Category: Awards (page 1 of 2)

Major food awards to be held in Bilbao in 2018

It has just been announced that the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, considered by many to be the Oscars of global gastronomy, will be held in Bilbao in June 2018.  Quoting the host organization:

Spain’s Basque Country has long been known as one of the most gastronomically blessed regions of the world, with the highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants per capita and a strong and enduring representation of restaurants in the 50 Best list. With everything from fine dining to abundant pintxos, it’s the ideal next location for the biggest culinary party on the planet.

The announcement was made at Basque chef Eneko Atxa’s London restaurant Eneko At One Aldwych.

These prestigious awards, which were held annually in London for 13 years before expanding globally to New York in 2016 and Melbourne this year, will thus make their third international port of call in the capital of Bizkaia, thanks to the generous support of the Bizkaiko Foru Aldundia-Diputación Foral de Bizkaia (the Provincial Government of Bizkaia), and we’re sure Basques will be ready for the party!

Read more about the choice of Bilbao as the host venue here.

Prestigious award for great friend of the Center

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As part of the ongoing celebrations held in conjunction with the unique experience that is the annual Durangoko Azoka, the Basque Book and Record Fair held in Durango, Bizkaia, the  prestigious Argizaiola Award is presented to people who, in the bleakest of moments, have managed to bring light and warmth to Basque culture; to keep the culture going, in other words, when the chips are down. In 2013, for example, our very own Bill Douglass received the award.

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Five of the recipients of the 2016 Argizaiola Award, L to R: jaime Albillos Arnaiz, Kepa Mendia Landa, Carmen Belaza, Jose Ramon Zengotitabengoa, and Justo Alberdi Artetxe. Image taken from the Durangoko Azoka website.

This year, the award has been given to six people to represent the hundreds of individuals who have over the years carried out inurri-lana (literally “ant work”) in favor of Basque culture. In sum, this is public recognition for the often overlooked tireless efforts, long hours, and great personal investment of so many people to keep Basque culture alive and thriving. The six individuals were chosen to represent specific geographical areas – five in the Basque Country itself: Kepa Mendia Landa (Araba),  Justo Alberdi Artetxe (Bizkaia), Jaime Albillos Arnaiz (Gipuzkoa), Patxika Erramuzpe (Iparralde), and Carmen Belaza (Nafarroa); and one to represent the Basque Diaspora: our great friend Jose Ramon Zengotitabengoa, whose son Sam now represents the family on the Center’s Advisory Board.

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Examples of an argizaiola, or “board of wax,” a kind of coiled ornamental candle. In many traditional cultures,  any light-giving source, anything to keep darkness at bay, holds a special place in the human imagination. Photo by Juan San Martin, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Jose Ramon, a Bizkaian born in Zaldibar in 1938 and raised in the  Durango district, has certainly had an eventful life involving much traveling. At age fifteen he left home to pursue his studies. He went to university in Liège, Belgium, for five years before moving to England, where he lived and worked for nine years, followed by a two-year stay in Germany. Eventually, he moved to the United States, where he enjoyed a successful thirty-five-year business career in Chicago as well as raising a family before retirement. Through his and others’ efforts, the Society for Basque Studies in America was established, which served as a catalyst for numerous academic initiatives to promote and study Basque culture in the US. He also played a prominent role in establishing Nestor Basterretxea’s Basque Sheepherders’ Monument in Reno and served on the Center’s advisory board for many years.

Zorionak, Jose Ramon, and all the other “ants” who have done so much for Basque culture over the years!

 

Naiara de la Puente – A Basque at the Latin Grammy Awards

The Latin Grammy Awards will be held tonight, November 17, in Los Angeles, and this year the accordionist Naiara de la Puente, a native of the capital Vitoria-Gasteiz, is up for the Best Latin Children’s Album award, thanks to her collaboration on Canciones y Palabras, organized by Veleta Roja Editions.

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De la Puente is quite an accomplished musician. She holds a degree in Accordion Pedagogy from Musikene (the Conservatory of the Basque Country) as well as a Master’s in Music from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and she undertook a graduate course at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. She is currently pursuing her PhD at the Sibelius Academy. She has won awards at the Certamen Nacional de Arrasate, the V Concurso Instrumental Sant Anastasi, the Grand Prix de Andorra, and the Certamen Internacional Jóvenes Intérpretes Pedro Bote. Alongside her solo performances, she is a member of the Krater and SMASH Ensembles.

