Basque Food: Martin Hotel
One of the goals we have as we travel is to eat some foods that are original to certain cultures and have our family try some new things that we haven’t had in the past. While we were in Winnemucca we found out that the Basque culture is very prominent in parts of Nevada. I didn’t know a lot about the Basque culture but here is a little history from Winnemucca’s own official site.
“People of Basque heritage originate from four provinces in Northern Spain and three adjacent regions in France. The Basque Country includes the regions around the Bay of Biscay and the Pyrenees Mountains. The origins of the Basque people are not entirely known. They speak a very unique language called Euskera. The Basque people began to immigrate to the western United States around 1850, drawn by the California Gold Rush. Many of these immigrants soon turned to running livestock, and became a prominent presence in the western range sheep industry.”
There are a few Basque restaurants in Winnemucca. We went to the Hotel Martin which has been around since. I explained to the waitress that we didn’t know what to do and asked her for suggestions. She explained that Basque food is generally served family style. She suggested we order 2 main entrees and then the rest of the food will just come out prior to the entrees being served. The meal ended up being 7 courses and we were stuffed.
Clam Chowder: This was an overall crowd pleaser and probably everyone’s favorite dish ( except my own). It was extremely rich and creamy. It was the best clam chowder I have ever had. We wanted more but didn’t dare ask since the waitress said there was a ton of food coming out.
Salad and Beans: This was an iceberg lettuce based salad with some sort of vinaigrette. The beans were more savory and salty with flecks of ham. They were good on their own but our waitress said that the warm beans were to be served over the cold salad. We all thought that sounded weird but we tried it and most of us liked it. Marisa and I loved it and and I actually crave beans on my salads now.
Mashed Potatoes: I grew up in Idaho and I like my mashed potatoes thicker and heartier than most. These were definitely thicker and than some would like with bigger pieces mixed in with the mash. nothing really special or different about them but we thought they were really good. They might be too gummy for some.
Green Beans: Nothing special. Normal green beans. They might have been canned.
Beef Toungue: This was my favorite of the night. It was covered with a subtle brown gravy and cooked with peppers and onions. It literally melted in your mouth. Everyone tried it and most liked it even though they didn’t like the idea of eating tongue.
Fries: Fresh cut fries. These were really good.
Pork Chops: These were one of the two entrees we ordered and they weren’t very good. They were dry and lacked any kind of flavor. This was the one thing we ate that I didn’t think was very good.
Lamb Shank: This lamb was perfect. Cooked on the bone and fork tender. It had great spices and everyone loved it.
Bread Pudding: The bread pudding was OK. I make a copyat of Kneaders berry bread pudding that is so good that it would be hard to for any restaurant to live up to it.
Overall, the meal was very good. The experience was even better. we were able to try new foods and get a little taste of Basque Food. If I lived in Winnemucca I probably wouldn’t go to the restaurant a lot, but I would definitely take visitors there to experience something unique and different. Our family enjoyed the food and had a great experience.