Hello to all
Last Sunday while my partner in crime here in Spain was on a mission far far away I had the great privilege of being invited to join some good friends for a wine tasting and lunch in Rioja.
The plan was simple. Travel to Tolosa, eat breakfast at the Casa de Locos Sociedad, get on a bus with the Socios de Solana crew, take a beautiful bus ride to Rioja Alavesa, walk around Laguardia, go to Bodegas Vallobera Winery, eat lunch and tase some wine. That was the plan, and that is what we did.
I met up with Sonia “Super Women” and head over to the Sociedad for some delicious Tortilla con Chorizo, bread and of course ”it’s never to early” Rioja wine. It was a quick bite to keep us satisfied untill we arrived in the very beautiful village of Laguardia. The bus ride was fun, the entire crew was chatting away so it was a great opportunity for me to catch up on some sleep. It was very obvious when we entered Rioja. The landscape was full of vineyards; whole valleys filled with vines as far as the eye could see.
Before the arranged lunch and wine tasting, there was a decision made by someone (not sure who, but I think it was a very well thought out one) to stop for a few glasses of Rioja and some Chorizo to wet our appetites and just soak up a little more of the atmosphere here in Rioja Alavesa. Next, we were on to the Bodega. I have to be honest, everything during this day was taking place in Spanish. Though I feel that I can somewhat hold a basic conversation in Spanish, after five months here in Pais Vasco, it was just a bit too much to try to follow what was going on during the tour of the winery. I know that they make a white Rioja, a young Rioja that is less then a year old ,a Rioja Crianza which has been aged at least 2 years old, and a Rioja Reserva that has been aged for at least 3 years. The last three are reds.
And now it was finally time for the main event of the day, lunch accompanied by the bodega’s wine’s. Unfortunately at this point my camera ran out of batteriesso I was unable to get any pic’s, but I will describe what we had pleasure of eating. First, we had some Chistorra, this is much like Chorizo just is encased in a thinner casing. Being in Rioja we were served the world known Piquillo Peppers, these peppers are fire roasted and then peeled by hand, then they where slow cooked to concentrate the sweet flavors of the pepper. Really good! Next we were served scrambled eggs that where loaded with spring mushrooms from Rioja, this dish was great and even greater with the Crianza that we drank with it. To get us ready for the piece de resistance which was a baby lamb, we were served lamb trotters…. first time I had ever had these things. These where the part of the leg that is below the knee of the lamb, really gelatinous, cooked in a liquid with a lot a pimenton and some Chorizo. A different texture then what I normally enjoy but non the less very good. And then the Whole, slow roasted, baby lamb was served. It was ridiculously moist on the inside and had a great crunchy outside. Having been raised in Israel I hold a very close place in my heart for lamb, similar to how most chefs in the states feel about pork (this isn’t to say that I don’t love pork). I like it when the lamb is cooked low and slow and that I can taste the flavor of the lamb. This dish was all that and more. YUM! After some pastries that had been brought with us from Tolosa, some digestifs from Galicia and Single Malt Whisky it was time to move on to the next stop, as we do here in Pais Vasco. Why head home when there is a great spot on the way to have some Gin and Tonic’s overlooking a great view of the beautiful Sierra de Cantabria.
This was an unforgettable adventure and I need to thank the of Solana 4 Family for really embracing me as one of their own and inviting me to join them on this great day.
Until next time,