Thursday, 1 September 2016

A Five Course Feast at Hotel Eguren Ugarte

Dining, Review, Hotel Eguren Ugarte, Laguardia, La Rioja, Spain Fdbloggers
During our two night stay at the utterly gorgeous Eguren Ugarte hotel, we enjoyed a memorable five course dinner in the restaurant. Also included was an aperitif and a half bottle of wine per person. And it was truly special, not least because of the location and the gorgeous views, even at night.

We had to make a reservation when we checked in – and although there are 10 rooms at the hotel, the restaurant only seated about 14. Unfortunately this meant we were too late to book a table the day we arrived, but thankfully we were okay for our second and final night. The tables for two are all around the edge, so offer amazing views on the vineyards and landscapes. We sat in the middle of the restaurant and while we could still have a view, a drink out on the terrace afterwards is definitely a must.

There was only one waitress serving the tables – Corrine – and this allowed for a great level of personal service. Although she spoke in Spanish throughout, she was friendly and enthusiastic. On a whole, the staff at the hotel were great; from the receptionist, to the breakfast team, nothing was ever too much trouble.
Dining, Review, Hotel Eguren Ugarte, Laguardia, La Rioja, Spain Fdbloggers
We began the meal with an amuse bouche – bonbon de foie – a small ball of foie gras, covered in hazelnuts, with a sticky balsamic glaze. This was truly divine and unlike anything I’d had before. I really loved the idea of tasting spoons too, this was a small morsel designed to eat in one mouthful.
Dining, Review, Hotel Eguren Ugarte, Laguardia, La Rioja, Spain Fdbloggers
Before the starter came out, the aperitif was brought out: a glass of white muscat wine. We’d previously tried this on the wine tasting tour of the bodega and I’d really liked it. It was sweet, with notes of peach and grapefruit and while it went well with the starter, it would have equally complemented the amuse bouche. I actually wish I had bought a bottle to bring home. Wine from the supermarket simply does not compare. The starter consisted of white asparagus on a bed of aioli, with halved tomatoes and cress. Despite being such a simple dish, it looked and tasted fantastic – it was fresh, light and the aioli wasn’t too heavy.

We then ordered the wine and it was another we were lucky enough to sample on the tour. It was a bottle of Crianza, a blend of tempranillo and garnacha – and it complemented both the fish and meat courses. I would never have dreamed of ordering a red wine to go with fish, always opting for a white wine, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Dining, Review, Hotel Eguren Ugarte, Laguardia, La Rioja, Spain Fdbloggers
 Dining, Review, Hotel Eguren Ugarte, Laguardia, La Rioja, Spain Fdbloggers
The fish was pan-fried hake, on a bed of caramelised onions, a rioja sauce and basil oil. The fish was perfectly cooked, the skin crisp and the flesh, almost meat-like, simply flaked off the fork. The onions were soft and subtle in flavour. The meat course soon followed and was Iberian pork cheek with apple cream and a tempranillo reduction. I had never had pig’s cheek – or any other cheek for that matter – before and it’s definitely not something I would choose to order in a restaurant, or the butchers. But it was nice. The meat was tender, like it had been braised – and it was definitely an experience trying it.
Dining, Review, Hotel Eguren Ugarte, Laguardia, La Rioja, Spain Fdbloggers
After a brief break and a couple more glasses of wine as we finished off bottle two between us, dessert was served and it contained more wine! The red wine sorbet was the perfect ending to the meal. In Spain, I love nothing more than a vodka or cava sorbet and the lemon wine mixture hit the spot nicely. It made a change from stodgy cakes or flans and it was lovely to try one of the Eguren Ugarte wines in a dessert, having drunk it by the glass and within sauces throughout the meal.

Everything about the evening was beautiful and once we had finished, we retired to the terrace for large glasses of Pacharán (or in my case, Irish cream) over ice. It was so peaceful, with the stars out and literally no noise at all. Everything about the stay was special, but that meal was definitely one I’ll remember for a long time.

Love, Lucy xx

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