We recently celebrated a milestone: the tenth gathering of our Basque Gastronomic Society, known as a txoko {choco}. Our guild was formed in September of 2010 in a backyard in North Austin, about as far away from the Basque Autonomous Community in Spain as you can get, yet we still strive for authenticity. The rules are simple. Women are not allowed to attend a txoko, and talk of politics and/or religion are taboo. These are the bylaws of any respectable, old-country Txoko and we follow these constructs with absolute rigidity.

Our group is small at 7 members, but each of the men labors greatly and strives to be the man of the match {winner of “best dish”} Here is the menu from our recent gathering along with the wine pairings:

We started things off with a cold beverage at arrival:

*Gueze – Lindeman’s Cuvee Renee

then moved onto one of the best, most garlicky soups I’ve ever eaten

*Baratxuri Salda – Garlic and Egg soup

*Ameztoi Txakolina 2010

followed by a dish that was like a bastard son of yom nua and the best French country tartare imaginable

*Pate Chaud + Thai Beef Tartare

*L’Opale de la Prequ’Ile de St. Tropez 2011

it wouldn’t be a Txoko without expertly grilled hunks of red meat

*Lamb and Fig Kabobs with Honey and Rosemary, Fluer de Sel

*Terredora Aglianico D’Irpinia 2010

I picked up some incredible goat sausage in Brady, Texas and passed it along to Txoko brother Tony who made

*Moroccan Stuffed Artichoke Hearts and Basil Leaf “Dolmas” with Poached
Garlic and Goat Sausage

*1er Prem President 08 Cab-Grenache

we always have at least one healthy component on the menu

*Baby Kale, Arugula, and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Shredded Rotisserie
Chicken and Asian Vinaigrette

*Heinz Eifel Shine Riesling 2010

I wanted to relive my days as a baker, one of the happiest eras of my life, by baking a cake

*Honey Crisp Apple Cake with Toasted Pecans and Piloncillo Glaze

*Tru Vanilla Vodka Drink # 1 – Cinnamon Caramel Apple

then we had dessert number 2, mind numbingly delicious

*Bananas Foster Chimichangas with Caramel Pecan Turtle Ice Cream

*Tru Vanilla Vodka Drink # 2 – Waikiki Hooker

That Waikiki Hooker just wiped me clean.

Each of the ten Txokos has had its own identity. There have been wild, free-for-all Txokos, where we blasted music and drank high-dollar wines straight out of the bottle, but this one was peaceful. As fate had it, it was the first cool night of the Summer and we all lounged on a gorgeous back patio with a big grill fire raging in preparation of firing the lamb. Two of the members were preparing to head to Basque country and another gentleman was preparing to go to Italy so travel dominated the conversation.

It’s my dream to one day visit Victor Arguinonziz and his restaurant in Axpe, the heart of Basque country, but til that day comes, and it will, I’ll be content to celebrate the old country foodway of Txoko, a Basque tradition that lives and breathes in Austin.

previous Txoko stories http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/Txoko-A-Basque-Tradition

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