The wine region of Rioja in Northern Spain is widely known for the excellent wine that is produced since the Romans. But the region of Rioja in Spain is also home to superb cuisine. Where there is great wine, excellent food is always close… You will probably visit Rioja because of wine, but once you experience Rioja wine and food pairing, you will also fall in love with our cuisine.
The agricultural tradition of Rioja provides many fantastic and high quality products as olive oil, vegetables, white asparagus, artichokes, “Piquillo” red peppers and many more. With all these excellent products the Riojan gastronomy is very rich and diverse. Quality of Rioja’s cuisine — both classic and creative – is amazing and you will find here a paradise if you are a wine and also a food lover. So, be prepared not only to taste best Rioja wines but also to enjoy our gastronomy and food culture.
These are some typical dishes not to miss in Rioja:
Patatas a la Riojana
Everybody knows the famous Spanish Patatas Bravas, a typical tapa that you can find everywhere in Spain, but this is a very different version that everbody loves. Spanish cuisine is not known for its spicy food but here in Rioja, potatoes come cooked with spicy chorizo and smoky paprika – a delicious combination!
Beef or pork cheeks in Rioja red wine sauce
Even if it is not the finest part of the meats, cooked with the right ingredients and a very good Rioja red wine, very slowly like our granmothers used to cook, the result of this dish is spectacular and yummy! A must when visiting Rioja.
Cod fish in Riojan tomato sauce
The only fish that was available in Rioja in the past, when the fridges did not exist, was the salty preserved Cod fish. It was cooked with the local ingredients: tomatoes, onions and peppers and this is the recipe passed from generations to generations until today. It is a lovely way to enjoy this fish.
Fresh white beans stew
This is also a star in Rioja and the best meal to enjoy in the cold winter. Among its ingredients, we find the spicy chorizo (chorizo is a must in our gastronomy), many vegetables, some bacon and nice pork meat . This is an excelent stew always present at every home in Rioja.
Lamb chops in Rioja are grilled over vine shoots (what else!) that are pruned in winter and this give the lamb chops a very special and flavourful taste. This is probably the star meal in Rioja. Every house has a barbecue grill to make them. Simply delicious!
In the begining of the autumn you will find people in the villages roasting these red, small and sweet peppers. You can feel roasted peppers smell everywhere. They are skinned and cooked before having them. They match perfectly with roasted or grilled meats like beef Tbone steak. But they also delicious in salads. You can also find them at all bars as a “pincho or tapa”, stuffed with cod fish bechamel or mincemeat and tomato sauce. Covered with batter and fried.
Don’t leave Rioja if you haven’t tried a stuffed pepper! We call it “pimiento relleno” (write it down)
This white asparagus is a regional specialty from the south east part of Rioja and Navarra, nothing cant beat the flavour and the tenderness. To get the white colour, these are buried and cover with soil to avoid sunlight everytime they try to get out. That makes them so tender. You can find them canned and served with different sauces like mayonnaise, vinaigrette, french dressing or just olive oil. You can also find the fresh version, grilled and salted and used in many different kinds of dishes including salads, soups, omelets and other egg dishes.
Originally from Mediterranean part of Europe, artichokes are long-stemmed vegetables with spiny leaves shaped like pineapples. The edible part is formed by the heart of the flower. The variety Blanca de Tudela is amazing and it is the one grown in La Rioja It is usually eaten fresh but you can also preserve them in jars. It offers many cooking options: with mixed vegetables, steamed in salads or grilled and fried. All of them delicious and very healthy.
Two typical receipts from the region are Artichokes with ham or “menestra”, a delicious vegetable stew with different fresh vegetables including artichokes.
Roast (suckling lamb) or Cochinillo (suckling pig)
Roasts are also very popular in Rioja specially the tender young lambs and pigs. These are always served with fresh salads or fresh vegetables.
Torrijas a la Riojana (Spanish-style French toast)
Nothing better than finish our meals in Rioja with this delicious sweet recipe. It is a typical dessert made at many homes in Rioja on Saint Joseph’s day on 19th March and also around Easter. But you can find this dessert at most of the restaurants in Rioja all year long. Torrijas are an ancient recipe, they first appear quoted by a Spanish author in the 15th Century. It is a very simple dish, very similar to French toast, made with slices of stale bread soaked in milk and flavoured with cinnamon or vanilla. Then bathed in beaten egg, fried in oil and sprinkled with a mixture of sugar and powdered cinnamon and sometimes accompanied by a sauce such as custard, or a rich ice cream. Simply delicious!
Does it sound tempting? If you want to experience with us best Rioja wines paired with best food at our favourite local restaurants, check out our Rioja Flavours tour. 3 days of great Rioja wines and the best local food, both trational and creative, to immerse in our fascinating wine and food culture.