Goierri-Basque Highlands Experience
In order to understand the personality of Goierri and the origin of its gastronomy and one of its flagship products, Idiazabal cheese, one must take into account the culture and the natural environment of the area.
We shall now propose a one-day visit that allows people to sample some of the main attractions of our small county.
-To begin with, we shall explore part of the Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Park, one of the two Parks (the other being Aralar) within Goierri County. We drive through shall Zegama and the Otzaurte mountain pass, to the car park at Aldaola. From here, inside the Natural Park itself, we will take a fifteen-minute stroll along a beautiful path to a perfect place from where to see the Saint Adrian tunnel. This tunnel is a UNESCO world heritage site, as part of the inland Santiago Pilgrim Route. Within a further twenty minutes we shall be at the tunnel and can walk through it and see parts of the medieval road, which still exists and along which innumerable historic characters travelled, as this was the old Castile-Flanders road.
-Following our morning walk, we shall head to a traditional cheese-maker where Idiazabal cheese is made. The Idiazabal Denomination of Origin encompasses the Basque Country and Navarre and certifies Latxa breed ewes’ milk artisan cheese. This cheese is well loved by chefs all over the world.
We shall learn how the cheese is made, first-hand, from the shepherd and cheese-maker and we shall taste the cheese too. We shall also be able to see the animals, grazing near the homestead.
-Before lunch, we will visit the village of Zerain, its ethnography museum, with exhibits collected in the village itself; and the Aizpea mines, a maze of underground mining tunnels, which was run by English and Germans and which has had an important impact on its surroundings.
-We can go to any one of the restaurants in the County for lunch. There is a broad range of prices, but they all offer excellent cuisine, with local, season, produce. The concept of slow-food is foreign here… because all food is slow food!
-After lunch we shall go for a stroll in Segura, a small village that maintains its walled-burgh essence, with its almond-shaped old quarter that will transport us to another time. The tranquillity of its streets and its architectural heritage make for a truly enjoyable walk.
-Mid afternoon, we shall head to the Gastronomy Centre, d´Elikatuz. There, we shall learn about the importance of food, Basque gastronomy and the central role of markets in the Basque Country; the centre is in Ordizia, a town with a market that has been held every Wednesday since 1512, where local farmers sell the produce of their farms.
-Before we sit down to dinner, we shall enjoy a game-like wine-pairing where we will learn how to taste Idiazabal cheese with Txakoli, a white wine mostly made on the Basque coast but also in Goierri.
-For dinner, we shall go to a sagardotegi, a cider house. This is a well known type of establishment in the Basque Country and it is always a peculiar surprise for visitors. There, we can see how natural cider is made and taste it too. After this, we can choose to sit down for dinner, or stand –as is traditional- and enjoy a typical cider-house menu: codfish omelette, codfish fillet with peppers, steak, and Idiazabal cheese with quince jelly and walnuts.