Archive for August, 2015

Friday, May 15th, 2015 – Dinner at El Descansillo

It’s probably no big secret that I’m a fan of social media. If you are reading this blog you probably follow me on one form or another (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram) already. When I started tweeting about all things Coruña / Galicia-related after my trip there in June 2014 (to walk the Camino de Santiago – English Route), I slowly started getting a few followers here and there from the area. One day, I got a new follower on Twitter, @El_descansillo, a restaurant located near Maria Pita Plaza in the old part of the city of A Coruña.  After my very first quick look at their tweets I knew immediately that this place was right up my alley, food-wise, and I pretty much decided right away that I’d be going there!

So, after a stroll through the old town, the casco viejo, on the Friday night of my arrival I made my way to the restaurant, arriving a little before 10 p.m.

El Descansillo = The Landing

Comfy and casual interior

Yes, at 10p.m. on a Friday night, I was the first to arrive for dinner!

The menu … where to even start??

Obviously, one starts with wine, especially in Galicia!

And with wine I did start. The Rías Baixas wine region in Galicia is known for their Albariño wine, so I asked if I could do a “wine flight” with a few small pours rather than full glasses. My waiter was on board with that plan. Although they were out of a couple of bottles, we still managed a small tasting to accompany my meal. The Troupe and Tabla de Sumar, both 100% Albariño, were very nice. So nice, in fact, that I circled back and did add a full glass of one to go with my entrée.

The meal began with a little amuse from the kitchen, crema de zanahoria con curry (cream of carrot with curry) with chive garnish.  It was more like espuma de zanahoria (carrot foam), and it was so delicious.  I was very happy that it was served with the tiniest little gold spoon to savor every little bit of it.

Crema de zanahoria amuse. Note tiny gold spoon and my first “tasting” glass of Albariño.

Typical bread from Galicia. It is served freshly cut in every restaurant and smells and tastes wonderful. Every time. No exceptions.

Then came my favorite starter: croquetas! These were croquetas de mejillón y erizo (mussel and sea urchin croquettes). Oh, they were so rich and creamy, y con sabor del mar (and tasted of the sea). Served with salad of mixed greens dressed with balsamic vinegar from Modena and a mixed fruit jelly.

Oooo, you can see how rich and creamy they are inside!

Galicia is known for its seafood, and sea urchin (erizo) was new on my list to eat this year, but pulpo (octopus) is ALWAYS on my list. This version was such a delight. It was pulpo sobre puré de pulpo (octopus over purée of octopus). Yes, the pulpo is so nice, they used it twice. The octopus on top was the traditional “feria” style (boiled and cut, sprinkled with paprika and olive oil), and the purée was smokey and creamy and just begged to be run through with the crusts of that delicious bread. Naturally, I was more than happy to oblige with another piece of bread. Accompanied by more Albariño, of course.

Pulpo over pulpo. So good!

The menu listed the item I selected as my main as being made with merluza (hake fish), but the waiter mentioned that they also had another local fish available, San Martiño, which sounded good to me so I ended up with San Martiño con pilpil de jamón ibérico con judías verdes y espuma de patata (fish with Iberian ham pil-pil with green beans and potato foam). In this case, the potato was way more creamy than foamy, and the amuse carrot dish was more foamy that creamy, contrary to the names. Either way, this was a fantastic presentation! San Martiño, John Dory in English, is a delicately flavored white, meaty fish that held up very nicely to the rest of the dish.  I was lucky enough to get to try this fish again a couple of times during my trip.

San Martiño – local Galician fish

… and, the bill …

Always Estrella Galicia!

What a great sign seen on the stroll back to the hotel. Yes, as a matter of fact, I would like to meet this King of the Ham.

Outside detail of El Rey del Jamón – it’s written in STONE, people!

The walk back to the hotel at midnight through the bar and restaurant lined pedestrian streets of the old town was a much more lively affair at midnight on a Friday night than it was at the 9 p.m. hour when I first strolled through. I had a big Saturday planned, so off to bed I went!

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So, where did we leave off?  I must apologize, dear reader, for the long (long!) delay in returning to the blog to tell you how my trip to Galicia in May 2015 went.  I really left you hanging there, and I am sorry!  So, I’m going to do a day-by-day recap starting now.  I’ll date the entries with the actual date being discussed so there’s less confusion.  Enjoy!!

Friday, May 15th, 2015 – Arriving A Coruña

There were some beautiful views on the approach into Coruña:

The square things in the water are shellfish farms. Galicia is absolutey known for its excellent shellfish – mariscos!


Towards the top in the middle is the beach at Cabañas, on the Camino Inglés. Towards the bottom are Mugardos and Ares, which I hope to visit the next time.

The wonderful thing about summertime in Galicia is that, compared to where I live in Arizona in the southwestern United States, it remains light out very late. So when my flight arrived around 8pm I knew there would be time to get out and explore a little while on my way to dinner.

I did have a moment of worry (note, not full blown panic, at least!) at the A Coruña (LCG) airport when my suitcase didn’t come out on the carousel with the rest of the bags. It turns out that luggage coming from the United States goes through a different area. I did find it … all by its lonesome on a separate carousel in another room.

Lonely little suitcase, the only arrival from the U.S.

LCG has free wi-fi so I was able to get online while waiting for my bag and send a couple of messages with the news of my arrival.

The ride into Coruña was uneventful, save for an interesting conversation with my Portuguese taxi driver. (Side Note: this was just the first of many interesting and sometimes enlightening conversations with taxi drivers)  Part of this friendly taxi ride conversation was about my visit, where I explained that I was there to walk the Camino. He commented that “anglo saxon” husbands (such as those from Great Britain, the US, Australia, etc.) must be less jealous than Spanish husbands. He could not imagine his wife leaving for 2 weeks to go walking around another country without him. To each his own, we agreed. He was kind enough to point me to the parking garage that I would need a few days later (at the Hotel Blue in Coruña), before dropping me at a different hotel I had selected for my first night.

Passing by the Port of A Coruña on the way into town.

Hotel Lois is located just two doors down on a pedestrian street, Rúa Estrella, located at the start of a long stretch of a really fun part of the old town with lots and lots (and lots!) of restaurants and bars. It is a lively scene on any night of the week with most places spilling out into the streets (pedestrian and non). The hotel was a very comfortable, small, (10 room) establishment above a restaurant of the same name (Restaurante Lois), done in a simple modern style.  My room had a nice little ‘gallery’ room, which is a balcony enclosed by framed glass, typical of the style of buildings in A Coruña.


Restaurant & Hotel Lois (black awning) – Restaurant on ground floor, hotel above.

A Coruña is called the “crystal city” due to the ubiquity of this modernist style of building, built in the late 1800’s / early 1900’s.  The view from my room was absolutely lovely.

Typical Coruñese building with framed glass galeries. Beautiful!

On the walk to dinner, I passed through some of the nice squares in the old town.


More typical Coruñese façades, and a very nautical themed statue. Trident!

I even saw one of the players from the local soccer team, Deportivo La Coruna (Lucas!), walking through the Obelisk plaza (below).

Obelisk – I have a photo of Lucas too, but it seems kind of stalker-ish to post it.

ah, Art Nouveau!


Art Nouveau façade detail


Plaza Maria Pita at dusk.


Maria Pita, herself

knock, knock

After a wonderful dinner at El Descansillo (that will be another post!), the view in Maria Pita square during the stroll home is perhaps even more beautiful after the sun goes down.

Nighttime Art Nouveau building detail.

See next post for details of my first fabulous meal in Galicia – El Descansillo.  The first of MANY fabulous meals!


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