You gotta try this bean stew

The Urdaibai Bird Center was a good choice we made somewhat in the dark when we booked our travels in Basque Country. I’m literally struggling to write this post because I’m distracted by some sheep farting around in the wetlands amongst the birds. Last night there were horses playing, stretching, and doing what I can best describe as horse yoga from the window of the bird observatory. I watched a colony of Eurasian spoonbills (in Spanish, Espátula; yes, the kitchen tool) put themselves to sleep last night, and then wake up this morning. We also spotted some cattle egrets grooming and preening in the water yesterday. It’s truly an enchanting place to say.

But I gotta talk beans for a minute.

Yesterday we ate late-lunch-early-dinner at Lezika, a farmhouse and restaurant in nearby Kortezubi known for its bean stew called Alubiada de Gernika con sus sacramentos. I really hope there’s a Basque restaurant in Sacramento, CA that serves these because then they could called it Alubiada de Guernica con sacramentos de Sacramento. The menu says simply: Menú Alubiada: Bean menu. The description: Tocino, morcilla, costilla, chorizo y guindillas extra. Bacon, black pudding, ribs, chorizo and chiles. I’m here to tell you this combination is as fantastic as it is straightforward.

Sorry, I just got distracted watching some gulls circle a small island in what I assume is their morning stretches.

These ingredients are stewed together and served in a large ceramic bowl, far more than the two of us could eat together.

Hang on there’s a bird on a platform nest and I must look at it through the telescope.

Wow, it was a gull, but while I was trying to find it, I found a coot giving itself a bath. Then of course I had to check in on the spoonbills again — still sleeping.

Anyway: The beans. This giant bowl of protein was delicious. It wasn’t overly salty given how much cured meat was in the broth, and the ribs were small enough that you could handle them easily without choking on a bone. The meat fell away under the smallest amount of pressure from a spoon. The chorizo added a delicate amount of spice and texture and made this an exciting bowl of beans.

The beans themselves were large red beans, similar to the kind you might use in a chili, though my cursory breakfast research suggests you must travel to Gernika to find exactly the right ones. The broth was clearly the product of those beans cooking from raw for a long time. It reminded me a little of a very bean-forward Hungarian gulyas or a deeper, earthier booya.

You can find recipes for it online (this one seems pretty straightforward but I’m not much of a Spanish reader or speaker). I guess it’s probably better for you to just come over here and eat some for yourself.

Hang on one sec, the sheep are on the move and a coot sounds angry.

After we walked off our meal a bit, we headed to Laida Beach. We got there before the tide came in and could almost find a path across to the other side of the estuary on foot. It would not take much swimming, at least. We left around high tide, at which point the sea had flooded the rivers and fully covered the estuary with seawater.

More later, I gotta go look at some birds with László!





One response to “You gotta try this bean stew”

  1. Enfys Avatar

    Very much enjoying the travelogue, and this post in particular is a delight.