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La Rioja + The Basque Country


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#1 Anthony Bonner

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 01:17 PM

Thanks to Delta's generosity we are headed to Spain again in October. Unfortunately because of the evil Swiss conglomerate my girlfriend works for we could only get away for 5 days. Our initial plan was to rent a car in Madrid, drive to Haro - spend a day and a half there, and then head to Bilbao for the night and spend the rest of trip exploring the countryside before heading to San Sebastian for a night and then driving back to Madrid.

My questions - If anyone has done this does our plan sound like packing too much into a small amount of time? If no, beside LdH which other of the Rioja producers is it worth visiting ?

If you think I'm crazy our other options are cheap flights to Bilbao (where we will basically follow the same plan ex-La Rioja) or a flight to La Coruna - so I'm wondering if anyone here has done Galicia before.

I've been to Bilbao and San Sebastian a few times (Bilbao mostly for work though) but I have never been to Galicia.

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#2 LML

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 02:16 PM

QUOTE(Anthony Bonner @ Sep 2 2009, 03:17 PM) View Post
Thanks to Delta's generosity we are headed to Spain again in October. Unfortunately because of the evil Swiss conglomerate my girlfriend works for we could only get away for 5 days. Our initial plan was to rent a car in Madrid, drive to Haro - spend a day and a half there, and then head to Bilbao for the night and spend the rest of trip exploring the countryside before heading to San Sebastian for a night and then driving back to Madrid.

My questions - If anyone has done this does our plan sound like packing too much into a small amount of time? If no, beside LdH which other of the Rioja producers is it worth visiting ?

If you think I'm crazy our other options are cheap flights to Bilbao (where we will basically follow the same plan ex-La Rioja) or a flight to La Coruna - so I'm wondering if anyone here has done Galicia before.

I've been to Bilbao and San Sebastian a few times (Bilbao mostly for work though) but I have never been to Galicia.


If I were you, I'd either fly to Bilbao and go directly to La Rioja; in other words, forget the Basque country except La Rioja Alavesa, or go to Galicia.

Haro is a little over an hour's easy driving from Bilbao airport, and is an excellent base for La Rioja. La Rioja is a small province and as such is easy to get around. In five days you could do a lot with a minimum of driving.

Galicia is wonderful too. Going south from A Coruña will take you to the Rias Baixas, and, in less than two hours, Portugal.

Both destinations have excellent food and wine. Although as far as weather is concerned La Rioja is a much safer bet. Also, Haro has the greatest concentration of wineries in the world, so you're not limited to R. López de Heredia Viña Todonia.

Since it would be an understatement to say that I'm familiar with La Rioja, I'll be happy to give you any advice should you choose this as your destination.
A dress is neither a tragedy nor a painting it is a charming and ephemeral creation, not an everlasting work of art. Fashion should die and die quickly in order that commerce may survive.


Food or frock?

#3 Anthony Bonner

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 03:09 AM

We decided on Galicia. Now to begin researching that.

"This is a battle of who blinks first, and we've cut off our eyelids"


#4 rohandaft

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 07:56 PM

QUOTE(Anthony Bonner @ Sep 3 2009, 04:09 AM) View Post
We decided on Galicia. Now to begin researching that.


I was going to suggest oft overlooked Navarra.
Anyway, Galicia...
There's always very good and not expensive fish to be had at the bars and restaurants attached to the lonjas (fish markets/auctions) at all the ports - unlike the UK (not sure about the States), Spanish fishermen eat fish.
Going a little more upmarket, La Oca in Pontevedra is good, especially if lamprey is in season.
Good cheese too.

#5 Rail Paul

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 09:54 PM

Extensive article about the "Basque coast" in today's New York Times.

QUOTE
So it was one evening this June, when my partner, Ian, and I, traveling with our 5-month-old daughter, Orli, arrived (too early at 9:45 p.m.!) at the portside restaurant Kaia for a dinner of freshly caught hake, grilled and crispy with just a touch of garlic and lemon, washed down with a bottle of cold Txakoli, the young white wine of the Basque region. Passersby called out to one another — “Agur!” (“Goodbye!”) or “Kaixo!” (“Hello!”) — nearly all conversing in Euskera, the Basque language, with the occasional smattering of Spanish “Buenas ...!”

Groups of twos and threes — families, teenagers, 20-somethings — began to pass our table, laughing and rushing toward the beach. We looked twice, three times, because nearly every other person was wearing a witch’s hat, tall and conical, some flimsy, some remarkably sturdy, all heading toward a bonfire that by dinner’s end had grown to a dramatic height, burning what appeared to be a devil in effigy in its midst.

