I have been living in Logroño, Spain, for the past two months and going for tapas has quickly become one of my favourite hobbies. Whilst it is a relatively small town, Logroño is the capital of the La Rioja region (in northern Spain) which is famous throughout Europe for its top-quality wine production. Yet what I didn't know before I arrived here is that Logroño is also famous throughout Spain for its top quality pinchos, or tapas.
In northern Spain tapas are called pinchos as this comes from the Basque word pintxos. Typically, a pincho is a small serving of food placed on top of a piece of bread. A cocktail stick is used to keep the food in place and these pinchos are typically served with a small glass of wine or beer. What's not to like?!
In Logroño the pinchos on a particular street – Calle Laurel - are so good that whenever I travel to other parts of Spain and tell Spanish people where I am living, they immediately reply ‘ahhh, Calle Laurel - what's your favourite pincho?’ Amazing! In Logroño the way pinchos works is that you travel from bar to bar, sampling one pincho (often the speciality of the day in my case) at each – unless of course you particularly like one bar and can't bear to leave!
As every bar has their speciality it is difficult to describe a typical pincho. However if you visit Calle Laurel you will be sure to find croquettes (breaded balls of cheese, mushroom and ham), vegetable tempura (battered and fried vegetables), and goats cheese (served with walnuts and fruit jam) – they're all so delicious! My mouth is watering just thinking about it …
Yet my favourite pincho is so simple – 3 fried mushrooms sitting on a piece of bread with a prawn at the top. There are two bars which only serve this pincho (there is nothing else on the menu) and it's not difficult to understand why it is so popular after you have tasted the mushrooms which are fried in garlic, butter and salt! Maybe it's not the healthiest option!
So, as you can see I am a big fan of the local traditional food here in Logroño and am looking forward to a whole year of sampling Calle Laurel’s delicacies!