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The album Canciones y Palabras is based on 10 poems by Cuban writer Aldo Méndez. The format is more than just a recording: it includes an illustrated book that contains each of the songs and poems alongside activities designed to spark youngsters’ musical creativity. Carlos Cano and Henrán Milla, both professors at the Marcos Redondo Conservatory in Ciudad Real, were in charge of putting together the project and making the poems into music, while Inés Vilpi illustrated the book. Dozens of musicians are present in the project. Overall, the album represents a greater collaboration between musicians and artists and we wish them luck, zorte on!

For more information on Naiara de la Puente, please visit her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/naiaradelapuenteaccordionist/

EITB has a short video up (in Spanish) about Naiara and the album, available at: http://www.eitb.eus/es/cultura/videos/detalle/4488045/video-la-vitoriana-naiara-puente-nominada-premios-grammy/

Lastly, be sure to visit Veleta Roja’s website: http://www.veletaroja.org/#

 

Say Cheese!

The prestigious International Cheese Festival starts tomorrow, November 16,  in Donostia-San Sebastián and runs until November 18. The Artzai Gazta association, an organization comprised of 110 local small-scale craft producers, played a central role in bringing the festival to the Basque Country. The festival is seen as both a platform to showcase Basque products and a forum to exchange knowledge with other small-scale cheese producers from all over the world. Moreover, at the festival the World Cheese Awards organization will be awarding prizes to its 2016 winners. You can even follow the prize-giving via live online steaming. Check out the details here.

Check out the full program for the festival here.

Three Basque producers make 2016 Winners List in Great Taste Awards

The Great Taste Awards, organized by the Guild of Fine Food, is the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink and has been described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world. In 2016 over 400 judges, including specially trained food writers inputting judges’ comments, came together at 49 judging days from March through early July. The judges, from all corners of the food world, blind-taste in teams of 3 or 4 ensuring they get a balance of expertise, age, and gender.

Over 10,000 products were entered for the 2016 awards, with only 141 foods achieving the highest and most coveted rating, three stars; 878 foods received 2 stars and 2,520 were awarded a 1-star rating. That means only 35% of entries were accredited.The Golden Forks (the big winners) will be announced at a celebration dinner at the Royal Garden Hotel, London on the September 5.

In the sheep’s cheese category, there were 21 awards, 3 of which (including the only 3-star rating) went to Basque producers.

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The famed Idiazabal cheese. Photo by Xavigivax, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The coveted 3-star rating was awarded to the smoked Idiazabal sheeps’ milk cheese of the Mausitxa baserri in Elgoibar, Gipuzkoa.  This means that it made the prestigious top 50 foods list, which for the organizers “quite simply are the best fifty foods in the world each year.” As regards the Mausitxa smoked Idiazabal, in the judges opinion, “Although smoky on the nose and in the mouth, the flavour of the cheese is never overpowered and those who try it will be rewarded with a fresh, crumbly and slightly sweet finish.” Mausitxa also received a 2-star rating for its regular Idiazabal sheeps’ milk cheese.

The La Leze baserri in Ilarduia, Araba, received 2-star ratings for both its normal and its smoked Idiazabal sheeps’ milk cheeses, while the Etxetxipia baserri in Elizondo, Nafarroa was awarded a 2-star rating for its regular sheeps’ milk cheese.

Check out the Basque sheeps’ milk association here. What’s more, if you haven’t yet done so, you can download Hasier Etxeberria’s great introduction to Basque gastronomy, On Basque Cuisine, free here.

Basque pig gets prized AOC status in France

Last week the revered appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), or “controlled designation of origin” status in France, was awarded to the Basque black pig breed, from which Kintoa pork (named after a valley in the Aldude area of Lower Navarre) comes. The decision marked a fifteen-year long struggle on the part of pig farmers in Iparralde to gain recognition for the quality of the pork associated with the Kintoa breed, pigs that are still raised on small-scale family farms.

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Basque pigs in Ureple, Aldude Valley, Lower Navarre. Photo by O. Morand, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In the 1990s the Kintoa breeders’ association that has been lobbying for the designation since 2001 had less than a dozen members, a figure that rose to around 30 at the turn of the century, and now stands at around 80.  A Kintoa pork festival has already been planned for October 2017 in honor of this major recognition, and the award will enable producers to preserve the breed and market their pork more easily at the European level as well as ensuring a level of quality and control for consumers.

Read more on this (in French) in Sud-Ouest here and (in Basque) in Gara here.

For more information on the Basque pig, check out this introductory explanation here at the site of renowned breeder and butcher Pierre Oteiza.

Prominent Basque presence among latest list of world’s top restaurants

Restaurant Magazine has just published its influential annual listing of the world’s best restaurants, among which the Basque presence is as strong as ever.

