The KINGDOM of Navarra: a blend of super-chef, medieval castles, good to great wines and it’s green, too: 38 windfarms generate 65% of their energy.
An ancient tradition of wines and spirits, and very modern hearty but beautifully balanced red wines, often temperanillo and temp blends. And a few lyrical sauvignon blancs, too.
We had all this recently with the inventive yet simple food from noted chef Enrique Martinez of Hotel Maher in Navarra – who cooked at Boston’s Estragon Restaurant.
To sample each dish was to uncover surprises in the infusion of mushrooms, sprinkling of toasted chopped nuts, ribbons of herbs. But most of all it was about texture: perfectly cooked lobster nearly translucent as tender as possible. And fish with firmness that spoke of being taken off the heat just as it came to the exact moment of doneness. A meal memorable for the mouthfeel as much as the taste.
For dessert, the piquant Ochoa 2007 moscadel, made from the “petits grains” muscat: aromas of flowers, orange and mint; not too sweet, balanced with a touch of citrus peel and finishing nearly dry.
After that, a sip the ancient custom of a digestif of relatively Pacharan, sometimes poured over ice, the red liquid glowing in the glass. In September and October, people pick sloe berries and add them to some anisette liqueur they’ve bought. Tradition says the Pacharan is ready to drink for the July fiesta, when the berries are a red carpet at the bottom of bottle, having given their color and flavor to the liquor.