La Rioja Gastronomy
The cuisine of La Rioja is based on the abundance
of local produce. La Rioja could be described as a vast vegetable
garden, giving Riojan cooking great diversity, based on fresh,
natural ingredients. Amongst these "garden" dishes we
find menestra de verduras, the composition of which depends on
the season. Artichokes, asparagus, cardoon, borrage... these are
some of the vegetables we may try; salads, another classic, with
lettuce, tomato or spring onion in summer, or perhaps escarole
or garlic in winter. Due to the geographical differences throughout
the region, we find that the variety of dishes available depends
very much on the area. In the higher areas there are many pork
products, such as the traditional Spanish sausage chorizo, intensely
coloured and delicately-flavoured, aromatic and a little spicy.
There is also black pudding, sweet as well as spicy, salchichon
(spicy salami), or cured serrano ham. The cocidos (hearty meat
stews), thick vegetable soups (which always contain meat and chorizo),
beans or potatoes with chorizo - these dishes are ever-present
on the menus of the best restaurants.
Meat is a major feature on local menus... Lamb is prepared in various ways - grilled or spit-roasted, casseroled in red wine, chuletillas al sarmiento (chops barbecued over vine cuttings)... accompanied by potatoes, wild mushrooms from the Riojan forests, or the cultivated variety. Pork or beef is also prepared in a variety of delicious ways, as are farmyard poultry and game-birds.
There are many delicious dishes made with peppers, either roasted or stuffed. Cod or freshwater Riojan trout are the most popular fish on the menu.
After the main course we could try goat´s cheese from the Cameros mountains, or seasonal fruits such as peaches, strawberries, pear or cherries, either fresh or poached in wine. Not forgetting sweets such as fardelejos (almond pastry cake), marzipans, rollos (pastries)....
La Rioja guide