Steak Heaven, aka Basque Country

When good steaks die, they go to Basque Country. I have had some of the most incredible hunks of meat in my time here.

Recent trip to one of my favorite cider houses finds us in the back, with the owner Demetrio, talking shop. There's the Basque wood-chopping semifinals on a small TV in the corner, with thwack-thwack and a low commentator's voice droning on in Basque in the background. Demetrio tells us that this was a particularly impressive cow that we are about to eat. The meat has been aging for about three weeks, Demetrio's preferred time. The room next door is the "secret" cider supply, which gets opened at Demetrio's discretion only. At the moment, this being November, the cider from this fall's apple harvest is still fermenting, too young to drink.  The back door of this room is open, letting in a draft and a view of the green hills surrounding the ciderhouse.

Back to the wooden tables, for the still-bleeding, salty charred piece of meat. Crusty bread and roasted chesnuts scatter the table. We pour more cold cider.