84 Photos - Oct 8, 2012
Photo: Since this was a gastronomic trip we thought we should feature food. 
 It all starts at the market.  This is La Boqueria in Barcelona.Photo: Notice the price of the Iberico hams -- a dry, flavorful, concentrated ham .  
$250 Euro per kilo equals about $150 a pound.Photo: Photo: Morels.Photo: Photo: Putting the final touches on paella at La Boqueria's cooking school where we cooked our own almuerzo (main meal at 2-3pm)Photo: A few barrels in the cava (Spanish sparkling wine) cellars at Freixenet.Photo: The variety of cava bottles available.Photo: Next stop, Girona -- originally a Roman settlement inside medieval walls with a large Jewish quarter.Photo: First four appetizers at Bubble Gastro Restaurant in Girona, an extraordinary restuarant in a small city--a real find.Photo: The second four.Photo: The main course was beef cheeks.  This is the most tender non-organ meat we have ever eaten.Photo: Lunch at Bubble.  Of course we had good wine with both lunch and dinner.  
Our tour had 15 travelers plus the coordinator.  In each region we also had a local guide.Photo: Pineapple and Orange dessert at the Hotel Duran restaurant where Dali dined..Photo: The olive oil tasting.Photo: Monkfish at the seafood market.Photo: You have to respect a woman who can handle a big knife.Photo: Jamon Iberico.  The darker ham on the left from a pig with the black foot is more prized than the other one.Photo: Cooking class at the Costa Brava Center -- a excellent culinary school.Photo: The extraordinary tapas of Alex Mugica, located in the Hotel Del Rey in Pamplona.Photo: The crab/anchovy salad.Photo: The tomato and shrimp salad.  Note the droppers with truffle oil.Photo: Eggs with seasonal ratatouille.Photo: The source of Idiazabal cheese.Photo: A Basque style house next to the sheep farm.Photo: Tasting Idiazabal cheese.Photo: Pat sniffs the rennet (comes from sheep's stomach) used for making cheese.  Rennet turns milk into curds and whey.Photo: Typical of the salads served with the lighter evening meal.  A Spanish tortilla followed -- 
a thick omelet which is mainly potatoes with other additions.Photo: Hondarrabi Zuri grapes used in Tzakoli wine, a unique Basque dry white wine 
which is drunk within one year of bottling.Photo: Txakoli tasting.Photo: Scrambled eggs, roasted red pepper and a little chicken stock make an interesting appetizer.Photo: Leek and squash soup topped with potato foam.Photo: The fish course.Photo: Beef cheeks on a nut sauce with a beef reduction topping.Photo: Chocolate mousse with a cocoa dusting.Photo: A bar in San Sebastion loaded with pinchos (smaller version of tapas).Photo: Another pincho bar--notice the hams hanging from the ceiling.Photo: Dinner at La Pearla in San Sebastion.  A fancy restaurant on the beach whose dining room looks like the inside of clam.Photo: Steve makes a new friend in Hora, center of the La Rioja wine region.Photo: Robert gets a shoe shine.Photo: Reserva aging in La Rioja.Photo: Appetizers at Cune winery in La Rioja.Photo: Photo: Photo: Corona is a sweet late harvest white wine made in La Rioja for over 100 years.Photo: Ox tail at the Cune winery.Photo: Our last dinner was more about the culture than the food as we dined at a men's gastronomical club in Bilboa.  
This flute player in the acknowledged master of the Basque 3 hole flute, even though he is missing 
1 1/2 fingers on his left hand.  Right hand plays the drum.Photo: This meal was finished off with the first grapes of the season -- all are used in winemaking.Photo: Another tasty dish.  Elena was our trip coordinator.  When she is not planning or leading trips for the 
Center for Cross Cultural Studies she teaches English (with an Aussie accent) and dances Flamenco professionally. (Cell phone photo.)Photo: This unusual light pattern...Photo: was caused by this dramatic cloud display.  The variety and intensity made us remember the clouds in Dali paintings.Photo: The medieval bridge in Hora, center of the La Rioja wine district.Photo: Now to the arts -- The Gaudi House and Museum in Parc Guell, Barcelona.  The park was originally designed to be a housing development 
but only two houses were built.  However, the public spaces were completed and now makes a fine park.Photo: One of the Gaudi designed buildings in Parc Guell, now a gift shop.Photo: Parc GuellPhoto: Entrance to Parc Guell.Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Gaudi Parc Guell detail.Photo: Gaudi multi-purpose building in central Barcelona.Photo: The view from the National Museum of Catalonia.Photo: Sagrada Familia (Sacred Family) Basilica designed by Gaudi and is still under construction after 140 years.Photo: Sacred Family interiorPhoto: Photo: Photo: The Dali Museum in Figueres which Dali designed and worked and lived during his last 15 years of life.Photo: Courtyard of the Dali Museum.Photo: This painting up close includes a nude of his wife but at a distance looks like a portrait of Lincoln.Photo: Dali self-portrait on the ceiling.Photo: A small fishing village where we stayed on the Costa Brava.Photo: View of the Mediterranean from Calella de Parafrugell.Photo: Public square in ZaragossaPhoto: The beach in San Sebastion on the Atlantic side.Photo: Part of the Wind Comb park, natural rock formations enhanced with sculpturesPhoto: StevePhoto: Photo: Old part of San Sebastion.Photo: A fakir levitates in San Sebastion.Photo: Interior of the Guggenheim in Bilbao.  Bilbao was a gritty, declining industrial city until Basque authorities 
approached the Guggenheim Foundation in 1991 with the idea for this museum.  
Frank Gehry won the design competition and the building was finished in 1997.Photo: A bridge near the Guggenheim.  Our hotel was just across the river.Photo: This building in difficult to capture with a camera.Photo: The largest installation in this museum, The Matter of Time, is mind warping when you walk inside the sculptures.Photo: We finished our trip here and left the next day even though there was a nation wide "strike" -- a very restrained one.  Although Pat doesn't like tours, 
once again Road Scholar really made it memorable and not easy to duplicate on your own.