The Ebro Delta – Providing food for the plate.

Spain’s most famous dish is Paella, which has a base of bomba rice, 75% of which is produced in the Ebro Delta. At the town of Amposta, where there are several rice packaging plants, the Ebro River disperses its constant flow of water through the canals and irrigation channels of the Delta. In summer the fields are a DSCF2962lush green of planted rice but when I visit in January, they are full of still water which reflects the mountains and the herons who patiently wait for a fish or frog to pass by. But even outside the rice growing months the Delta provides plenty of food for the plate including fish, eels and ducks.
I base myself at La Casa de Fusta Restaurant, named after the green-painted, wooden hunting house which stands next door and now houses an interpretation centre providing information about the area. The restaurant is also Motorhome friendly, providing a large parking area and services. They have a selection of caged animals and birds to amuse the children and to annoy overnight guests who have to listen to the donkeys, peacocks and cockerels. They also hire bicycles and the Delta is an ideal place to cycle. DSCF2963It’s flat and the agricultural tracks which criss-cross the rice fields are free of traffic. I don’t see many people as I peddle the 12kms around Lake Encacyissada, which is named after the reeds which cling to its edges. I do find a small group of flamingos and strategically placed viewpoints/bird hides offer nice panoramas of the lake, the delta and the mountains beyond. Other bird which I see during my stay include egrets, black-headed herons, cormorants, black-winged stilts, a curlew, loads of different gulls and terns and some beautiful northern lapwings. I also spot several raptors such as kites, kestrels and possibly an osprey, though I was driving at the time and couldn’t look too closely for fear of ending up in one of the flooded rice fields!
montsia riceBack at the restaurant I am tempted by the menu which is rich with local delicacies. As I’m not paying to stay in the car park I decide I should at least contribute to the local economy by tasting their dishes. The fish soup is overflowing with mussels, prawns and chunks of cuttlefish, while the slow roasted duck with artichokes and rovella mushrooms is flavoursome and perfectly complimented by the glass of Penedas rose. Unfortunately the rich local food cancels out all the calories lost during the morning bike ride. I didn’t get to taste a dish with the local rice but when I ask for the bill I’m given a small box of bomba rice from Amposta, so perhaps I will make my own paella.

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