Navarra’s physical geography, including its unique centrality at the confluence of Atlantic, Continental, and Mediterranean climates, makes for a complex mosaic of soils and microclimates–home not only to a remarkably versatile range of wines but also to a diverse bounty of meat and produce, both wild and domesticated: wild mushrooms, game birds, brook trout, rich and fatty lamb, and an extraordinary array of vegetables well known throughout Spain.
Thanks to that natural bounty, Navarra is home to many of Spain’s most celebrated conservas, white asparagus and fire-roasted piquillo peppers chief among them. You’ll also find first-rate foie gras and fine embutidos (charcuterie) here, like the region’s piquant Txistorra sausage, and two of the world’s finest shepherd’s cheese, Roncal and Idiazabal–nutty, meaty and buttery gems made from the raw milk of native Latxa sheep, coagulated using only natural animal rennet.
(It is also worth noting that the very same sheep’s milk used in the production of the aforementioned cheese is also employed in the production of one of the world’s greatest, if largely unsung, desserts: cuajada, a deeply satisfying, sweetened curdled milk whose three-pronged attack of deliciousness–buttery, sweet, just slightly savory–is as transformative a dessert experience as you’re likely to encounter anywhere in the world.)
Navarra’s capital, Pamplona enjoys a vibrant pintxos culture and a cosmopolitan fine-dining scene, with a growing number of destination restaurants popping up all across the Navarran countryside helmed largely by chefs whose interest in making the most of the region’s prodigious vegetable bounty borders on the obsessive, with delicious results.
© Photo Credit: Ayuntamiento de Pamplona