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LA RIOJA - A DAY SPENT IN AND AROUND HARO

A DAY SPENT IN AND AROUND HARO IN LA RIOJA

We arrived from Bilbao airport and checked into our hotel in Haro, the splendid

HOTEL LOS AGUSTINOS Calle San Agustín 2, 26200 Haro, La Rioja +34 941 31 13 08

Founded as a convent in 1373 the building has been through various guises including a Guarnición Military (Military Garrison) in 1809 Hospital Military (Military hospital) in 1811 Carcel (Prison) in 1839 and Hotel 1989.

It is a beautiful building, steeped in history.

It includes an amazing glass-roofed courtyard

This now houses the hotel's excellent restaurant, where special one-off dining and wine events are also held.

The hotel is well placed in the middle of the historical centre of Haro, so everywhere is just a short walk away.

After checking in, we went for a walk to find some pinchos for lunch.

After what could have been a short walk to Plaza de la Paz looking Calle Bilibio 1(but took longer due to iPhone maps! sending us around in circles we finally found what we were looking for)

What we were looking for was, Bar La Esquina, which was just tucked in behind the plaza.

BAR LA ESQUINA Calle Bilibio 1, 26200 Haro, La Rioja +34 616 76 80 85 A lively bar which is frequented by many locals. We were lucky to arrive before the place was bursting at the seams.

We had brochetta a la plancha de langoustines con piña (prawn and pineapple skewer)

Rabas con mayonesa (deep fried breaded cuttlefish with mayonnaise)

Setas al Cabrales (mushrooms with cabrales blue cheese)

The food is freshly cooked and served by very friendly and helpful staff. As is the same with many of the smaller bars, no credit cards are taken so make sure you have cash.

After having our fill of pinchos and beers, we then made our way across town, over river Ebro to the Bodegas Muga for a private tour conducted by the delightful Carmen.

BODEGAS MUGA Avineda Vizcaya, Barrio de la Estación, 2, 26200 Haro

The various Muga wines are all stored in the Bodega.

Eggs whites are separated from the yolks and are added to the wine to coagulate with sediment particles which settle to the bottom, where they can be easily removed.

The leftover yolks go to local bakers and pastelerías, where they help to make the local delicacies.

We were shown where the coopers made the bodegas wooden casks and barrels from French and American oak.

Wine, as far as the eye can see!

The grape skins are taken away after use.

After the tour, we went into a private tasting room where we savoured the excellent delights of

Cava Conde de Haro

White Muga 2017 Flor de Muga Rosé 2017 Torre Muga 2015 Muga Reserva Special Selection 2014

We then returned to our hotel to prepare for the evenings activities.

For our evening meal, we were recommended two places to try. Unfortunately, they were both closed, but will keep in mind for future reference! Our first choice of these would have been

RESTAURANTE TERETE Calle Lucrecia Arana 17, 26200 Haro, La Rioja +34 941 31 00 23 Quote "Never had lamb this fabulous and fairly sure we never will outside of this place. Family run, top notch service; clearly a local tradition". Outside of the closed restaurant, we met a couple of Americans who were also hoping to eat there. Instead, they came with us and we finally ended up here.

HOTEL ARROPE Calle Virgen de la Vega 31, 26200 Haro, La Rioja +34 941 30 40 25 This is a hotel opposite Hotel Los Agustinos with a nice little modern restaurant serving traditional dishes like

Conejo con Arroz (rabbit with rice) Ravioli de Cangrejo (crab ravioli) Cochinillo a Baja tem (slow cooked suckling pig)

Cabrito Asado (roast kid goat)

We had a bottle of Contino Reserva 2007 for €28. A meal for two would be around €85

After a pleasant evening with our two new American friends, we returned to our hotel.

Next day on the way to Logroño we popped into the walled town of Laguardia which is in the municipality located in the southern province of Álava, which belongs to the region of Rioja Alavesa, in the Basque Autonomous Community.

The town is full of narrow lanes bursting with restaurants and shops.

The narrow lanes keep the heat out in the Summer and the wind and cold out in Winter.

Visions of grapes are everywhere

We past an old favourite where we had eaten before.

RESTAURANTE CUEVA LA MURALLA Calle Paganos 42, Laguardia, La Rioja +34 945 60 01 98 Run by a husband and wife team, the lady was front of house and the husband, the Chef. Both non-English speaking but very cordial. Mostly local cuisine and well cooked. If listed on the menu, you should try the exceptionally tender solomillo de lomo. It has an Interesting cellar with a dining area below.

Plenty of fresh local produce is on offer.

Our final stop on the way to Logroño was to the vineyard of

BODEGA VIÑEDOS DEL CONTINO

San Rafael Bidea, 0, 01321 Laserna, La Rioja

+34 941 30 48 09

Whose wine we had drunk the previous evening.

The Contino vines spread out all the way to the Rio Ebro in the distance

They are just about ready to be pruned in late November.

Bodegas Contino is owned by the giant CVNE company and has been making wine from its single vineyard since 1973.

Their top wine is the Viña del Olivo which retails at around €65.

After leaving Contino, we were ready for our pincho bar crawl into Logroño that evening.

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