'TXOTX' Ritual Cider Dinner at SER
Every January to April, cider season is celebrated (in the best possible way) in Spain's Basque country. Nestled in the hills of San Sebastián are Sagardotegias also known as Cider Houses where cider producers celebrate their harvest with lively and interactive dinners. Guests convene in cavernous rooms filled with chestnut wood barrels while enjoying a menu of traditional dishes such as chorizo cooked in cider, salt-cod omelette, fresh cod fried with peppers, char grilled t-bone steaks, walnuts and Idiazábal sheep's cheese, and of course, unlimited cider. Throughout the night, 'Txotx' (pronounced 'Choch') which in Basque means 'break out the cider' is said out loud signaling invitees to grab their glasses, head to the barrels where a long stream of golden-colored cider (this actually aerates the apple-based drink) is released and guests try to catch it in their glass.
I, along with other bloggers, recently had the opportunity to experience the Txotx Ritual Dinner at SER, the Spanish eatery in Ballston and let's just say it did not disappoint! The culinary event took place at probably the cutest place in the restaurant, the coveted SER counter. With six mustard-colored leather seats and an incredible view into the bustling kitchen, we started off with a refreshing glass of cidre fizz, SER's Co-Owner Javier Candon's concoction.
As we sat down, we were greeted by San Sebastián native Executive Chef and Co-Owner Josu Zubikarai who treated us to nostalgic stories about how he, as a teenager, experienced the ritual with his father and grandfather. And for the next three hours, we indulged in a sumptuous and a typical 4-course cider house meal accompanied by an infinite amount of Urbitarte cider. Throughout the night, Chef Zubikarai would say 'Txotx' and each of us would take turns to master (or at least attempt) the long stream cider pour (which elicited many oohs and aaahs from the group) into our respective glasses because the goal is to get the cider into your glass rather than the floor ;-) At first taste, the cider has a hint of minerality but after a few glasses, it becomes so refreshing and good that you'll drink it like water.
In order to get the total effect of this unique dining adventure, join me on this pictorial tour.
The coveted SER counter where the 'Txotx' Ritual Dinner took place.
Co-Owner Javier Candon's take on a Gin Fizz, but in keeping with the theme of the night, I present to you the Cidre Fizz. This is not on the menu, but if you are intersted, be sure to ask Javier.
The traditional Urbitarte Cider that I became very familiar with and enjoyed the entire night.
Txotx! Chef Zubikarai showing the group the proper way to long stream pour the cider.
Melt-in-your-mouth Croquetas de Pollo. These literally were the creamiest croquetas I have ever had in my life.
Chorizo Cooked In Cider - Heaven. Pure heaven. I must have had three or four of these little tasty bites.
Tortilla de Patatas - Forkfuls of this egg and potato omelette left me wanting more. It was delicate and delectable.
Bacalao Asado con Pimientos - Roasted cod with shishito and roasted red peppers was not only pretty but delicious in taste.
Rib-Eye Bone-In Steaks - I have to admit, this was my favorite dish of the entire night. The almost rare meat, don't fret, if you prefer it to be a little more cooked, which is what I did, Chef Zubikarai will put it back in the oven and it was still incredibly tender and flavored perfectly with maldon sea salt.
Idiazabal Cheese with Quince and Walnuts - Typically you take a slice of the farmhouse hard cheese made from sheep's milk and top it with quince and walnuts. Together this savory/sweet dessert will wow your palate.
Such a fun way to enjoy cider, right?!
Starting Wednesday, July 22nd (and every Wednesday after that until the end of August), you too can experience the Txotx Ritual Dinner at SER. Priced at $80 per person ( all inclusive) you'll enjoy a night of laughter, a mouthwatering cider dinner and limitless glasses of Urbitarte cider! Get your tickets HERE. Don't wait too long, because the dinners are only available for groups of up to six and seats will undoubtedly fill up fast.