Eating and Drinking on the Camino Frances - Logroño
Walking the Camino, it could be argued whether the food is a highlight or not. While the Pilgrims Menu is a cheap and generous meal at the end of a tough day out on the trail, after a couple of nights, it becomes less a culinary treat and more like you are trapped in an endless cycle of repetition. Many companies include your evening meal as part of your Camino trip
, but here at Macs Adventure, we prefer that you do this your own way, for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, the Pilgrims Menu is so easy to pick up wherever you are, that it seems pointless in us booking it for you in advance. Secondly, it is much cheaper to book it yourself when you are actually there and we don't feel right about charging for things that are simple to do yourself. However, the main reason for this is that there are so many outstanding culinary experiences along the Camino that to be tied down to the Pilgrims menu is to miss out on one of the great facets of this amazing adventure.
As if to underline the last point, I thought that it would be good to write a blog about one of Spain's hidden treats, eating out in Logroño. Logroño, though just in the Rioja region, follows the great principle of eating in the Basque Country, that of Pintxo culture. Pintxos, if you don't know already, are like small tapas, the literal translation being 'thorn,' because they are traditionally served on a large cocktail stick. Rows of stunning looking pintxos are laid out on the various bars and you are encouraged to head in, order a small something and an even smaller beer, or preferably some outstanding Rioja, enjoy the gastronomic explosion in your mouth, then leave, heading out to the next bar, mere steps away. Though it sounds demented to go out and eat a glorified buffet for your dinner, what makes it so special is not just that the food is outstanding, but the whole dining experience.
This is the least touristy city I have ever been in Spain and there is something very special about being involved in this chaotic dining experience, so full of joy, gusto and enjoyment. The nest of streets comprising of Calle del Laurel, Travesía del Laurel, Calle San Agustin and Calle Albornoz contain over 50 little pintxo bars, each with its own speciality. There is such a variety of dishes on display that the fact that you can dive into them all in little bite-sized servings is only bettered by the fact that they serve the multitude of outstanding wine in the same fashion. This is a gastronomic dream come true for anyone who even has a passing interest in food and wine as there is something on these streets that everyone will fall in love with.
Even if your Spanish is not that great, apart from the pleasantries, the only bit of Spanish you need to know is 'uno de esos, por favor’ which means 'one of those, please,' as you point to the pintxo in question. This is your gateway to little piles of tiny eels (like whitebait) on toast, thinly sliced octopus dusted with paprika and cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection, pintxo morunos, little potato parcels filled with egg yolk and the list goes on. It seems to be the case that your palate becomes more adventurous the more Rioja you have imbibed, so don't be ashamed to start off with some patatas bravas and a few albondigas (meatballs) as before you know it you will be tucking into whatever stands out in these majestically artful, culinary displays.