It feels so good to be home. Fresh air, green mountains, and soft sandy beaches.
I am still in the thick of my vacation with my family in the Basque Country, but I wanted to pop in and say hello. I have captured over 1,000 images and I thought you would like to see some from a trip we took to Iparralde last week — the French Basque Country.
Despite current political divisions, the Basque Country (Euskal Herria) is made of seven provinces, four of them in Spain in the south (Hegoaldea) and three in the north in France (Iparraldea). The Basque language is spoken throughout and that is why we call it the Basque Country.
When I was a little girl and before all European borders disappeared, going to Iparralde was a very exciting adventure. Only an hour drive away, we had to carry our passports and a completely different currency. We looked for products that we couldn’t find back home and indulged in the supermarket aisles.
Last week we decided to take a trip to Donibane Lohitzun (St. Jean de Luz) and Espelette, where the famous peppers come from. We packed some food, but we knew we would find most of what we would need for our picnic in the farmers’ market that happens every Tuesday.
We purchased local sheep’s milk cheese and yogurt, artisanal bread from Etchart, charcuterie, mirabelle plums, berries, and more. As we expected, the old pedestrian streets were crowded with tourists. We ate amazing ice cream at Txomin and macarons and gâteaux basques at Maison Adam, then headed to the beach where we leisurely ate our bounty while we watched people come and go.
In the afternoon, we drove to Espelette. I was so excited for the burst of color that awaited us. The buildings are covered with hanging red peppers that are dried to make the coveted piment d’Espelette that I love.
Green hills surround the old town where herds of sheep graze. There was a light mist of rain that afternoon and it smelled of the Basque Country I remember from my childhood. A certain nostalgia and mysticism.
Last week I also taped a new episode for cooking show Robin Food, which will air in November. I cooked a risotto with wild mushrooms and clams, as well as a plum and red currant galette. I think you will like it. We certainly did.
I am in awe and inspired.
The kids are having so much fun playing with their cousins, visiting family farms, and running around in the open spaces. Weather has been unpredictable, but I welcome it. I love summer rain.
And so we will be here one more week. I will return with more images and stories, but for now, I must go.
The park awaits us.