Prevue July/August 2015 - (Page 47)

Navarra Spain Historic landscapes + cultural diversity ensure a story for every flavor [ON LOCATION] JOHNALEE JOHNSTON W ater rushes below the Mill of Amaiur in Spain's Baztan Valley, but it's the rain-like patter of corn being milled into puffs of flour that has captured my group's attention-that, and the promise of talos, a Basque specialty similar to Mesoamerica's corn tortilla. Here in the rolling Spanish Pyrenees, just a stone's throw from France, they stuff them with farm-fresh cheese, chorizo, bacon and chocolate-sure to have your group uttering "que rico!" in no time. Felipe Oyarzábal, who owns and operates the mill and overhead B&B, says the village's relaxed pace is quiet reprieve for some during Pamplona's hectic San Fermin festival. Sitting on a picnic bench beside a gushing waterfall, an oozing chorizo and cheese talo in one hand and Baztan cider in another, I'd venture to say his tastings and workshops also have something to do with it. As part of the Kingdom of Navarra, Amaiur-Maya is a peaceful stretch of land where shepherds still watch over their flocks and one could set a watch to a farmer's siesta. Like most bucolic settings, however, the hills also hold, and sometimes bury, the past. It was here that the Spanish brought the Kingdom of Navarra to an end after a 900-year rule. And, it was here in Baztan that thirsty pilgrims trekking the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) helped to keep Navarra's viticulture alive through the centuries-over 200 wineries now dot a region around 100 miles wide. Today, the valley adds a table full of American journalists to the mix, beckoning us to eat and drink like kings. True-to-culture F&B experiences like these hallmarked our 6-day jaunt through Navarra, discovering in the end what Francisco Glaria, director of Novotur Guides, told us to expect from the beginning: "Spanish magic-making life comfortable and beautiful-is Basque heritage. Spain is much more than paella." MOMENTS NOT MEALS Navarra's culinary scene revolves around the seasons. The result is a hyperlocal foodie culture keen to create moments instead of meals. Geographical diversity almost ensures that every region specialize in something-according to Glaria, "now is the moment for white asparagus" in the quaint town of Olite, the seat of the Royal Kingdom in medieval times. Farm-fresh vegetables and wines are the pièce de résistance here, considered the geographical food & beverage center of Navarra. Local businesses, like the medieval Parador de Olite hotel, thrive on the farming cooperatives that deliver fresh, organic produce, a.k.a. a table of perfection. The palace, once elaborately donned with fairy-like gardens, whimsical towers and even a zoo, can be rented for cocktail receptions-a light Homenage rosé or another of 100 wine varieties surely on the menu. Be sure to bring your group by the pozo del hielo (ice well), | 43

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue July/August 2015

Planner’s Pick: Washington, D.C
Fresh Meets: Loews Hotels & Resorts
Bureau Buzz: Las Vegas CVB
Good Business: The Empty Suitcase Campaign
Sea Shores: Foodie Cruises on the Rise
Culinary Combos
On Location: Puerto Rico
On Location: Dominican Republic
On Location: Le Meridien New Orleans
Checkout: Gyeongwonjae Ambassador Hotel

Prevue July/August 2015