The cider houses that make their own cider are known as TOLARES (Tolare sagardotegiak) and are indicated as such at their entrances.
The season starts in mid-January and ends in May. This is when the cider maker, to the cry of TXOTX, invites us to taste the cider (sagardoa) directly from the barrels (kupelas).
TXOTX began as a private tasting between buyers, restauranteurs, gastronomic societies, traders and the cider maker (sagardogile). Taking something to eat along with them (ribs, bone-in ribeye steaks, etc.), these people would head for the cider houses to taste and make their choice from the different barrels.
With time, the cider houses (sagardotegiak) modernised their kitchens and added charcoal grills to invite wider participation. Today they are part of a hugely celebrated gastronomic event running throughout the winter and springtime in the Basque Country. The classic cider house menu is salt cod omelette, fried salt cod with peppers and the charcoal-grilled Basque bone-in ribeye steak (the 1kg TXULETA). For dessert, cheese and local walnuts.