Northern Spain Trip Day 9
The drive from San Sebastian to the Navarre area was easy and scenic. Just south and inland, Navarre, a Basque region but not Basque Country, is best known for its capital city of Pamplona.
We stopped after 1 1/2 hours in the small town of Olite which is the home of the Palace of Kings.
Another 30 minutes south we reached out lunch destination, the vegetable-driven restaurant Elcrucero in the town of Corella.
Our multi-coursed lunch was paired with wines from the Navarra winery Aliaga. Although the restaurant is known for its delicious vegetable dishes (the cardoon with pomegranate was especially great) the roasted goat we had as our main was absolutely succulent!
It was getting late when we loaded back into our van after lunch and as we drove into the Rioja region we experienced one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever witnessed. Antonio pulled over so we could watch it go from orange to red to pink to purple!
Just to the west of Logroño, we stopped in San Asensio to visit Bodegas Lecea. We had a great time tasting the wines and had a very interesting tour of their cellars.
It was a quick 30-minute ride back to Lograño where we checked into the Sercotel Portales. This was a good if basic hotel but we were only staying one night so it was more than fine.
We barely dropped our bags before it was time to meet up with some of Gerry and John's local friends who would be taking us out for the evening; Tonica and Tom.
It was Friday night and we were heading out for the ultimate pinchos (what this region calls tapas) crawl on and around Calle Laurel. I had not never been here before but my brother spent some time here and from the photos of food he had sent me I knew it was going to be great!
It seemed like EVERYONE was out, and it felt like a big happy party! Basically the streets are lined with mainly small restaurants, each with their own specialty. You order that, a glass of wine, beer, or sidre, and you stand in the streets eating and drinking.
Our first stop was Bar Soriano for the fabulous grilled mushrooms with olive oil, garlic, and shrimp. We were off to a good start!
Next were "matrimonios" at Blanco y Negro; anchovy and fried green peppers in a sandwich. Surprisingly good!
Next door at Bar Cid we had more mushrooms, this time big oyster mushrooms hot off the grill!
Meson Abuelo was next and although we had some very good lamb sweetbreads this restaurant was a bit too large, too bright, and too new for me.
Along with all of this amazing food, the people watching was top notch!
At this point some people wanted to go for a sit down dinner while others wanted to continue the crawl (me!). So we split up and I headed off with Tonica, Beth, Anne, and George for Tonica's favorite pincho, grilled pineapple and prawn. Holy hell, this was my best bite of the night!
And unfortunately the only place I didn't write down!
We wrapped our crawl up at the very modern Umm with a delicious gazpacho. They've got the name right here!
On the way home, Tonica was nice enough to show us around a bit, it's really a lovely town and I'd love to stay longer next time! It was well past midnight when we got back to the hotel and the streets were quiet again.
The next morning we drove past the walled town of Laguardia but the fog was so incredibly thick that we couldn't even see it!
From here we stopped at the Marqués de Riscal, not to try the wine but to take a look at the Gehry-designed hotel. I had toured this winery when they were actually building the hotel and had been shown the small architectural model, it was awesome to see it finished!
We left the Rioja region and had a 4-hour drive to our final destination of Madrid. I have to say that the visit to Logroño was really one of the highlights of this trip. My question; when can I go back? I gotta find the spot that sells those pineapple and prawn skewers!
All photos from Navarre and Rioja here
Other posts on this trip:
Northern Spain Food & Wine Tour
Shellfish & Grapes in Galicia
On the Move in Galicia
Shooting Sidra in Asturias
Beef and Basque
Seafood All Around San Sebastian