Sunday April 21st, 2013 08:52 AM
El Portal del Echaurren, Ezcaray’s Michelin starred restaurant, has opened its doors with a new menu after the winter break. This year the dishes are designed not just around local products but also the history, sociology and even geology of this corner of La Rioja.
Take, for example, the “marine fossil” dish above. During the Cretaceous period, the land where Ezcaray is sited today was under the sea. You can find fossilised gastropods (snails etc) in the surrounding mountains. Chef Francis Paniego has incorporated barnacles, cockles, scallops into the dish and also “edible fossils” made from seaweed and seafood broths.
Other dishes on the menu include “The River Fish that Dreamed of the Sea” – based on the trout that migrate along the River Oja – and “The Wool”, lamb sweetbread wrapped in candy-floss in a nod to the area’s traditional textile industry.
Thursday November 29th, 2012 10:16 AM
Sports stars, successful artists and business leaders famously have it and so too, it seems to me, do the winemakers I’ve been visiting over the past couple of weeks. The ‘it’ I’m referring to is devotion to what they do.
I’ve been photographing a number of them for Diario La Rioja’s annual wine supplement. At Marqués de Riscal in Elciego, Javier Salamero spoke with tenderness & love about the historic wines on offer. Of course you could argue that he was preaching to the converted as the photo above seems to suggest.
In San Vicente de la Sonsierra I found two mega construction projects. Jose Manuel de Bodegas Viña Ijalba has flattened the top of a sizeable hill by 10m to make a plateau on which he has planted grape varieties from all over the world.Nearby Marcos Eguren has excavated a laberinth of huge tunnels to provide storage for the Sierra Cantabria winery that is being constructed above.
And in Samaniego I watched as Fernando Remírez de Ganuza, who makes some delicious wines, went mosquito hunting. It reminded me of a Monty Python sketch but underlined his dedication to the cause. And made a nice photo too!
Thursday October 11th, 2012 02:53 PM
“How are you managing to take photos in this light without flash?” This is a question which, as the days get shorter, I hear more and more often.
Well I’ve got two tactics. The first, which works well with reportage photography, is to spend the first couple of minutes after entering a room looking at the light sources. I normally take a quick snap too as the camera picks up light which I haven’t spotted. Once I know where the light is, it’s a question of waiting for something to happen there. Normally, this means waiting for the subject to move into the light so it falls on his or her face, like in the bottom two pictures. But it could mean shooting into the light, like with the picture above of Angelines Gonzáles Hernández, of Della Serra ice cream parlour.
My second tactic, which works with portrait photography, is to drag the person or people to wherever there’s nice light. That’s what I did with the picture below of Agustín Santolaya, of Bodegas Roda, signing a chair after giving a presentation in Francis Paniego’s Tondeluna restaurant earlier this week. It’s the same idea in the next picture of María José López de Heredia, of Bodegas López de Heredia and friends at a recent wedding in Hotel Echaurren, Ezcaray, La Rioja. So long as I’m courteous and not asking them to move a mile, I find people are willing to go along with my rather unorthodox approach.
Saturday August 18th, 2012 02:40 PM
The first thing that Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga, the count of Creixell & owner of Marqués de Murrieta winery, said to me was: “How long do you need to take my portrait? One hour or two?”
Brilliant!! So often on comercial assignments, I get no more no more than 10 minutes to photograph the boss. The resulting photos are fine, and sometimes a combination of spontaneity and my inner desperation leads to surprisingly good results.
But Vicente’s opening gambit, apart from putting me at ease, revealed his understanding and respect for the craft of photography. Namely that having time to think and some trial and error allows for creativity and leads excellent results. And that’s in both our interests.
The photos are published in this month’s Decanter Magazine.
Monday July 30th, 2012 12:02 PM
Standing with the stray cats on the dusty street outside Riad Idrissy there’s no hint of the scale and beauty of what lies within. Located in the heart of the labyrinth of ancient passageways that make up Fez Medina, a UNESCO world heritage area, the front of the hotel looks like just every other door.
However, step inside and it’s hard not to be swept away by the splendour. The four ornately decorated rooms are located around a central internal patio open to the sky. Each is huge with 4m high ceilings which are carved or painted. When you lie on the bed you feel like the ranks of the nobility that once owned it.
It’s difficult to take a bad photograph of such a splendid place. But also it’s difficult to take a photograph that really captures the magic. I think the trick to finding the soul of something is to spend time getting to know it. So Robert Johnstone, the manager, closed the hotel for four days and we tried different shots in different light. Once we’d done the hotel, we moved on to the adjacent Ruined Garden which is due to open as a restaurant in September.
It would be a great place to get married. And if you do, let me know I’d love to take your wedding photos there!
Client testimonial: “your shots are so fab…….very pleased”.