maturing process and collection methods. The tasting centre, ideal for an induction into the secrets of the “txotx”. And the museum itself, where you will find an exhibition of utensils, games and photographs to give you an insight into cider rituals and customs.
Also, for those who wish to delve deeper, there are also many plans and offers of experiences in connection with the world of cider, such as Sagartrekking, Tastings, Guided Tours and Combinations, Cider and the Sea, the Cider Route ... Jump into the cider culture for a genuine local experience.
Important: some advice you should bear in mind before going to a Cider House:
- The owner of the cider house shouts txotx! to offer visitors cider from a new barrel.
- Diners get up from the table and approach with their empty glasses. Each person, keeping to the order in which they arrive, tilts their glass until the cider, which spurts out from a small pressurised hole, ‘breaks up’ on the side of the glass to give off its aromas.
- The various types of cider may be tasted next to the barrels, and patrons share their sensations with the rest. They then go back to the table with an empty glass.
- The operation is repeated again and again until each barrel has been tasted.