Tasteful romance of Rioja, España, ‘chorizos’
By Reggie Aspiras
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 07:33:00 09/24/2009

Filed Under: Food

MANILA, Philippines—I received Rioja chorizos last week from old friend Rissa Oreta. She said she was sending them on behalf of her sister Karmela. A few days ago, Karmela e-mailed me:

“Hello Reggie,

I understand that you had tried the chorizo from La Rioja.

My husband David is from there and couldn’t get enough of their wine and food. So, we decided to put up an online shop called Rioja Gourmands.

The inspiration for it stems from our love for all types of quality Spanish food that even Spaniards themselves are in search of.

These products cannot be bought at the usual grocery but only at local specialty stores across the country and these are the products we aim to bring to your homes in Manila.

Rioja is home to unique produce, the best known would be wine.

The use of pimenton and chorizo in dishes across Spain, led to a common label of “... à la Riojana”—“patatas à la Riojana, conejo à la Riojana, etc...” which, usually denotes the use of pimentos, chorizo or pepper as part of its preparation.”

Sorzano is a traditional Rioja village of about 250 people. With an altitude of 720 meters, the village is in the higher mountains of the Iregua valley where the air is fresh and pure, where the oldest buildings date back to the 16th century.

The village’s oldest tradition is the procession of the 100 brides, commemorating the taxes paid to the Moors by the Christians during the Moor invasion of Spain.

The Moncalvillo’s of Sorzano, like many families in Rioja, have been making chorizos the traditional way for generations.

Their grandfather, in the early 1900s, was a shepherd who, during spring and summer cared for other farm animals, including pigs, the source of meat for chorizo.

In the ’70s, the shepherd’s daughter, Humildad and Humildad’s son Carlos opened a butcher’s shop.

Both eventually decided to concentrate on the production of chorizo, just as they’ve been making them for their own family’s consumption for generations. Apart from chorizo, the Moncalvillo’s as well, make salchichons and a non-spicy Rioja chorizo variant.

Stringent with quality, Humildad and Carlos follow the strict traditional curing process of 35-40 days at the Moncalvillo facilities, there are no short cuts which is perhaps why, Embutidos Moncavillo rank as one of the best, if not the best, in Rioja.

We are bringing in other products such as their non-spicy chorizo and salchichon and adding jamon—pata negra to our list of products by next month, just in time for the holiday season. We are now sourcing our holiday packaging.

Sent directly from Spain, our supplies are limited. For bulk orders, please give us ample time.

Deliveries can be made in Makati and Alabang, depending on quantity. Call 0917-5331371, 0922-8505658 or 0919-4942362. Or check out our virtual shop at”


Subtle yet flavorful

Moncalvillo chorizos have a character of their own—nice strong, full bodied, robust, with a bit of spice that gives out a nice subtle yet flavorful kick.

As an ingredient, it is rather economical since a little of it, on your recipes, goes a long way in terms of flavor.

Aside from eating it as is, this is what I did to the remaining Rioja chorizo. Yum!

Pasta with Rioja Chorizo, Prawns and Sundried Tomatoes
1 500 g pack of linguine or penne cooked al dente

1/3 c olive oil
1 Rioja chorizo, chopped
1/3 c garlic, thinly sliced
Pepper flakes, to taste
½ k shrimps, peeled and de-veined
½ c sun-dried tomatoes
½ c coriander leaves, snipped or flat leaf parsley chopped
¼ c pasta water (water where pasta was boiled from, plus-minus)
2 tbsp cream
2 tbsp chilled butter
Heat olive oil.
Add chorizo and cook until slightly browned.
Add garlic and pepper flakes allow to cook for a minute.
Add shrimps and sun-dried tomatoes.
When shrimps change color add in coriander or parsley.
Add and toss pasta.
Add pasta water a little at a time adding just enough to coat the noodles.
Add cream and butter.
Season to taste.

Note: Pasta should be coated in sauce but with no extra sauce dripping off them.
Garnish with coriander or parsley sprigs. I deep fried my coriander sprigs and dried them on paper towels before using it as garnish.

You may add a little bit of fried garlic and more pepper flakes to garnish your pasta.
Serve with freshly grated parmesan and pepper flakes on the side if you wish.

Cooking class sked

My New Holiday Cooking Class Schedules (tel. 9289296, 9273008, 6474744 or 0908-2372346) including the Holiday Gourmet Cocinera Series for household cooks and beginners are out.

E-mail the author at raspiras