Riojan Cuisine





Being a landlocked region you might not be surprised to find that a lot of the dishes that Rioja is famous for includes the fruits of the land rather than the sea; lamb, beef, excellent charcuterie, cured cheeses, superb vegetables and the local produced Pimentón (a type of smoky, sweet or spicy Paprika) are the main staples of the Riojan diet - all of which match beautifully with the region’s red wines, rosés and oaked whites.
 
Lamb is one of the main specialities in Rioja, simply prepared either roasted in clay ovens or in tasty rich stews such as “chilindrón”. In Spain however, Rioja is most famous for the quality of its vegetables, grown on the plains and slopes in and amongst the vineyards; the range and variety is astounding, as is the quality. Artichokes, borage, cardoons, are all mixed together with sweet peas and beans to produce a lovely vegetable starter called “menestra”, which if made well makes your toes curl with delight. But there are also fabulous red and green peppers, juicy tomatoes, asparagus, and aubergines which are used to accompany the lamb and are simply griddled and dressed with a little olive oil.
 
One of the most famous Riojan dishes is called “Patatas a la Riojana” (literally Riojan Potatoes) a simple dish made from potatoes, chorizo and the famous sweet Pimentón which is a real winter warmer, full of smoky aromas from the Pimentón and touch of spice from the chorizo – delicious with a glass of Riojan red.
 
The cuisine of this famous winemaking region is often overlooked but as you will find everywhere in Spain, eating well is a must and Rioja is no exception. If you want to sample some of the local dishes and you are in Rioja, the best place to head for is the Calle Laurel (Laurel Street) in Logroño, the heartland of good eating, great wines and the best place for a great night out. 
 
To learn more about the region and places of interest in Rioja click here
To read a recipe that matches Rioja with a traditional Riojan recipe click here.  
 
[Photo by Miran Rijavec]  

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