Two of David’s favourite colours in the world of food. Black = black pudding. Red= red wine and we managed to cover the top Spanish of each in one week and also pay homage to one of Spain’s leading golfers, the great Seve.
Mon 08/08/16: Up and last lot of washing on before we go on the hunt for chocolate with churros in the very bonita town of Santillana del Mar. In the south the 2 c’s are served for breakfast and more often than not only on a Sunday, but in the north they seem to be an all-day treat and this was to be verified when we couldn’t track them all down again in Santillana and there was only the one on offering. Tasty they were, but small in quantity and so the one portion remained firmly on David’s side of the table. Never mind- a moment on your lips a life time in your hips and all that nonsense, a café con leche worked for me. The draw of the coast is great but not so much as the famed Burgos black pudding for David and so what’s a 100 miles or so in
search of this great and renowned delicacy. But not before we head the few k’s past Santander to the home of the great golfing legend himself Seve Ballesteros and ‘Real Golf de Pedrena’. This was where Seve at a very young age would bunk in at the 3rd hole and practice his golf and the rest as they say is history. Unfortunately for David to play was prohibitive, even more so when you have no mates with you to enjoy it. So it was a case of wandering, buying and having a drink in the club house and soaking up the atmosphere. Then from one treat on to the next, Burgos and black pudding. No point in hanging around once we got there, the Aire was on the edge of town and very bleak but certainly functional and so we hit the old town of Burgos and very lovely it was. We stopped first of all in an LP recommendation, a very busy tapas bar- Cerveceria Morita. Here David tasted his first Burgos black pudding in the form of a pincho. Three decent sized pieces of pudding, chips and pepper. An absolute delight and for the exceedingly good price of €2.20. The bar was heaving with not even elbow room and so not really conducive to a nice dinner so we headed off to a very old school restaurant. Here David sampled his 2nd lot of the great black stuff, the verdict was out on which was better but finally the bar got the vote. Lamb was also the speciality here and so this Monday really was a David day.
Tues 09/08/16: Back into Burgos and to see the Unesco World heritage cathedral. We have seen quite a few cathedrals here in Spain but this one really was the jewel in the crown. We were heading back north after this and so the black pudding in take had to be maximised and the taste test completed before we left. After a bit of searching we heading back to the busy bar of the day before so David could have the pincho again to make his final verdict. Again the bar was packed with locals and tourists alike but the service was never less than excellent.
So with the world of black pudding covered onto the next great- Rioja. Fairly or not rioja is probably the best known wine to come out of Spain and it was on our route back up to Bilbao where we
are to meet up with friends plus godchildren. The scenery on the way up became more and more filled with vines and bodegas before we settled in the small village of Elciego. This village is a very quaint rioja pueblo that has gained more fame for being the home to Marques de Riscal bodega and its hotel designed by Frank Gehry (designer of the Guggenheim Museo in Bilbao). An odd position – the hotel costs over £300 per night but the town also has a most wonderful free Aire and so we enjoyed all the benefits of the town but for nothing. Alright perhaps we didn’t have the lovely big fluffy white towels but we did have a couple of lovely glasses of rioja in the town at 80 cents each. The building is OTT anyway!!
Wed 10/08/16: Before we leave this very quaint town a quick visit to the very local bodega Valdelana. We now have a new regime when there might be big spending opportunities –little finger linking. This was firmly done before we entered the bodega. It wasn’t
done before the golf course nor before a very nice jewellers in Burgos and to be honest it was touch and go here but we escaped with only 6 bottles and an average spend per bottle of €5- so good going for us.
We then headed on to Briones, another rioja town and home to Dinastia Vivanco. This is an independent museum of wine owned by Vivanco and what a museum. Not a cheap date to get in and probably slightly overpriced but a lot caught be learnt by other museums here. It was the right balance of interesting, interactive and very informative-really a must if you are ever in rioja area. After a lovely day a lovely great British fav for dinner- sausage, mash, onions and it has to be bisto-uhmmmmm
Thurs 11/08/16: Enough indulgence, eating and drinking and onto Bilbao city of culture and design. Not a long drive but still a really quite stunning one, very alpine like. It was my driving day and the Aire in Bilbao is great and has the most wonderful views over the city and river, but of course that means it’s up hill and what a hill for the final part. But made it we did and I don’t think you could rival the views of Bilbao from here elsewhere- stunning and we have front row seats. Now in Basque homeland and so no hope on the language front but a hope of a curry in this city and after a few pintxos (basque spelling) we had our first restaurant curry for some time.
Good, not great but have had worse is how it’s best described!. A hair raising ride back on the night bus up the hill by the driver who
seemed to think he was Lewis Hamilton, but a lovely first taste of Bilbao
Fri 12/08/16: Time for a river trip and so after a few home chores we headed down town –thankfully not with Lewis Hamilton again and hopped on the river tour. A hot day but a lovely breeze was to be add as we viewed Bilbao from another angle. Pintxos again had for lunch, these like tapas are really great as you have such great variety and as much as you might or might not want before we relaxed back with our view and a frugal left over dinner of chicken cous cous and pepper. We won’t mention the very expensive chocolate that served as desert costing nearly as much as one ticket into the Guggenheim – a bit of a mistake but really very good chocolate.
Final verdict on black pudding from the expert Mr Nolan. Burgos black pudding is the best, better than his own home country’s even. Worth the journey!