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(post, Kathleen Bauer)
Chinatown? Meh. Japantown? Been there. But a whole historic block dedicated to the Basque community of Boise? Now that piqued my interest. Especially when I found out that in addition to a museum, a community center and the oldest house in Boise that was also a Basque boarding house, the block also boasts a Basque market, two restaurants and a pub. And, though it's not Basque, on one corner is one of the only restaurant and distillery combinations in the country. You can see the attraction, no? The Basque Market was started by Dan Ansotegui, the brother of Chris at Epi's, who wanted to create a place where Basque people could buy ingredients unavailable at local grocery stores. It's also a Basque deli of sorts, where there are Basque tapas and wines, as well as sandwiches, soups and desserts to sample. Bar Gernika was also begun by Dan, who sold both businesses in the last couple of years to local folks committed to staying true to the Basque identity he had established. This small pub has a good selection of microbrews on tap, and many Basque regional specialties especially suited to pub grub like a slice of potato-egg tortilla, grilled chorizo sausage, some of those lovely croquetas and even a mini-paella. As you might expect, there are also Basque festivals scheduled throughout the year, such as the San Inazio Festival in July, Mortzilla Dinner in November featuring traditional Basque blood sausages and the Sheepherders Ball in December. And every five years there is an international Basque festival called Jaialdi that sounds like a don't-miss opportunity to experience this unique culture. So mark your calendars for July, 2010...I sure am!