Let the games begin. The season of the sagardotegi (sah-gar-doe-TEG-ee) has begun and this year we had the pleasure of making our first trip to the sagardotegi (cider house in Basque) with some of my friends from Ibermatica. It is really sweet that they still remember me and invite me out with them. The excuse to celebrate was the new job of Antxon (AHN choan) Alonso Lopez a programmer and abused grunt at Ibermatica. He’s free now and seems to be having a ball. He’s finally thrown off the yoke of the Ibermatica feudal system and struck out on his own. It’s a small Internet service provider start up and with Antxon on the job things are off on the right foot.

It’s funny but it feels kinda like I haven’t left the Bay Area (of San Francisco). Here I am 9000 miles from Multimedia Gulch and I’m talking about Internet startups… The Internet is everywhere folks.

<strong>Antxon</strong>: Perl programmer turned crazy cider drinking fiend.

Antxon: Perl programmer turned crazy cider drinking fiend.

So the sagardotegi is a wonderful time. In the sagardotegi is where grown drunk men will grab the back of your neck (affectionately) and sing to you. Hehe, it happened to me. I could only stand there thinking, “I’ve got to put this on the web page. The sagardotegi, a place where strange drunk men will grab your neck and sing to you.” Incidently they like to grab your ears too. There’s something about ears here. I haven’t quite figured it out yet

A cider house is pretty much just that, some guy’s apple farm, a house. They grow the apples, press them in this huge basement, and then invite people in as if it was a restaurant, except with 10 huge 5000 gallon barrels of great fermented cider. The funny part is that they almost literally throw food at you. You pay $25, for all you can eat, all you can drink, all the mess you can make… akin to some barbaric middle ages movie where there’s a roasted pig, mountains of food, and drink. Hombre, what a time.

<strong>The Cider</strong>, crowding for a bit of that sweet nectar.

The Cider, crowding for a bit of that sweet nectar.

The cider runs from taps in the kegs, shooting out from about eye level. The custom is to put your glass as close to the floor as possible, one: to let the cider breath, and two: to show how studly and awesome you are. I tried both, and I don’t notice a difference, so it’s probably just to show how cool you are. The floors are covered with cider as of course it spills, and the people are covered with it because, some of them are not as dexterous as others, and of course you can’t tell who is who, because “are you a mess because you’re a dork, or are you a mess because your buddy is a dork?” Ah, but those are questions better left to the philosophers.

Que mas?

So we ate some succulent barbecued veal (funny thing about veal, here veal is a pampered cow, fed the best stuff, babied like a pet, rather than tied up the way it is portrayed in the US. Also, a veal cow is a mature cow, a couch potato (patata here) cow, kinda like it ate nothing but Cheetos and drank beer it’s whole life (watch out UG they’re coming for you)). So, we had some of that and some bacalao in green sauce, as we stuffed out faces with this awesome french bread (actually it’s Spanish, but it’s just water yeast, and salt so it’s what we would call french bread).

We are looking to go a few more times this year.