Dotted all over the Basque country, ‘sociedades gastronómicas’ (or ‘txokos’ as they are known in Euskera) provide a haven for amateur cooks to entertain guests without the hassle of hosting in their own home. Their kitchens are equipped with banquet-sized pots and pans, specialist cooking equipment, pantry essentials, wine cellars and even freezers full of ice cream! This weekend, my last one in San Sebastián, kicked off with a lovely dinner in a ‘sociedad gastronómica.’ I went along a little early to help with some of the preparations. The society’s name ‘Lagun Garbiak’ I found out literally means ‘clean friends’ encapsulating the ethos behind the societies and their reliance on trust and honesty. They are all about the food but also about creating a space in which you can relax with friends and feel at ease, an extension of your own living room!
Andoni, our host, who has organised a language exchange evening at the society throughout the year, put on a fantastic goodbye spread. We started with a salad of quinoa, tomato, sweetcorn, raisins, sunflower seeds, pine nuts and onion. We nibbled on tempura prawns and piquillo peppers stuffed with crab. We discovered unusual new flavours of sausage including spinach, Idiazabal cheese and my favourite, squid ink. Finally, for dessert we tucked into a chocolate fondant with strawberry ice cream. And it was all washed down with txakoli, wine, beer, coffee and liqueurs!
Thank you for a really fun evening and some great final memories to take away from San Sebastián!