Fernando & his Camino de Santiago

A lovely gentleman named Fernando Rojo (the star of this show!) sells Jens several lines of Spanish wines for J. Strecker Selections, our local import company. For the last couple of years he has made parts of the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, a lifelong dream of mine. I had so much fun following him this year on Facebook, that I decided to do a blog post of his trek with a little about the nearby wine lands as a side note.

[By the way, Fernando will be visiting the Seattle market from October 31-Nov 2, so stay tuned for tastings so that you meet him, hear his stories and taste his wines!]

UNESCO_World Hertiage_Camino de Santiago
For background on this historical pilgrimage>

In 2003, Fernando walked from O Cebreiro to Santiago de Compostela (7 days // 190 kms). Last year, he started in France (Saint Jean Pied de Port) and finished in his hometown of Burgos (10.5 days // 290 kms). This year, he did the middle section: Burgos to O Cebreiro (12 days // 360 kms), for a total of 29 days & 840 kms (approx 522 miles). Wow!

Here’s is story in pictures and a few words:


August 12 // Day 1:  Burgos – Hontanas (approximately 30 km)
“Here I go again. Hoy no aparqué mi polo en una zona no regulada para salir corriendo con las maletas y coger el autobús 🚌 con destino el aeropuerto. Hoy comenzó el tercer y último capítulo…”

Translation: Here I go again. Today I didn’t park my Polo (it is my car, my 21 year old Volkswagen Polo) in a unregulated area to run out with the bags and catch the bus 🚌 with the airport as my destination. Today started the third and last chapter…


August 13 // Day 2:  Hontanas – Boadilla del Camino (~ 30 km)

“Hoy me duele todo, pero aún no me he preguntado: pero qué coño hago yo aquí? Hoy con un campo de visión de más de 50 kms me he sentido el único ser vivo del planeta 🌍🌎”

Translation: Today everything hurts, but I haven’t asked myself yet: What the fuck am I doing here? Today with a field of vision of more than 50 kms, I felt like I was the only living being on the planet 🌍🌎


August 14 // Day 3:  Boadilla del Camino – Carrión de los Condes (~ 30 km)

“Al que no madruga Dios le da ración triple de vitamina D. Me compraría el paseo junto al Canal de Castilla. Qué bonito puede llegar a ser el silencio.”

Translation:  I didn’t wake up early, and sadly I didn’t catch the worm. I now have to walk many hours under the sun. But this may be God’s way of giving me a triple vitamin D ration. I would pay to walk next to the Canal de Castilla. How beautiful silence can be.


August 15 // Day 4:  Carrión de los Condes – Ledigos (~ 30 km)



August 16 // Day 5:  Ledigos – Bercianos del Real Camino (~ 30 km)

“No vuelvo a quejarme por la estar 12 horas sentado en un avión…”

Translation: I’ll never complain again about sitting 12 hours on a plane…


August 17 // Day 6:  Bercianos del Real Camino – Mansilla de las Mulas (~ 30 km)

“Ya vamos a más!”

Translation:  I feel better, I feel stronger!


August 18 // Day 7:  Mansilla de las Mulas – Valverde de la Virgen (~ 30 km)

“Primera semana completada. Que mal empecé el día, que dolores. Ya superé los 200 kms…”

Translation:  First week completed. How badly I started the day, what pains! I’ve already walked more than 200 kms…”


August 19 // Day 8:   
Valverde de la Virgen – Santibáñez De Valdeiglesias (~ 30 km)

“Hoy el radar me cazó…”

Translation: Today the radar hunted me…


August 20 // Day 9:   Santibáñez De Valdeiglesias – El Ganso (~ 30 km)

“Día amargo y no por el sabor de los antiinflamatorios: mi compañero tuvo que parar y visitar urgencias. Ya queda poco.”

Translation:  Bitter day and not for the taste of anti-inflammatory drugs: my partner had to stop and visit the ER. I am near the end.


August 21 // Day 10:   El Ganso – Molinaseca (~ 30 km)

“Si hay purgatorio hoy lo he cruzado. Más de 30 kms, con 18 bajando puro barranco. El demonio vino a visitarme…

Translation: If there’s purgatory today I’ve crossed it. More than 30 kms, with 18 down pure ravine. The Demon came to visit me…


August 22 // Day 11:   Molinaseca – Villafranca del Bierzo (~ 30 km)

“Si Dios quiere mañana completaré el Camino. 29 kms y un desnivel de 1.000 metros faltan”

Translation: If God wants tomorrow, I’ll complete the way. 29 kms at 1,000-meters still to walk.


August 23 // Day 12:   Villafranca del Bierzo – O Cebreiro (~ 30 km)

“Día 12 de 12. Hoy es nuestro día. Estuvimos juntos en 2003, 2017 y 2018…”

Translation: Day 12 of 12. Today is our day [talking to his t-shirt]. We were together in 2003, 2017 and 2018…

Fernando_Camino de Santiago_t-shirt_2018IMG_2930IMG_2931IMG_2932IMG_2933IMG_2934IMG_2935

“Gracias Camino!”

Translation: Thank you pilgrimage!

