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36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life. . .” - - Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019; Chef-partner of Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, New York 2019


Food in Navarra

Navarra's Country Cuisine (Stay tuned for an updated version.)

Navarra's country cuisine, talented chefs and lively restaurants are among the best in Spain. They have at their disposal a vast cornucopia of ingredients to draw from: garden-fresh produce such as artichokes, asparagus, beans and red piquillo peppers from the Ribera of southern Navarra; quail, partridge and rabbit from the mountains; trout from the cold, clear mountain streams; fish and shellfish from the nearby Atlantic; excellent artisan cheeses from Roncal in the Pyrenees; and lamb from all across the province.

In addition to the memorable, inexpensive restaurants found in practically every village in Navarra, there are several superb gastronomic temples of Navarrese alta cocina (haute cuisine) and nueva cocina (nouvelle cuisine) in such places as Pamplona, Tafalla and Cintruenigo.

There are scores of classic Navarrese culinary specialties, such as esparragos blancos, fat, white asparagus served with homemade mayonnaise; truchas a la Navarra, trout cooked with a slice of mountain ham; pimientos de piquillo rellenos, delicious triangular-shaped peppers stuffed with brandade, or meat; menestra de verduras, a mélange of young Ribera vegetables; alcachofas con jamón, artichokes cooked with serrano or Ibérico (mountain-cured) ham; pochas, a legendary bean dish cooked with chorizo and quail; and cuajada, a delicious, yogurt-like dessert made from sheep's milk.

Along with the aforementioned reds, one should not miss the excellent, dry rosados. Ernest Hemingway loved these wines so much that he carried them all over Spain during "The Dangerous Summer" of 1959. Try the rosados of Las Campanas (especially Castillo de Javier), Señorio de Sarría, Malón de Echaide, Castillo de Irache and Julián Chivite's superlative Gran Feudo.


Travel Notes: The country code for Spain is 34, the code for Navarra 948.

Juan de Labrit 19 (near the bullring), Pamplona
Phone: 948 22.45.68

Sisters Mari, Manoli and Julia Hartza serve some of Pamplona's best food – traditional Navarrese and Basque dishes using seasonal ingredients – in the elegant dining rooms of a lovely, renovated house accented with antiques and oil paintings. Mari or Manoli will recite the dishes of the day – alubias de Tolosa (red beans); baked fresh fish hake, turbot, sea bream; almejas a la marinera (clams in a wine sauce). Expensive

Espoz y Mina 11, Pamplona
Phone: 948 22.18.00

One of the top restaurants in Pamplona specializing in classic Navarrese dishes, such as menestra, pochas and ajoarriero (bacalao in a garlicky tomato sauce) as well as sophisticated nouvelle Basque dishes using first-rate ingredients. Expensive, but excellent.

San Ignacio
Avenida San Ignacio 4, Pamplona
Phone: 948 22.18.74

A popular, relatively new, moderately priced Pamplona restaurant serving superb regional cuisine based on top-quality ingredients. Try the cogollas de Tudela con anchoas, lettuce hearts with cured anchovies; calamares a la plancha, grilled squid; or revuelto de ajos frescos con gambas, scrambled eggs with garlic shoots and shrimp. Moderate

Casa Zanito
Rua Mayor 16, Olite
Phone: 948 74.00.02

This restaurant serves Nueva cocina dishes such as hake-filled crêpes with clam sauce and classics such as brick oven-roasted shoulder of goat.

Mesón del Peregrino
Carretera Logroño-Pamplona km 23
Puente la Reina
Phone: 948 34.00.75

High-quality modern cuisine employing top-notch regional ingredients served in a charming, rustic, but elegantly appointed room. Attentive service and a good wine list are hallmarks of owner Angel Cambero's style. He also mixes a mean American Martini.
Moderate to Expensive. Also has a charming hotel.

La Cocina de las Coronas
Calle Pons Sorolla 3, Sos del Rey Católico, Zaragoza
Phone: 948 88.48.08

Located just across the Navarrese border in a stunning village, La Cocina is a charming regional restaurant featuring authentic Aragonese cuisine, which has many dishes related to those of Navarra. Quite good and reasonably priced.

Plaza de Navarra 2, Tafalla
Phone: 948 79.08.52

Owned and run by Atxen Jiménez, a woman with the highest standards for cuisine and service, and her son, Chef Nicolas, Michelin one-star Tubal is one of the top-ranked and most elegant restaurants in Navarra. It offers first-rate, sophisticated nueva cocina and artfully prepared renditions of Navarrese classics, always based on the best, freshest ingredients. Tubal has an excellent wine list. Expensive.

La Ribera 19, Cintruenigo
Phone: 948 81.11.50

This one-star Michelin restaurant, owned by Chef Enrique Martínez, is located in the same town as Bodegas Julián Chivite and offers a fine combination of modern Spanish dishes and beautifully prepared Navarrese classics, including vegetable dishes from La Ribera de Navarra. Reasonably priced for the quality of the dishes served.

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