Pentecost weekend: the festival of Axoa d’Espelette, the emblematic dish of the Basque Country
The Axoa Festival in Espelette takes place every year on Whit Sunday. If you’re staying at the campsite during this period, it’s an opportunity to feast on a specialty prepared with love: Axoa de Veau (pronounced achoa ). This dish, delicately spiced with Espelette pepper, has become a classic of Basque gastronomy. Discover it!
Axoa, a traditional Basque recipe
A rustic dish typical of the Basque region, Axoa is traditionally served on special occasions such as the Espelette Pimento Festival and the Pottok Fair.
During the Axoa Festival, it can be found on every restaurant menu in Espelette. As with many local dishes, each family has its own recipe, handed down from generation to generation.
Preparing a delicious Axoa couldn’t be easier! You’ll need veal from the shoulder, cut into small pieces, and Bayonne ham, simmered with one red bell pepper, one green bell pepper, two onions, a little garlic, butter and oil, not forgetting the famous Espelette pepper. After half an hour’s cooking, your Axoa is ready to enjoy. Served with rice or potatoes sautéed in duck fat, it’s a real treat!
The Axoa festival program
All day long, the streets of the village of Espelette are alive with festivities. The stands at the gastronomic fair are always packed, and the many events offer everyone, young and old, locals and tourists alike, the chance to soak up the richness and diversity of Basque culture.
The day begins at 9am with the Axoa de Veau competition organized by the Confrérie du piment d’Espelette and the Axoa de Veau. This will be followed by the opening of the Basque Country veal market. At 10 a.m., it’s time to find a seat for the solemn mass.
At 10:30 a.m., the brotherhoods will parade through the village streets before the Axoa competition awards ceremony and the induction of new brotherhoods.
At lunchtime, everyone is invited to share a big meal in the covered market. On the menu: garbure, piperade basquaise with Bayonne ham, Axoa of free-range veal with steamed potatoes, ewe’s milk cheese with black cherry jam and Basque cake to finish on a high note!
In the afternoon, the Makilaris from Itxassou will demonstrate their talent. Bandas and txaranga (brass bands) will follow to prolong the festivities. At 5:30 pm, don’t miss a concert by the Ezpeletan Kantuz men’s choir and the Auzotik women’s choir.
Focus on the local Herriko chain: guaranteed Basque origin!
To make a good Axoa, you need good meat… The Herriko brand (which means “from the country” in Basque) brings together breeders and producers from the Basque region who are keen to promote short, local supply chains.
Today, Herriko farm-raised calves are produced by around 250 breeders on small farms in the Basque Country, where the animals are born, raised, fattened without GMOs and slaughtered locally. In the Basque Country and Pyrénées-Atlantiques, over a hundred sales outlets (artisan butchers, restaurants, supermarkets and hypermarkets) are involved in this collective approach. If you pay attention to the origin of the products you consume, this information won’t go unnoticed!