What to eat in Rioja

Spain October 2008 082One of the many reasons why I love Spanish food is that it suits my lifestyle and diet, which includes small plates (tapas) and Mediterranean cuisine.  I also love it for its simplicity, for example, the grilled baby lamb chops (chuletillas).  These are typically served grilled with just a sprinkle of salt, no more, a long rib with just a nugget of juicy lamb and fat at the tip.

If you live for tapas, the best neighborhood for tapas bars and restaurants is in the capitol of Logrono, about 30 miles East of Haro and close to all the highways.  Logrono is a relatively large city and, while lacking the charm of Haro, is a convenient place to stay when visiting Rioja.  The well-known neighborhood for tapas is called Calle del Laurel which includes three adjoining streets.  Many of these bars specialize in a single dish, such as the champinones (mushrooms) at Bar El Soriano.   The Asociacion La Laurel publishes a pocket guide – Guia de Pinchos & Platos Estrella – that lists all the bars and restaurants with a photo of their speciality, plus fold out map and locations.  this can be ordered from www.logroturismo.org.