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Priorat / Navarra / Rioja recap (5-7 June)

z
zin1953 Jun 24, 2012 12:11 PM

More BRIEF comments from our meals in Spain . . .

After spending the morning of 5 June with Alvaro Palacios, we went to Clos Figueres and had lunch outside prepared by Chef Toni Bru of El Celler de l'Aspic in Falset -- not a paella (though prepared on an outdoor gas ring in a paella pan), but a vegetable rice dish that was stunning. Nice wines from Clos Figueres, too.

Similarly, dinner was prepared by local Chef Mark Pi and Susan Spicer . . . delicious, but impossible to make a recommendation for!

EL CRUCERO (Lunch, 6 June) was another huge surprise. We were in the town of Corella, in Navarra, and walked into what was pretty much a small, local (bordering on "dive") bar, but *upstairs* was this charming little restaurant with great food! Everything fresh, local -- they even make their own olive oil -- this place was amazing, and if we're ever anywhere near Corella again, it's worth making a detour for.

RESTAURANTE GASTRONOMICO (Dinner, 6 June) Located inside the Hotel Marques de Riscal in the Rioja village of Elceigo, this was our first disappointment, and it was HUGE! It's one thing to reach for the stars and miss -- at least one can appreciate the effort. This was just boring, under seasoned, overcooked and careless cuisine, combines with an inattentive, bordering on arrogant waitstaff. (And the chef has a Michelin star, too!) The hotel itself is great, but there's no reason to dine there . . .

ASADOR JOSE MARI (Lunch, 7 June) After a great visit with Benjamin Romeo at Contador, we went over to this little grill for lunch in the town of San Vicente de la Sonsierra -- Benjamin with with us, or we never would have found it, but it was basic country food, delicious soup, salad, and a pile of thinly cut (compared to the US), grilled lamb chops that were simple, delicious and downright great! Nothing fancy; rustic, country food, and another place we'd be happy to return to.

RESTAURANTE MARIXA (Dinner, 7 June) Located inside the hotel of the same name, in the Rioja town of Laguardia, with a picture perfect view of the vineyards of the Rioja Alavesa, this charming place served wonderful food -- equally adept with fish and beef. Very nice.

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