St. Teresa's Basque Festival brings Basque culture to Carson City
It's always this time of year that I talk about a favorite event that Karen and I participate in: The St. Teresa of Avila Basque Festival on Sept. 21.
It's a challenge and fun to plan for this event, which showcases the Basque community's proud traditions and folklore in Nevada, especially Northern Nevada.
I truly enjoy the bi-weekly meetings held here at the restaurant and have developed some great friendships with my fellow committee members.
The event itself celebrates many traditions of the Basque country as portrayed by the students from the University of Nevada, Reno's Basque Studies Department.
They bring their dancing troupe and display the dance of the Pyrenees. There are Basque readings, wood chopping and a great display of dogs herding sheep and geese. There are many games for the children and a couple of card games that the members of the Douglas County Basque community conduct during the festivities, all of which are under the watchful eye of Jeanette Blanco.
There is a booth that supplies cookbooks (where I got this recipe I am sharing with you) offering both Spanish and French influences, Basque folklore, knickknacks, Spanish olive oil and a great wealth of products from the Basque country. There are many activities including a wonderful field mass performed by our pastor at St. Teresa, Father Chuck Durante.
This is truly a great family event. Tickets are reasonable and kids age 14 and under eat for free. Speaking of kids, under the watchful eye of Joe Lushina and his expert volunteers, we have a kids barbecue with hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad and chips. That is if the Basque-style of food is a little too rich for them.
The menu always provides three different preparations of Basque beans prepared by the Gardnerville Basque restaurants (Overland Hotel, JT's, and Country Club). Molly Gingell will be doing the Basque/Spanish-style rice, and for your enjoyment later you can purchase John Ascuaga's famous Basque sheepherders bread.
This is the 14th year that Mike Lemich, his family and friends from Ely will come and work magic on their open mahogany fire pit roasting lamb, chicken and turkey. Definitely magical, a show in itself.
This is also a chance to see our local judges performing their particular magic barbecuing the Basque-style chorizo sausages under the watchful eye of Andy MacKenzie. Karen and I oversee the whole operation as far as food goes. We let everyone else do their thing while Ralph Marrone and Dan (my evening sous chef) cook our famous lamb stew.
This year also marks a new addition to the event. It is a Basque slideshow from the memorable moments of past festivals and some personal shots from our video director, Helaine Jesse.
This is a new hat for Helaine, and I'm very excited about it. (However, this in no way will excuse her from her duties as salad czar.) The slideshow is done with the help of John Procaccini and his wonderfully talented people at the Brewery Arts Center, which is one of Carson City's great jewels.
If you get the idea that I have a lot of fun doing this, you are right. I recommend that you and your family join the fun. This type of family-oriented event is why, as I have said many times, people live in small towns. Visit our Web site for more information at www.basquefestival.org.
The event is more about celebrating Basque traditions, family and friends no matter what your religious background is. I have heard rumored that sharing a Picon Punch (an adult Nevada Basque tradition) is always a memorable experience.
So come and enjoy even if for no other reason than to say hello to one of Carson City's famous Basque citizens, John Borda.
This recipe I am sharing with you is from the great cookbook written by Darcy Williamson, Basque Cooking and Lore, published by The Caxton Printers, Ltd., Caldwell, Idaho, 1991.
Lamb Chops with
Tomatoes and Olives
6 lamb chops
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Spanish olive oil
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 pound vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1⁄2 cup Spanish olives, seeded and sliced
Season chops with salt and pepper; dredge with flour. Heal oil in heavy skillet until light haze forms. Add chops and cook 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Transfer to heated platter.
Pour wine into skillet and scrape up brown bits. Stir in tomatoes and olives. Cook over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon over chops.
With this great dish I would recommend you try a Spanish Rioja. Visit with our friends at Ben's Liquor, Divine Wine, Aloha Wine and Spirits and Bella Fiore Wines and see what they have in stock or recommend. There are many fine Rioja wines out there. As always enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!