We had stumbled on Lekeitio (pronounced leh-KAY-tee-oh) in the midst of the festival of San Juan Eguna (St. John the Baptist), a solstice celebration that also commemorates the witch burnings of the 17th century that took place in País Vasco — Basque Country in Spanish — up to Le Pays Basque — its French counterpart. Throughout the year, centuries-old Basque fiestas, named for patron saints, take place along the coast and into the mountains, from Spain to France, punctuated by raucous song and dance.




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#6 Orik

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 01:50 AM

Where do I eat around Haro?
sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#7 LML

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 12:26 PM

QUOTE(Orik @ Mar 29 2010, 03:50 AM) View Post
Where do I eat around Haro?


Haro is traditional, and if you attempt to eat outside this type you'll probably be disappointed. An example of this is Las Duelas, a place that solely exists to satisfy the 'because I'm worth it' needs of the international diner.

If you want a sit-down meal, try Mesón Atamauri, and Terete. Otherwise the eat on foot, starting from Mesón Atamauri, La Vega, Benigno, then crossing the square to the 'Herradura' (a horseshoe-like arrangement of streets full of bars).

Just outside Haro, there's el Trujal del Abuelo, and el Priorato en Cihuri, and el Pimiento en Tirgo. If you want to eat in a bodega, you have el Conde de los Andes in Ollauri.
A dress is neither a tragedy nor a painting it is a charming and ephemeral creation, not an everlasting work of art. Fashion should die and die quickly in order that commerce may survive.


Food or frock?

#8 Daniel

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 12:30 PM

I would suggest that you must visit Lopez de Heredia.. I was there a couple of years ago and had a wonderful lunch right outside of Haro.. I think we also slept there.. I can't seem to find my postings though.
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#9 Daniel

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 12:33 PM

http://forums.egulle...ost__p__1552665

here is the place.. please get the passion fruit dessert if they still have it.
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#10 Orik

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 03:19 PM

QUOTE(LML @ Mar 29 2010, 08:26 AM) View Post
QUOTE(Orik @ Mar 29 2010, 03:50 AM) View Post
Where do I eat around Haro?


Haro is traditional, and if you attempt to eat outside this type you'll probably be disappointed. An example of this is Las Duelas, a place that solely exists to satisfy the 'because I'm worth it' needs of the international diner.

If you want a sit-down meal, try Mesón Atamauri, and Terete. Otherwise the eat on foot, starting from Mesón Atamauri, La Vega, Benigno, then crossing the square to the 'Herradura' (a horseshoe-like arrangement of streets full of bars).

Just outside Haro, there's el Trujal del Abuelo, and el Priorato en Cihuri, and el Pimiento en Tirgo. If you want to eat in a bodega, you have el Conde de los Andes in Ollauri.


Thanks, much appreciated. Obviously I'm not going to Rioja (or anywhere else in Spain, for that matter) looking for a foam tasting menu.

Daniel - I've had so much of Lopez de Heredia's wines I feel like a long lost cousin. laugh.gif


sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#11 Orik

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 05:02 PM

La Vieja Bodega, El Priorato, and Trujal de Abuelo didn't bother to open as they had no reservations, so we ended up dining in Haro proper twice. At Terete, the lamb was fine, I can't say if better or worse than what I've had before... really what you'd expect from an asador. Morcilla was very good, but the best dish of the evening was an egg thickened casserole of lamb offal (at least liver, kidney, sweetbreads, and a couple of unknowns). A second dinner at Mesón Atamauri was very good overall - started with a weak and scary plate of jamon Iberico, but continued with a casserole of lamb feet in spicy riojan sauce - fantastic collagen rich goodness, a completely unnecessary but tasty dish of fried red peppers, and a surprisingly good chuleton (to put it in context, not as good as Imanol in Madrid, but better than Ansorena despite the latter supposedly buying meat from some specialty source of grouchy old cows).

Good stuff.

We also had some tapas in Logrono that I'll write about later.

sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#12 Orik

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Posted 01 May 2010 - 03:43 PM

Btw, the bread in Rioja is abominable, with Terete taking the cake for its balls of dust, not even appropriate for soaking up sauce. Maybe it's produced to be turned into migas, or as an ornamental holder of pitxos? (the contrast in quality is most striking as you cross the border into France - industrial baguette lookalike turns into professionally baked sourdough)

In any event, a very good version of Migas at La Taberna de Baco in Logrono:


sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#13 Chambolle

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 05:24 PM

If you want a sit-down meal, try Mesón Atamauri ... Otherwise the eat on foot, starting from Mesón Atamauri, La Vega, Benigno, then crossing the square to the 'Herradura' (a horseshoe-like arrangement of streets full of bars).

 

Been there, done that.

 

 

Just outside Haro, there's el Trujal del Abuelo

 

And that.

 

And the old man was making the rounds ...

 

IMG_5784_zps2a325c88.jpg

 

introducing Chambo to the local grand poo-bahs ...