And thank you, Fernando, for sharing your trek with us! See you at the end of the month in Seattle!

Here are the wine regions along his “camino”:

Wine Folly_Spain_v3_square

Navarra and Rioja in orange, the northern part of Castilla y León in green including Bierzo and then Rias Baixas (home to Albariño) in pale blue on the Atlantic Coast. If the best you can do to experience the trek is learn about and drink wine from the lands from whence they came, then we support the effort!


Julie, co-owner with Jens
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections


Fresh Herbs + Wine

Greg's herbs_Sep 2018
Our neighbor and long-time customer, Greg, brings us herbs from his garden in summer. They are so beautiful and smell and taste so good, that it inspired us to do a food blog on dishes that show off fresh herbs… and the wines that go with them!

Greg's herbs_Sep 2018_Tarragon
TARRAGON (Greg’s beautiful gift pictured) — Here’s a terrific (and long!) list of recipes from Bon Appetit that include tarragon, a sweet, supple herb full of licorice flavors and used most often with chicken, fish or tomato dishes. Our suggested wine pairing for Tarragon is our September Wine of the Month: Castelfeder Wine’s Pinot Bianco. Delicate fruity and floral aromas on the nose. Flavors of ripe apples with citrus flowers & fresh pears linger under the minerality. Oh so good. Other varietals that would work: unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay, minerally Pinot Grigio, Grüner Veltliner and lighter reds such as Pinot Nero/Noir, Gamay, Zweigelt & plummy Merlot.

Greg's herbs_Sep 2018_Sage
SAGE – Strong and earthy, this herb pairs well with richer meats, often pork (and pork sausages), although when fresh and well-integrated, it can add the je ne sais quoi to something as simple as scalloped potatoes — See Scalloped Potato Skillet Gratin with Gruyère, Leeks & Black Pepper from Dinner: Changing the Game (page 258) by Melissa Clark. Killer! Wine pairing for sage? Riesling would be great for a white. Good reds would be Merlot blends (Bordeaux), Southern Rhône, reds with some good earth.

Greg's herbs_Sep 2018
ROSEMARY – Get ready to be walloped with fresh rosemary. It’s a robust, piney forest flavor that can over power (and kill wine) if you’re not careful. It’s most commonly used with grilled meats, especially lamb, and sometimes potato or egg dishes. Your wine should have some body and acidity to hold its own! Try: Riesling, Marsanne/Roussanne, Kerner or an Oregon Pinot Gris for a white. For red, go with a Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Zinfandel or Syrah/Shiraz. A nice, fuller-bodied Côtes-du-Rhône would be a delight. Sparkling would also pair well!

Greg, the giver of these beautiful herbs, recommends a recipe from Patricia Wells’ Food Lover’s Guide to Paris (1984) to put (a lot!!) of your rosemary to good use:

Rabbit or Chicken with Rosemary
1 fresh rabbit, 2½ to 3 pounds, cut into serving size pieces
1 cup dry white wine
1 quart water
1 medium onion, peeled and halved
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste
4½ cups fresh rosemary on the stem, or 1 cup dried rosemary
1 cup creme fraîche (or heavy cream)
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns

In a large skillet combine the rabbit (or chicken), wine, water, onion, carrots, bay leaves, thyme, salt, grated pepper and 4 cups of rosemary. If you are using dried rosemary, use the entire amount. Cover and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes. Remove the meat and set aside to cool. Strain the liquid into a medium-sized saucepan, discarding the herbs and vegetables. Over high heat, reduce the liquid to 2 cups. Meanwhile, remove the meat from the bones and cut the meat into bite-sized chunks. (You may do this up to several hours before serving.) Stem the remaining fresh rosemary. In a large skillet combine the reduced stock with the creme fraîche (or heavy cream) and the peppercorns. Simmer and stir until heated. Add the stemmed rosemary and the meat. Cook over medium heat until the flavors have blended and the meat is hot. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve with rice or pasta. Yield: 4 servings. While traditionally made with rabbit, you may also use chicken thighs in lieu of rabbit.

Greg's herbs_Sep 2018_Thyme_v2
THYME – Oh, sweet thyme… peppery, woodsy, lemony & minty flavors most often used in Mediterranean cooking, but easy and flexible across the board to add a little zing to vegetables, salads, pasta dishes and more. Wines? Try: Inzolia (a Sicilian white grape), Pecorino, or a Bordeaux blend (Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon) for a white. Prefer a red? Try Nero d’Avola, Barbera, Primitivo, Sangiovese or Garnacha. Here’s Bon Appetit’s list of recipes featuring thyme.

Greg's herbs_Sep 2018_Marjoram
MARJORAM – Floral & earthy. Subtle enough to use in vinaigrettes & salads, or roasted on fish, chicken, lamb & vegetables (especially mushrooms & eggplant)! Bon Appetit has a great list of recipes for marjoram. For the wine, it will of course depend on the meal, but try not to overpower it: Sauvignon Blanc for a white, Pinot Noir for a red.

Found a great webpage for info on herbs:
Quick Guide to Every Herb & Spice in the Cupboard>

Enjoy while these herbs are still fresh out of the garden!
Julie // co-owner
Portalis Wines