The Cork Board

Day 13/14 Logroño rest days

Logroño is a city that styles itself as the capital of the rioja region. As an outlet for all the various styles and wares of the bodegas around these parts there can be no challenger. There are hundreds of variations, and, supporting my long held belief that the European countries don’t export their best wine to the UK, most of them you’ll never have heard of.

I spent a happy morning exploring the history of the region in the excellent Museo de Rioja, which is not, as its name would suggest, a history of the wine, but a history of the region. I’ve been fascinated by the influence of Celtic sounds that I hear in some of the music from this area and the museum brought to life the early tribal developments of the area, including the Celts. In the street I saw a band playing what I would recognise as “British” Morris dancing music, and the crowd really getting into it. I’m left to wonder at the under currents of history in a part of the world whose boundaries were tribal lands. The result being that despite current political machinations and hypocrisies, we are a people with more in common than we would believe.

Pretty Lion

But enough of this preaching. A city such as this is bustling with rioja outlets and pinchos (tapas) to accompany your tipple. So here is Al’s Gastro Guide…as far as it goes

Umm ..

Recommended in The Telegraph… most miserable service yet. Pulled Pork pinchos and Paco Garcia rioja…food okay wine…just another bar…oh, hang on, a pretty girl just walked in.

Ladies who lunch

La Tavina..

Picked up a leaflet in hotel reception. Huge range of wines to try by the glass and tasty pinchos particularly the crispy lomo (pork loin).On my first visit I checked the list and asked for a “Balasandro”. The waitress gave me a wink and poured a full flavoured rioja. A bit forward, I thought. It was great and the following night asked for the same from a different waitress and was given a white rioja, showing me the label to prove it. Clearly the first waitress thought I looked like a man who needed something stronger. A fun bar with a good passing trade.Became my default bar of choice. No more winks. If I lived here I would be a regular.

Al Toque..

Chic restaurant not to intimidating at the door.Very tasty Set menu dinner here. Glass of white rioja, Melon salad, bacaloa riojana, and chocolate tart to finish. €16.50. Deal.

La Chatilla, Gastrobar

Laid back atmosphere. Cool vibe. Playing Amy Winehouse.Handsome portion of Calamares pinchos, complete with curly bits, and white rioja. Free wifi that works ! muy bien.

Covent Garden ( honest)..

Inspired to try here given the local patronage but they clearly don’t eat here much. Service was friendly and making an effort. My hamburgesa was, however, utterly forgettable. Smarten up your act and you could have quite a place.

Tomorrow Vitoria-Gasteiz and deep into Basque territory…’bout a mile up the road is a hidden cave and we can watch those Cherokees / go galloping byyyy.

My book “Crossing Spain – wandering in the land of the bull” is available from Amazon for a snip. Not just for cyclists, has suggestions for places to visit off the beaten track. Fun for all the family.

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