The Basque Country, Gascony, and Hautes-Pyrénées Restaurants

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The Basque Country, Gascony, and Hautes-Pyrénées Restaurant Reviews

Dining in the regions of the Basque Country is invariably a feast, whether it's seafood, local lamb, or the famous migratory palombes (wood pigeons). Dishes to keep in mind include ttoro (hake stew), pipérade (tomatoes and green peppers cooked in olive oil, and often scrambled eggs), bakalao al pil-pil (cod cooked in oil "al pil-pil"—the bubbling sound the fish makes as it creates its own sauce), marmitako (tuna and potato stew), and zikiro (roast lamb). Home of the eponymous sauce béarnaise, Béarn is also famous for its garbure, thick vegetable soup with confit de canard (preserved duck) and fèves (broad beans).

Civets (stews) made with isard (wild goat) or wild boar are other specialties. La Bigorre and the Hautes-Pyrénées are equally dedicated to garbure, though they may call their version soupe paysanne bigourdane (Bigorran peasant soup) to distinguish it from that of their neighbors. The Basque Coast's traditional fresh seafood is unsurpassable every day of the week except Monday, the fleet having stayed in port on Sunday. The inland Basque Country and upland Béarn is famous for game in fall and winter and lamb in spring. In the Hautes-Pyrénées, the higher altitude makes power dining attractive and thick bean soups and wild-boar stews come into their own.

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