Cider House Rules in the Basque Country

There was a public outcry in Britain when Labour tried to raise the duty on cider by 10% in the last budget culminating in a Facebook campaign, Leave Our Cider Alone, and a decision to shelve the tax before the dissolution of parliament.

But in the Basque country, the only cry that goes up in cider season from January to April is 'ccchhhotch' ('txotx' in the local language), which means to break out the cider! At which point, people duck through small doorways in farmhouses and emerge in cavernous rooms filled with enormous chestnut barrels, their glasses tilted towards a fine flow of wheat-coloured cider.

Nowadays, cider houses are one of the hidden dining gems of the Basque country, serving a variation on a menu of chorizo cooked in cider, salt-cod omelette, fresh cod fried with peppers, char-grilled T-bone steaks, walnuts and Idiazábal sheep's cheese – all for around €30 with unlimited cider.

Check out some of the best cider houses in and around San Sebastian, Zelaia Zelaia, Lizeaga, or Altzueta, Altzuetasagardotegia.

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