In Navarra gastronomy is like its people, past, and landscape that shaped it; unique, rich, natural and noble.
This stunning region of the Pyrenees Mountains is extremely fertile, and prides itself on having a wide variety of natural produce and products, especially organic vegetables, mountain meats, delicious dairy products and world renowned wines.
In the Navarra Pyrenees you’ll find a long list of excellent restaurants, at which you can choose from menus that offer authentic, traditonal food, or from ones which have dishes that have been created by blending age-old recipes with more modern ones.
And if possible, don’t forget to check out one of Navarra’s colourful food fairs, festivals or farmers markets.
Here’s a list of typical foods and dishes to try, or buy while you’re in the Navarra Pyrenees mountains:
- Beef – “ternera”
- Usual cuts are T-bone steaks known as “chuleton” or solomillo, and are best done over a charcoal fire in “Asador” restaurants.
- To preserve the most flavour it’s suggested that you request the meat be cooked to “al punto” – (medium-rare, rare).
- Beef from almost every area of the Navarre Pyrenees mountains has been awarded the -Protected Geographical Indication status, which is the highest level of recognition in Europe for Designations of Quality Products.
- This label guarantees that the cow was born and raised in Navarre, that the breed is Pyrenean, and that the calves were milk-fed until the age of 6 or 7 months and were then put out to pasture and only fed organically.
- Although great steak can be found in most restaurants across the Navarre Pyrenees mountains, it must be mentioned that the T-bone steaks of the Baztan-Bidasoa area are said to be the best.
- Lamb- “cordero”
- The meat usually comes roasted, barbecued, or in a stew-“guiso”, “cocido”, or “estofado”.
- Lamb chops are common and are called- “costillas”, “costillicas” or “chuletillas”. They are typically grilled over embers that come from the burning of grape vines, creating an aromatic and unique flavour in the meat.
- Paté- “Foie”
- Duck- “confit de Pato”
- Game- “carne de caza” -eg. deer, rabbit, boar, partridge, pheasant etc.
- Trout -“trucha”
- Trout is commonly found in rivers of the Navarra Pyrenees mountains and is usually served with a slice of dry-cured ham, known as “Jamón”.
- “Chistorra”- natural dried red sausage.
- Cured sausage made from a blend of pork and beef, and seasoned with sugars, garlic, salt and paprika.
- Wild mushrooms- “setas”, “setas del bosque” (from the forest), or “hongos”.
- The best time to eat wild mushrooms is in Autumn.
- Truffles- “Trufas”
- The “Feria de la Trufa” takes place in December when people from different villages get together to collect truffles and watch demonstrations of how dogs, pigs and boars are used to find this delicious treasure.
- Cheese- “queso”
- The best known cheeses of the area, generally made from sheep’s milk, are from Roncal, and Idazábal. Roncal cheese is known as the ‘son of the Pyrenees’, and has been granted the important- Designation of Origin in Spain.
- Idazábal has been officially recognised as a European Culinary Heritage Product, and has been awarded the gold medal by the International Gastronomy Academy for being “one of the finest European cheeses.”
- Idazábal cheeses can be spotted by their small size and cylindrical shape. The rinds are and hard and smooth and usually range from light yellow to dark brown.
- Cheese lovers may want to visit Roncal during the festivals in August which honour the Virgin Mary, and see the exhibition and fair of Roncal cheeses.
- You can also visit the Cheese Museum in Uztárroz and learn all about the cheese-making process.
- The Idazábal cheese fair is held the last weekend of August. It’s called “Artzai Eguna” and is held in Uharte-Arakil. There are also auctions and sheepdog trials at this fair.
- Red beans- “alubias rojas”, or “pochas”
- These red beans, similar to kidney beans are often served in a soup or stew form.
- Natural apple cider- “cidra”
- Wine- “vino”. red- “tino”, rosé, white- “blanco”
- Liqueurs: “patxaran” ( or “basaka”)
- This is made from sloe berries and anis. Known as “sagarko” in Roncal, but made of crab apples instead of berries.
- Txantxigorri cake, or Aoiz Costrada
- Homemade pastries and cakes.
- Wafer cones with cream inside.
- Leche frita
- A type of custard, the literal translation would be- fried milk.
- Cuajada or Junket
- This is a sweetned milk based dessert that is very typical in the Pyrenees mountains and is eaten with honey or sugar.
- Gaztazar (old cheese)
- Like in France, cheese is sometimes eaten for dessert here. It could also be served with quince jelly and walnuts for a nice sweet and salty combination.
- Revuelto de setas/hongos
- Scrambeled eggs with wild mushrooms.
- Migas (de pastor)
- A typical hearty shepherd’s dish. Made from bread crumbs cooked with garlic, chorizo or chistorra, and served with melon or green grapes.
- Cod cooked in oil, garlic and tomato sauce with potatoes green and/or red peppers.
- Partridges cooked in chocolate.