Wine tourism is on the rise in Spain, the world’s third-largest wine producer (after France and Italy). Just a little over one hour south of Bilbao is the La Rioja wine region. Its capital is Haro whose barrio de la estación (train-station neighborhood) is dotted with wineries (bodegas) where you can sample the region’s wines. Head to nearby sleepy Elciego (its Basque name is Eltziego). Here you’ll find the Hotel Marqués de Riscal, designed by architect Frank Gehry (his magnificent Guggenheim Museum is in Bilbao). You can’t miss its roof wrapped in pink, silver and gold titanium ribbons. Opened in 2006, the luxury hotel is home to a “City of Wine” including a renowned restaurant (Echaurren), a wine bar, wine tastings, cooking school, wine museum and shop, and “vinothérapie” spa with such features as bathing in wine. Now that’s a total wine experience! Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, you can tour the winery and taste two of the local wines for €10 (tours are in English, reservations must be made in advance). Info: 1 Calle Torrea. Tel. 945180880. http://www.marquesderiscal.com/. Elciego and the “City of Wine” are 68 miles (110 km) south of Bilbao/76 miles (122 km) southwest of Pamplona. If you’re driving from Bilbao, take Highway E-70 to Highway A8 in the direction of Victoria-Burgos. Follow Highway AP68 to the Cenicero exit (Exit 10). Continue past the toll booth and turn right onto N-232. Proceed for 1 kilometer and turn left onto LR-512. Turn right onto A-3210 and continue to Elciego.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Cicheti (chee-keht-tee) are the Venetian version of tapas. Cicheti (cichetti) are small portions of food served in bars in Venice, usually with an ombra (a small glass of wine.)
Here are a few places where you can hang out with locals and try a fun Venetian tradition. All are located near the Rialto vaporetto stop.
Osteria alla Botte
5482 Calle della Bissa (east end of the Rialto Bridge near Campo San Bartolomeo)
Closed Thu. and Sun.
Osteria Sora al Ponte
1588 Ponte delle Beccarie (near the Rialto Bridge Market off of Campo de la Beccarie)
122 Campo San Giacometto (west end of Rialto Bridge along the Grand Canal)
Closed Sun. (dinner) and Mon.
For more on dining in Venice, check out Eating & Drinking in Italy: Italian Menu Reader and Restaurant Guide.
Friday, May 8, 2009
"Coming to Paris and not tasting good French wines is like going to the U.S. and not trying a good burger," says Olivier Magny of Ô Château. This young French sommelier will guide you through a fun, informative and relaxing wine tasting in his new Parisian location. Info: 1st/Métro Louvre-Rivoli. 52 rue de l'arbre sec . Tel. 01/220.127.116.11. Admission: from €20 per person. www.o-chateau.com.