Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Outstanding Out-of-Towners (Part 6)

Saturday was forecasted to be rainy all day so we didn't want to do something that required sunshine.  What doesn't require sun?  Sleeping in, relaxing and pintxo eating!

We had an easy morning and pick the ladies up about noon and headed to the west to get some of what Joseba and I think are the tastiest pintxos.  We got off the freeway in Zumaia and headed back along the coast til we reached the little fishing village of Getaria.  Known for being home to the first man who circumnavigated the world (Elkano), being the birthplace of Balenciaga (an out-of-my-price-range designer) and the place where the best Txakoli, the Basque's white wine, is made, Getaria is also a place of yummy pintxos everywhere you look.

We parked in the port and got a close-up view of the big fishing rigs as we climbed a winding hill to the top of the rock that the city sits on.  Along the way we couldn't help but pick up some goodies in the street fair that was going on!  Once up top with a good view of the port, we ran into a restaurant with the grill outside.  With rod iron holders for fresh-caught fish to cook in, the smoke runs into the street and grabs at your nostrils as you stroll along.  With just hot coals and a bit of seasoning, these fish run a high price but are delicious and cooked right before your eyes - literally.

The cobblestone street wound past the restaurant and through a stone tunnel that is part of the church above.  Grammy and I peaked into one of the altars that is hidden in the tunnel behind a thick rod-iron gate.  As we entered the church, we marveled at it, although it was very plain.  The stained-glass windows were beautiful and some newer than most and this modernity mixed nicely with the engraved wooden pews.  From the hanging boat to the engraved whale catching on the benches, Getaria's fishing life was very apparent.

Normally when Joseba and I go into a place or pass thorugh a tunnel or basically anywhere that would have good acoustics, he tries out a song for me.  He mentioned that he had seen a 4 person accapella concert in that very church a few years back and that the sound was amazing.  Although he is not shy to sing his heart out with me, I wondered if he would be to do it for Grammy and Cathy, but when I asked him to sing us something, he thought about it for a minute and then the performer inside of him took over and he started to seranade all 3 of us with 'Moon River'.  The acoustics were perfect, the church was empty and Joseba's voice filled it.  The smell of the incense that had been burned for morning mass still hung in the air and the chill from the stone church couldn't overtake the warm voice that we were hearing.  Cathy managed to get it recorded on video and probably will use it as evidence that Joseba seranades me which means her husband should do the same ;)

We thought that Joseba's singing had earned him some food so we headed up to our favorite bar in the town to wow Cathy and Grammy with some specially ordered pintxos.  You see, each pintxo bar has a million pintxos up for grab on the bar, but what some visitors miss are the even-more tasty ones that have to be ordered.  With Joseba as an expert, we got a smorgasbord of hot pintxos to accompany our grabbed-from-the-bar variety and txakoli.  With huge mushrooms, ham croquettes, shrimp in a garlic sauce and txopitos, the 'onion' of the sea (which, Grammy I hate to break it to you, really was breaded and fried squid - they were delicious though right?!), we all had happy tummies. 

After a quick stopoff for Cathy to buy some Haribo Gummy Bears, her fave treat that she couldn't believe she had found, we headed up the hill even more afterwards to see the Elkano monument.  From here you could see everything along the coast, and had it been sunnier you could have even seen more!  The cloud were rushing in though and rain soon started to pelt us on the back and so we hurried off to the car, only after stealing one more glance of the gorgeous seaside panorama.

We took the coastal highway on the road home and made a stop off at the grocery store in Zarautz where we stocked up on yummy stuff for dinner, and Joseba gave a Basque cheese tutorial to Cathy.  With all of the stuff Cathy and Grammy needed to whip us up a tasty dinner meal, we headed home, but had one more stop on the agenda.

While Joseba grew up in Orio, his mother and her family grew up on a lovely farm right near the town of Zarautz.  We took a little detour to show Cathy and Grammy a bit of Joseba's past and they loved it.  The white walled farm is accented with red shutters and doors and the flowers around the house and all over the property and happily cared for by Joseba's uncle, Ricardo.  Grammy once even sent hiim a packet of American flowers which he currently has growing in his garden!

We dropped the ladies off to allow them a little bit of time to wind down and start thier dinner sensation and came back later in the evening, ready to be dazzled.  The meal started out with the tasty Basque green peppers that we had served at our house a few days before along with the finger foods - cheese, crushed black olives and whole colorful olives, and foie - to accompany our wine.  We sat together looking out the bay window of thier apartment to the rainy day outside and the poor folks walking with their umbrellas.  After almost finishing an entire bottle of wine, we moved onto the second part of the meal - a scrumptous salad.  Soon after came the homemade spaghetti sauce, complete with meatballs and big mushrooms!  It was all just too good and by the last bite it was almost impossible to be a clean plate ranger, but I managed to accomplish the feat.

When it came time to say bye, Joseba was the only one bidding adeiu, as I was staying over to have a girls-night slumber party!  While it sounds crazy, we were pretty stuffed and relaxed from the wine and pretty much just hit the hay soon after.  All in all, for a rainy day, we made the most of it!


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