Tuesday, March 19, 2013
More from the Pays Basque
On the way to Saint Jean Pied de Port from Bordeaux, we had stopped in the town of Saint Etienne de Bigorri at La Cave Irouleguy, the wine cooperative of the Irouleguy appellation. It was another stop on our Appellation Spring, although it was technically still winter. Irouleguy is one of the smallest French AOC's, and is known for its rich red wines based on the Tannat grape, although there is also some rosé and white Irouleguy wine. The wines at the cooperative were excellent, and we picked up a couple of rosés and reds (they were sold out of their white wines, but I managed to find some later at a small grocery store in Saint Jean Pied de Port). While driving through Saint Etienne de Bigorri we stumbled upon a small farm that produced Ossau-Iraty cheese (Ossau-Iraty is also an AOC) from their sheep and chorizo from their pigs, and we bought some of each.
On Sunday we drove to Biarritz on the coast to check out their indoor market, which had been temporarily moved from the center of town to the outskirts, so we never got the chance to wander through the center of Biarritz, which we were told was worth seeing. Somehow we managed to find the market, and filled up our sacks with provisions. We drove a bit through the coastal towns, but it was raining, so we didn't make any stops or take any pictures.
Monday was market day in Saint Jean Pied de Port, so we spent a good part of the morning checking out the vendors. We bought some Ossau-Iraty from a couple of producers, as well as foie gras, cured duck breast (basically duck prosciutto), ground piment d'espelette (a special Basque red pepper that also has an AOC), and vegetables. That afternoon I spent a lot of time walking through the town while Ann finished off some work that she had brought with her.
I also took a walk to the nearby village of Ispoure which has a magificent church surrounded by vineyards overlooking the valley below. In Ispoure I stopped at an Irouleguy wine producer in the village, Domaine Mourguy, where I bought a bottle of their excellent 2010 red Irouleguy.