FROM the cool mountain lamb in the north to sizzling sweet peppers on the banks of the Ebro River in the sultry south, the region of Navarra boasts some of the most varied food, and landscapes, in Spain. I went to the markets of Pamplona to find out more.
El Mercado Santo Domingo is a community market that is surrounded by a busy city metropolis. You enter through a graffitied doorway, a smoky black and white homage to the traditional market stalls and history it holds within. It is an unsuspecting underground space of 45 stalls on calle Mañueta, Pamplona. It has been selling the specialities from the Navarra region since 1769. It holds the key to local wisdom with carefully selected farm produce and a rustic orientation towards tradition, claiming to have a focus on quality and the transmission of knowledge.
The stalls stretch out in slim neat alleyways, the cosy lack of space only added to the community atmosphere as people browsed the produce. Some people had more direct notions of what they wanted. A Señora, fur-clad and wheeling her little shopping bag around, had her weekly shop on the tip of her tongue, bustling past me and inspecting the chard with a keen knowledgeable eye. There were also many meanderers picking up unusual vegetables and asking questions, being encouraged to smell for freshness under the watchful eye of sincere farmers, or to take photos.
The reason for Navarra’s rich variety in produce is the diverse geography of the region. The north of Navarra is a dizzy undulating landscape of frosty mountains and green valleys full of traditional village life, excellent lamb and game, wild mushrooms and trout fishing in crystal rivers. Moving further north and into the Basque Country, you have the coast at your fingertips. As a result, Bacalao (cod) features in many Basque dishes. Heading south from Pamplona, you pass through fields of artichokes, typically sold in bundles with huge green stalks from Tudela (the second biggest city in the state), and blanched asparagus that is boiled and stored in jars. The southern region, Ribera de Navarra, is one of the most important agricultural areas in Spain. The Euskera rusticity is soon replaced by passionate southern heat. The temperate climates yield a different crop entirely, blushed and sun-ripened. There are the sweet red peppers, pimientos de piquillo, from the village of Lodosa, harvested on the sunshine banks of the Ebro River. Then there are the numerous yet under-rated vineyards producing deep rich wine. But alcohol from Navarra is another blog completely, “un Patxaran por favor…”
Try this simple recipe suggested by the municipality of Pamplona and provided by chefs from the best restaurants in the city.
Artichokes stuffed with mushrooms
- A blanche of water, a little lemon juice and flour for the artichokes
- 250g mushrooms
- Chopped parsley
- Olive oil
First, wash and trim the artichokes. Put them in the blanche, this will stop them from going brown. Soak the artichokes for a little while then boil them in salted water until they are just soft enough to poke with a fork, but still a tad ‘al dente’.
Chop and fry the mushrooms in some olive oil. Add the garlic and soften gently. Add the chopped parsley.
Hollow out the artichokes and stuff them with the mushrooms. It is best served with a cream of pumpkin sauce or a garnish of fried leek.
See the full recipe, along with others, here:
- Furry faces are transforming fundraising - 25 Nov, 2012 @ 21:05
- Save Erasmus! - 18 Nov, 2012 @ 12:44
- The mighty Camino de Santiago: The Highlights - 11 Oct, 2012 @ 20:08
- The mighty Camino de Santiago - 16 Sep, 2012 @ 22:36
- So, you think you know everything about San Fermín? - 7 Jul, 2012 @ 08:35
- Have you been in Portugal? - 24 Jun, 2012 @ 10:46
- Festival Tres Sesenta invades - 13 Jun, 2012 @ 09:08
- Music is all around… - 8 Jun, 2012 @ 17:45
- Fast-forward in the Pyrenees - 30 May, 2012 @ 08:36
- A love affair with tortilla de patatas: A recipe for disaster? - 10 May, 2012 @ 12:57