In the comarca of Enkarterri, located in southeastern Biscay, you’ll find Balsameda, a town on the bank of the Kadagua River. Eating in Balsameda will give you the chance to try authentic Basque cuisine, so there’s nothing better than stopping at one of the bars or restaurants on a stroll through the town. Do you want to try putxera?
There’s plenty to eat in Balsameda, a town whose gastronomy reflects the culinary tradition of the comarca of Enkarterri. The cuisine of Balsameda is closely linked to local produce and livestock. The most popular meats are veal, which is usually grilled, and pork, which is used to make embutidos(cured sausages) and other products. There’s a strong presence of traditional Basque recipes in Balmaseda, so you’ll find dishes such as codfish al pil pil, potatoes with anchovies, and different kinds of bean stews. The region is also known for products like honey, cheese, and Txakoli de Vizcayawine.
If there’s one traditional dish that you should eat in Balsameda, it’s putxera, which has its roots in the stews made by train conductors working on the Bilbao-La Robla railroad line. They would cook in a metal pot heated by burning carbon which was placed in an opening in the bottom of the pot. Today, this dish made mainly of beans, bacon, chorizo, blood sausage, and pork chop is a true classic in the cuisine of Balmaseda, and it is still prepared in the traditional manner on particular days, including the holiday in honor of San Severino in October. The town’s Semana Santa(Holy Week) celebration featuring the Stations of the Cross is the perfect occasion to discover all that there is to eat in Balsameda.
If tapas bars are what you’re looking for, Balsameda is home to several establishments that specialize in pinchos and raciones, including:
Pintxo i Blanco—as the name suggests, you’ll love their pinchos. They also have an excellent wine selection and they’re known for their calamari. On the other side of town you’ll find El Rincón, where you can have some wine and pinchos and play a game of foosball.
There are numerous options for places to eat in Balsameda, and the restaurant in the hotel Convento San Roque is one of the most popular. They serve an interesting mix between the classic cuisine of Enkarterri and the most innovative techniques of contemporary cooking, all based on fresh, quality products that are locally-sourced. The restaurant also has spacious rooms where you can hold wedding receptions, communions, or any other type of event, whether it be personal or business-related.
Another place to keep in mind when it comes time to eat in Balsameda is the restaurant Los Gemelos, which serves traditional cuisine and offers daily and weekend prix fixe menus at fair prices. They also have special menus, including a putxera menu when the right season arrives.
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