For those that have visited Biarritz, a longing to return or dwell there is often the sentiment expressed. One of the most delightful ways to relax, eat and enjoy the sweet atmosphere of Biarritz’s coastal charm is at Miremont (see my other post here about the 1872 tearoom and patisserie).
Etienne Singher, a young confectioner from Saint-Moritz opened the Miremont tearoom and patisserie in Biarritz in 1872. Almost one and a half centuries later, we enjoyed the lunch plat du jour on the second floor of this patisserie-restaurant, looking out at the lighthouse and the surfers launching off 2 metre waves.
Tucked away along the coast of Gipuzkoa province in the autonomous community of the Basque Country in the North of Spain, the autumn sunlight streams down on the blue sea, the green txakoli-covered fields, and the sheep spotted hills, as a few pilgrims hike past with St. James sea shells on their back packs.
Today I visited Minimil’s flagship clothing shop in Donostia and met the creative team of extraordinary Basque people. Here is my interview in Spanish and English with Maria.
My eyes were delighted by the sights of pastries and confections and my mouth was in sweet ecstasy from the chocolates and turrones of Pariès – Gourmandises Basques. You can see the tempting sweets below, and the range of chocolates was from rich and dark to sweet and creamy.
Today’s live stream featured San Sebastián Food who help their guests “Capture the memories of San Sebastián-Donostia, the briny taste of the Cantabrian Sea, and the joy of tiny bites of authentic Basque cuisine.”
I strolled across the beach and walked the glowing sand past where the sea usually lies, a rare privilege bestowed by the king low tide. Three metre tidal changes are not uncommon here in the Basque Country, and with the king tides the octopus are more accessible. Having learned some tricks from local octopus fisherman, I searched around where the sand meets the rocks and was rewarded under the first rock I checked. (I’d just like to mention that catching these very strong and intelligent creatures requires a fishing licence and the bag limit is 2 per licensed fishermen per day with size restrictions…Regulations are important!)
Yesterday, Fernando of Embajada de la Huerta gathered together a few of us from Gipuzkoa and we joined others from Bilbao & Gasteiz as a group of gastronomy, culture and Basque Country enthusiasts known here as “Igers” (see their photos on Instagram below).
Over the previous week, under drizzle and burst of sunshine, I’ve been exploring the Basque Country: Zumaia, Getaria, Donostia-San Sebastian & beyond (scroll down to see the photos).
Photography by Jonathan McCallum & Jason Coon
Yesterday I landed in Madrid Airport. The scorching heat of Spain’s interior only relented after five hot hours in the car, finally crossing the threshold into the vivid green Basque Country then as if in a dream drifting around an ocean road bend to see the beauty of our Gipuzkoan coastal fishing town. The south wind off the Cantabrian and the scent of the Txakoli grapes blended beautifully, welcoming me, it seemed, back home. Unlike the sizzling blue skies of the Iberian plains, today is cloudy in Euskadi, and it is so good to feel the lush grass damp from the morning dew, to breathe the briny air, and to hear the sound the the trikitixa and the music of people in the plaza. Holding my camera in one hand and my daughter’s hand in the other, we look towards the sea and set out walking along the northern route of St James’s Way. To share a glimpse, here are four photos from today and some favourites from when I first landed here, moving into and embracing this culture that has been so good for and to my family and me.
My friend Joseba Attard moved back to the Basque Country, to a ancient land where his mother, grandparents and ancestors dwelt for millennia. He learned the language, carved out a career as a freelance designer, and opted for life in the mountains near the sea where he shears sheep and seeks out the surf in his vintage van, his young family enjoying the peaceful pace of life. Joseba & his wife Joanna’s hard work and refreshing approach to life inspire me. The Basque media has frequently reported about his commitment to understanding and preserving the Basque language and culture, featuring him on Basque radio, newspaper and television.