A Morsel-Sized Post & An Ear Mystery

Eat: Mystery ears @ Umm No Solo Tapas

All over Spain, you’ll find chefs making artistic use of, well, the entirety of an animal. Brains (pig). Ears (also pig). Tongues (cow). Testicles (bull). These are often considered delicacies and my husband loves them, so any time I saw one of these stranger items appear on a menu, I’d order it. You have orejas? Sign us up! This way I got to expand my mind, teensy tinsy bites at a time, and leave Bojan to (gladly) finish the stranger dishes.

empanada de toro: This is exactly how I like my bull, wrapped in a pastry.

Never have I been as blissfully food-happy as I was during our brief stay in Logroño. Logroño is the somewhat sleepy capital of La Rioja, blessed with the Río Ebro and the grapes that the river nourishes just enough to make scrumptious wine. Follow the lush green riverbed route far enough out of the city and you’ll be jolted by an array of red rocks hanging in the background, a still beauty I hadn’t been on the lookout for.

Morning jog along the Río Ebro (photo courtesy BL)

And the tapas scene here delivers. In a mere 24 hours, I tried: Salmorejo & Cod puree, a pepper stuffed with beef and wrapped with bacon, a paté littered with forest berries, the best calamari sandwich of my life, a Tennessee-styled pulled pork sandwich, anchovies in rich olive oil, tuna tataki… I honestly can’t remember them all.

On our first clueless mission to fill our bellies, we stumbled upon Umm Tapas. Wherein our mouths began to salivate immediately. Wherein I also espied the phrase “oreja de t;sdkfjaskdf” and promptly ordered these mystery ears.

As I was buzzing with aforementioned food high and a knock-out rosé, I forgot to write this word down. I know that it began with a T and that it was a new animal word for me (unlike cerdo or toro), so I translated it right there at the table. Google image, which could have been mistaken, showed me something that looked like a pony. Dear reader, this was not the pig face I had expected to find. But I can’t solve this  mystery in retrospect– the restaurant has changed their menu, and I can’t find one single reference to the consumption of horse/pony/mule ear in Spain. My friends in San Sebastián assured me it must have been the ear of cerdo, or pig. In any case, here they are:

The salmorejo/cod combo I devoured, a perfect steak sandwich, & pig (?) ears in salsa

Whatever animal they  hailed from (I’m open to your theories), they were doused in a delicious salsa– a tomato-y, garlic-y sauce, just thinner than the salmorejo. The meat was gamey and chewy, and I detected the undeniable prick of… hair. I was generous and let Bojan finish them off. We’d ordered lots of other goodies, anyway.


Read: For Whom The Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway

“…do not try to trap me into thinking” –General Golz, p 8


I’ll admit, this recommendation is pretty obvious. But if you’re risking the origins of the above photo’d ears, maybe you re-read Hemingway. Besides, if you tour the Franco Españolas Winery, you’ll be coming across a familiar face:


And if you’re going to learn about guerrilla warfare, you might as well be drinking wine while doing so. That we did:

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For further reading & eating, see more:

Logroño, La Rioja:
I highly suggest just wandering around the main tapas streets in Logroño and ordering each spot’s specialty. No planning is really required. These are some spots we stumbled upon:

  • Umm No Solo Tapas (you can e-drool by watching this video)
  • Tastavin, because in Logroño it’s easy to stumble upon award-winning restaurants and grab a quick bite.
  • Torres Gastrobar. I hope they always have that calamari sandwich-ito on special, because holllly calamari it was good.
  • If you find a neon lit-bar called Tanasi, you’ll quickly learned the name’s not Cherokee but a local Spanish surname, and that they serve a mean jamón ibérico hot-pressed sandwich. I don’t have the address for you– remember ^^food high?

& for bookworms:

  • Librería Ochoa was closed when we happened by during siesta, but it seems like an awesome local book store that features local authors & hosts special events regularly.
  • La Plaquette is a specialty bookstore featuring harder-to-find books like poetry (!), comics, independent editions, magazines. According to their facebook page, they also put on special events– poetry readings and the like. I’m really sad we were only in Logroño for one day.
  • Cinéma Paradiso: “If you’re a cinophile, this is the place for you.”

3 thoughts on “A Morsel-Sized Post & An Ear Mystery

  1. Nice posts about your life in Spain. I had look at the content you write and I like your style. I’m writing you because of your interest on the American Bloggers Meetup event I will be hosting in September for Cooltourspain. I create the content on the blog at my site and would like to offer the opportunity to others of observing Spain from a local perspective.

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