Two Basque restaurants feature in the Top 10 list:

At #7 is Mugaritz, in Errenteria, Gipuzkoa, run by Andoni Aduriz, “the natural heir,” in the opinion of Restaurant Magazine, “to the title of Spain’s most pioneering chef after Ferran Adrià.” See the magazine’s full description here.

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Entrance to Mugaritz. Photo by Krista, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

And coming in at #10 is Asador Etxebarri, in Atxondo, Bizkaia, run by Victor Arguinzoniz, who “taught himself to cook and built his own kitchen full of manual grilling contraptions using multiple types of wood. Known for his devotion to the barbecue, he is rarely seen out of the kitchen.” See the magazine’s full description here.

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Steak at Etxebarri. Photo by Krista, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

At #16 is Azurmendi in Larrabetzu, Bizkaia, run by Eneko Atxa, followed by Juan Mari Arzak and Elena Arzak’s emblematic Arzak in Donostia at #21, Nerua, in Bilbao, run by Josean Alija, at #59, and Martin Berasategui’s eponymous restaurant in Lasarte-Oria, Gipuzkoa., at #59. 

If that were not enough to demonstrate just how much Basques punch above their weight when it comes to world-class cuisine, two other Basque-run restaurants outside the Basque Country also made the top 100 list: Biko, in Mexico City, run by Mikel Alonso and Bruno Oteiza, at #43; and  Le Chateubriand, in Paris, run by Iñaki Azpitarte, at #74.

Check out the full list here.

For a general introduction to Basque food, check out Hasier Etxeberria’s On Basque Cuisine, available free to download, courtesy of the Etxepare Basque Institute, here.

Zulaika book reviewed in El País

December 10: Joseba Zulaika’s Euskadi Prize-winning Vieja luna de Bilbao. Crónicas de mi generación  was reviewed by Mercè Ibarz for the Catalonia edition of El País.

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Ibarz underscores the work’s expressive and compositional freedom. “It is a book, she continues, “of memories and at the same time an urban psycho-geography of the sustained collective longing to change life and transform the city that reads like a novel; an essay constructed from all kinds of materials from intrahistory and from culture, the highest and the lowest; a story that gives voice to hundreds of Bilbao people that Zulaika has interviewed over twenty years as both ethnographer and the observer-participant he is in all this.”

See the full review (in Spanish) here.

And check out the English version of the book, That Old Bilbao Moon: The Passion and Resurrection of a City.

Joseba Zulaika receives Euskadi Prize

November 19: We are so proud to share the news that Joseba Zulaika received the Euskadi Prize for an Essay in Spanish at the Europa Conference and Exhibition Center in Vitoria-Gasteiz for his Vieja luna de Bilbao. Crónicas de mi generación.

Joseba was awarded the prize by Cristina Uriarte, the Basque Government Minister for Education, Linguistic Policy, and Culture in a ceremony that also included the prizewinners in several other of this year’s categories: Literature in Spanish (Martín Olmos, Escrito en negro), Children’s and Young Adult Literature in Basque (Yolanda Arrieta, Argiaren alaba),  Literary Translation into Basque (Juan Garzia Garmendia, Sonetoak, by William Shakespeare), Illustration in a Literary Work (Ana G. Lartitegui, El libro de la suerte), and Essay in Basque (Joxe Azurmendi, Historia. Arraza. Nazioa).

Listen to Joseba speak about the work (in Spanish) on Radio Euskadi (at approximately 5 minutes 30 seconds) here.

Check out the English language version of Joseba’s book: That Old Bilbao Moon: The Passion and Resurrection of a City.

Zorionak Joseba from everyone at the Center!

 

Basque Group Wins US Music Award

The November 2015 Akademia Music Award for best album in the dance/electronica category has gone to Gose (Hunger), a three-piece trikitixa/techno/punk group from Arrasate-Mondragón, Gipuzkoa, with Ines Osinaga on vocals and trikitixa (the two-row diatonic accordion, also spelled trikitia or trikitrixa), Iñaki Bengoa on percussion and programming, and Osoron on guitar and bass. The award is for the album, Gose IIIII, and in the words of Akademia,”Demonstrating uncommon compositional skill and versatility, Gose has created an impressive collection of diverse and original dance electronica grooves.”

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Gose in action. Photo by Saioa Cabañas, at Flickr.

Since its formation in 2004, Gose has been pushing the boundaries of the traditional trikitixa sound in Basque music. The group also incorporates elements of electro-jazz, Argentinian tango, and Brazilian percussion into its repertoire and is a firm favorite on the live Basque music scene with its highly charged performances. Check out videos by the band for the songs “Naizena izateko” (To be who I am) and “Hey Boy!!

Zorionak Gose!

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