 

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who generously offer Chambo some utterly disgusting crap to drink (which I'm spitting from one glass to the next when they aren't looking) ...

 

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and then, against my will, I get dragged to the grand poo-bahs personal wine cellar to explore his treasures.

 

We also had some tapas in Logrono ...

 

Yep, did that ... and it wasn't very good.

Ate at some restos there too ... ditto.

 

But I'm sure LML thinks they're great. And I'm sure I just didn't "get it". (Ya, right)

 

Although the new gastrobar Tondeluna (not really a bar, more a casual, modern-looking resto) is simple, fun and good enough (and surely appeals to International Diners of ill-repute). Surprise, surprise, it's from the Echaurren boys of Ezcaray. 

 

La Vieja Bodega ... twice.

 

Yep, did it twice.

 

Year in year out ... Lamb and lamb and more lamb ... gets kinda boring, guys ... didn't say it wasn't good, though ...

 

Year in ...

 

IMG_5732-Lamblikeyouwouldntbelieve_zps16

 

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Year out ...

 

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I'll have you know that at Hotel Viura ...

 

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they know how to appeal to us International Diners of ill repute and serve up some tasty, moist bricks of lamb ...

 

IMG_5681-Slow-roastedlambshoulder_zpsff5

 

and you can ask for more mash by saying " mas pumpkin puree por favor " ...

 

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and they know how to prepare pulpo perfectly, placed atop a potato parmentier ...

 

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I wasn't disappointed.

 

Haro is traditional, and if you attempt to eat outside this type you'll probably be disappointed. An example of this is Las Duelas, a place that solely exists to satisfy the 'because I'm worth it' needs of the international diner.

 

Didn't eat there, but I stayed there this year because I'm worth it.

 

Los Agustinos is the place to stay if you want to be in Haro. It's a perfectly nice place in a lovely building in a perfect location and it set Chambo back a whopping 77 euros.

 

 

I've had so much of Lopez de Heredia's wines I feel like a long lost cousin.

 

I've had so much LdeH that I walk in there and act like I own the place !

 

IMG_0570-Thetastingroom_zps5251f902.jpg

 

IMG_0568-LopezdeHeredia_zps65b5f722.jpg

 

 

[Editor's note : Not only did Chambo take pictures, but he tape recorded his conversation inside. Here's the word-for-word transcript.]

 

Chambo : You look familiar.

Lopez Lady : No, YOOOOOOU look familiar ! Welcome back, Chambo !

Chambo : Gracias. You serve wine here ?

LL : Yes, but after last year, LML stopped in and said you were one of those International Diner TWATS © LML and hence you've been banned. Sorry, Chambo.

Chambo : What ! That little prick !!!

LL : Just joking. Calm down. By the way, what does "prick" mean ?

Chambo : Ummmmm, you know roses have thorns, right, and those thorns can "prick" your finger and you bleed. It means he gets under my skin.

LL : Oh, I see. I love learning new English expressions ! I look forward to using it. 

Chambo : Good luck with that !

LL : White or red, Chambo.

Chambo : Yes. And do you have a bit of bellota by any chance ? And would you like to taste a wine I brought ? Rioja, red, zero sulfur !

 

IMG_0572-SharingPedroBaldaswine_zps3e7c7

 

 

LL : Zero sulfur ? Rioja ? That exists ? Yeah, Chambo, I'd love to try some. Can my friend try some too ?

 

Chambo : The more the merrier. It's from Pedro Balda. 2010. One barrel was made of this cuvee and he gave me the bottle for the road after drinking some with him, while sitting on the steps of the San Vicente de la Sonsierra castle overlooking the valley on a full moon night at 10pm.

 

LL : Romantic !

 

Chambo : Hey ! Some cheese would be good too !

 

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LL : Where can I find this wine ?

 

Chambo : Only 2 restos on the planet. Bodega Cigalena and Can Roca.

 

LL : Do you know Andres ? The sommelier at the restaurant Bodega Cigalena in Santander ?

 

Chambo : Yep, I was hooked with him by some guys in Paris. Ever here of the restaurant Saturne ?

 

LL : No, but Andres is a total natural wine nut and he has all these strange old bottles of who knows what.

 

Chambo : Yeah, tell me about it ...

 

lafoto_zps827561ab.jpg

 

 

Chambo : So what do I owe ya ?

 

LL : We don't charge people like you, Chambo. Just order our wines when dining out. 

 

Chambo : Will do. See you next year.

 

 

Obviously I'm not going to Rioja (or anywhere else in Spain, for that matter) looking for a foam tasting menu.

 

To each his own. 

 

Can anybody recommend a place in Rioja where Chambo might be able to find some tarragon juice foam ?

 

And if it had some marinated ear in there that'd be even better.



#14 Chambolle

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 06:59 PM

Never mind ... foam found !

 

http://mouthfulsfood...aris/?p=1305133