Basque cider has about as much in common with Angry Orchard as Belgian farmhouse ales have with Bud Light. Though the honey-hued hooch is made from apples, it has only a hint of sweetness, a slight fizz and a lingering sour funk. You can buy Basque ciders at the Basque Market year round, but you can also get an authentic Basque cider house, or sagardotegi, experience every fall at Boise's Basque Center. The annual event features a façade made to look like wooden barrels with two spouts streaming Bereziartua Basque cider and classic sagardotegi dishes like Tortilla de Bacalao, salt cod omelets, and Txuleton, rare slices of tender steak.
Mention plans to visit Basque country and someone will inevitably say, "You have to try the pintxos," bite-sized Basque bar snacks similar to tapas. It's true, any trip to that region would be incomplete without a taste of these small-plate treats. Thankfully, Boise's Basque Market offers pintxos (PEEN-chos) a little closer to home.
Unlike tapas, pintxos are usually speared on a toothpick—pintxo comes from "pincho," the Spanish word for "spike." The Basque Market's pintxo prices range from $2-$5, with different colored toothpicks correlating to different prices. When you're done, you pay by the toothpick—similar to dim sum or kaiten-zushi. The Basque Market always has beroak (hot) and hotzak (cold) pintxos, as well as otarteko (little sandwiches) on the menu. Pintxo options range from croquetas to meatballs to Spanish tortilla to the market's to-die-for house-marinated green olives and fried Marcona almonds. On engin! (Have a nice meal!)
Boise was a bit late to the hard-cider game, but the City of Trees is quickly becoming the City of Cider with two new craft cideries opening in 2015.
Chris Blanchard and wife Carol Crosswhite launched Longdrop Cider Co. at the Crooked Flats compound in Eagle this March. Longdrop's ciders are made from a blend of granny smith, golden delicious, red delicious, fuji and gala apples sourced from the Yakima Valley. The cidery's initial offerings include a semi-sweet, a semi-dry and a rotating seasonal cider.
The Leadbetter family—comprised of parents Gig and Ann, and daughters Kate and Molly—plan to open Leadbetter Cider Co. in summer 2015 in the same Garden City business complex as Crooked Fence. Leadbetter will source its juice from Washington and release five initial flavors: Sidewinder Semi-Dry, Cherry, Ginger Root, Hop Shot and Strong Arm Semi-Sweet.