The snow is gone, the winter sport season over, and the hoards of skiers dressed in radioactive greens and yellows have been replaced in the hills around Ezcaray by a smaller but determined group of more demurely dressed pleasure seekers. These are the foragers who are not after adrenaline rushes but the deep, inner contentment that comes from finding and devouring some of the exquisite spring mushrooms now in season.
Of course, not everyone can make it up the slopes and this is where the local restaurants come in. It’s an exciting time for chefs who, after months of winter paucity, are suddenly inundated with loads of fresh produce.
Pictured here in photos I took for Diario La Rioja is Nicolás Fuentes, chef at Restaurante La Cuerva de Doña Isabela, Casalareina, La Rioja, preparing a spring mushroom dish. And below a couple of Francis Paniego’s dishes – spring artichokes and baby peas – from the spring menu at El Portal del Echaurren, in Ezcaray.