Current obsession…the Basque Country…comprised of the North of Spain and the South of France.  It encompasses 8000 square miles of varied terrain, with 140 miles of coastline, divided into 7 provinces, with its very own language: Euskara.  I received (a requested) cookbook for Christmas this past year, Basque Country: A Culinary Journey Through a Food Lover’s Paradise by Marti Buckley.  When I open it, no matter what the page, I feel as if I’ve gone on holiday…no joke.  I must experience this place first hand…

Until that day, I shall transport my spirit through the food of the region.  Upon scanning the book, I happened upon the recipe for Xipister, an herb-pepper vinegar sauce from the French side of the Basque Country.  It’s an exuberant mix of herbs and staples like garlic, anchovies (sorry vegetarians), and ground Espelette pepper resembling a Basque pantry dump.  The French Basques keep a jar of Xipister handy at all times for dressing salads, fish and especially grilled foods.

Although it doesn’t have fabulous visual appeal, the complex, layered flavors of this vinaigrette are wonderful.  As made by following the recipe, it’s a bit spicy for ordinary use (in our house).  In the future, I will leave out the chile for a more universally appealing sauce.
So delicious.  Kept in a cool, dry place it will keep for up to 3 months.


  • 1 small mild to medium-hot chile, fresh or dried
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig sage
  • ½ c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ c apple cider vinegar
  • 3 salt-cured anchovies
  • 1 tsp Espelette pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ⅛ tsp kosher salt


  1. Preheat oven to 200.
  2. Place the chile, thyme, rosemary and sage on a baking sheet and heat in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to bring out their flavors.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the olive oil, vinegar, anchovies, Espelette pepper, bay leaf, garlic and salt.
  4. Heat over medium-low heat until warmed to just above room temperature.
  5. Add the chile and herbs.  Transfer the entire mixture to a storage bottle.  Close and shake well.  Set aside in a cool, dark place to infuse for 2 weeks.
  6. Shake well before using,  The Xipister will keep in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.

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