Haraneko Borda, Itxassou, France
In the Pays Basque, adding Borda to the name of an eating establishment signifies a rustic country inn. In Euskera, borda means barn and the original Bordas were kitchens set up in underused barns, often with the cooking done over wood-fired braziers and guests served at long rows of tables, outdoors when weather permitted. Although no one is likely to confuse the the bright, modern dining room at Haraneko Borda with a barn, its kitchen does feature a wood fired grill and oven, the room is framed by ancient wood beams and on sunny days, tables are set up on the expansive deck looking over the green, rural valley of Itxassou.
The restaurant at Haraneko is actually part of an expansive organic farm called Ferme Heranea where owner Christian Aguerre raises the ancient race of Basque black hogs known as “cochon noir de kintoa”, rumored to produce the best pork in France, was well as fruits and vegetables including the sour cherries for which the valley of Itxassou has become known. Starting a restaurant on the property was a logical next step in the farm’s evolution, creating a a dining experience that the chef calls “zero kilometer local”, meaning that the majority of the ingredients come directly from the restaurants own farm. Ham and pork from kintoa hogs, corn for taloa (Basque corn pancakes), chickens, eggs, piment d’Espelette, fruits and vegetables all from the farm. Even the wine served, although not all produced within 1 kilometer, all comes from the Pays Basque.
The cooking at Haraneko matches the setting, being both rustic and accomplished, sophisticated but simple, the kind of food I love to discover and to eat.
When we visited for lunch during the week in early May 2019, reservations were easy to get and the menu prices very fair. However, that could change, as Borda Haraneko has been discovered, recently being named Best Farm-Auberge in France by Le Fooding.
Address: 3 Gerastoko Bidea, 64250 Itxassou, France
Tel: 05 59 15 09 68
Reservations: Recommended. Not busy outside the season but hours can be irregular