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Archive for the ‘2015’ Category

Date of Visit: October 2015

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O Grove is located on the western coast of Galicia, about 45 minutes by car from Santiago de Compostela and 1.5 hours from A Coruña.

For those who don’t know, the weekends in Galicia are full of festivals. Seriously, so many festivals all throughout the year. Every city or town, large or small, has at least one festival during the year. O Grove, Galicia, is no exception to this rule.  Known as the “paraíso marisco” (shellfish paradise), O Grove has celebrated the annual Festa do Marsico (Shellfish Festival) for two weeks every October since 1963.  Each fall, for more than 50 years now, O Grove becomes a hub of activity and a gathering point for people from all over Galicia, Spain, Portugal, and the rest of the world in exaltation of the local bounty of shellfish and seafood that are abundant there.

In addition to the culinary activities, including cooking demonstrations, various cooking contests, and the tents set up for sampling all of the wonderful seafood, the fortnight’s schedule is packed with concerts nearly every night, folk dancing, traditional music, informative lectures, arts and crafts expositions, and many other family friendly activities.

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Which way should we go?  The festival is very organized with clear directions to the various tents.

These beautiful ladies proudly showing off their traditional dress before their folk dancing performance. Traditional music and folk dancing under one of the tents being broadcast on local Galician television.

The 52nd annual Shellfish Festival in O Grove, Galicia.  October 1-12, 2015

Site map of the Festa do Mariscos

Festa do Mariscos – highly organized with informative maps provided.

Price List – 2015 Festa do Marisco

Gallego – Spanish – English Menu
Ameixas – Almejas – Clams
Berberechos – Berberechos – Cockels
Camarón – Camarón – Shrimp
Cigalas – Cigalas – Langoustine (Norway lobster)
Croquetas – Croquetas – Croquettes
Marisco – Marisco – Shellfish
Mexillóns – Mejillones – Mussels
Navallas – Navajas – Razor Clams
Nécora – Nécora – Velvet Crab
Ostra – Ostra – Oysters
Pan – Pan – Bread
Percebes – Percebes – Goose Barnacles
Polbo – Pulpo – Octopus
Rodaballo – Rodaballo – Turbot
Vieira – Vieira – Sea Scallop
Zamburiñas – Zamburiñas – Bay (Variegated) Scallop
Filloas – Crepas – Crepes
Torta de Santiago – Tarta de Santiago – Santiago Cake (almond cake)

The main tent is set up next to the actual lonxa (fish market) of O Grove. The stalls that normally sell seafood as an open market during the rest of the year are transformed into one big gathering hall during these two weeks in October, where people come from all over to enjoy the seafood, shellfish, local wine, and social time with friends. The whole thing is extremely organized. Signs in Spanish and English indicate where each stand is located. Long tables line up along the entire length of the tents where friends and families gather to enjoy the culinary delights.

Finally! Seafood! Zamburiñas (variegated scallops – left) and Pulpo a Feria (fair style octopus – right). The embossed wooden pulpo plate made for a wonderful souvenier to bring home.

img_8378-2This blogger was VERY happy to be enjoying the Festa do Marisco.  I hope everyone attending the 2016 Festa has as much fun as we did last year!


The 53rd annual Festa do Marisco takes place in O Grove, Galicia, October 6-16, 2016

Festa do Marsico website (link)

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

An excellent strategy for learning or improving foreign language skills is to immerse oneself in media of the target language. Newspapers, television shows, blogs, YouTube,  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, Snapchat, the list of resources available online goes on and on. In my case, I’ve been working to improve my Spanish language skills and begin to learn the Galician language, so I’ve been utilizing all of the above to improve my fluency and at the same time learn a bit more about Galicia.

Come e Fala (Eat and Talk) is a culinary themed weekly talk radio show on Radio Galega, based out of Santiago de Compostela, that I first discovered via Twitter. It airs from 1 – 2 p.m. on Sundays in Galicia, which is 4 – 5 a.m. Arizona time. Due to that early hour, I have never actually listened to it live (except when in Galicia), but rather listen to it later in the day or week as an online podcast. Last April, the two chefs that opened A Horta do Obradoiro appeared on Come e Fala and it just sounded like a place that I would like. The show’s host, José Manuel García, then made this great video introducing the place:
A Horta do Obradoiro  on YouTube: Comer e Falar con José Manuel García en A Horta do Obradoiro

So, the night before I was about to complete my second Camino (the Portuguese Route of the Camino de Santiago), I was staying in a hotel with about 8 kilometers left to walk to the Cathedral (the Camino’s end point). I needed to go into Santiago to find a pharmacy for some supplies for the wounded toe, so thought I might as well enjoy a nice meal. Surely nobody could find fault with this logic! And I knew just the place.

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  The restaurant had been open only a few weeks at the time of my visit, but the service was extremely polished and I would have never guessed.

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There are two sides to the menu: Raices (Roots) represents more traditional Galician fare and A nosa cociña (Our kitchen) is where the chefs show more of their creative side.

The specials board (above, left) titled O que o mar nos deu (that which the sea has given us), was a long list of seafood specials. I arrived at 8 p.m., the very beginning of the dinner service, hence the empty dining room (above, right). By the time I left the place was nearly full. It was a chilly evening so I sat in the dining room, but there’s a beautiful garden space outside (just on the other side of the window you see in the photo above) that would be absolutely lovely in nice weather.

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Gazpacho amuse to start, compliments of the kitchen. Fresh and light!

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From the specials board: Croquetas de bacallau – Salt cod croquettes. I wish I had taken a photo of the insides of these wonderful little croquetas. Perfectly creamy and so, so flavorful.

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From the creative side of the menu: Listado en tempura, guacamole e tomato picante – Tuna tempura over guacamole with spicy roasted tomato. This was just excellent and it paired nicely with the Albariño wine I had with the starters.

 

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From the traditional side of the menu:  Polbo a Mugardesa – Octopus Mugardos style. Mugardos is a charming coastal fishing village on the northern coast of Galicia, near Ferrol (the starting point of the English Route of the Camino de Santiago). Called Pulpo a la Mugardesa in Spanish, this regional recipe is made of octopus stewed with potatoes, onions, red and green peppers, garlic, and paprika. This dish was delicious and one day I would love to try the version as they make it in Mugardos.

 

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Filloas acarameladas – Caramelized Galician crepes for dessert. This was my first time tasting this classic local specialty, but certainly not the last. These were filled with custard and then brûléed to caramelize. Fantastic!

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Kike Piñeiro, Vanesa Vera Avola, and Eloy Cancela in action! It was a pleasure to watch these young talented chefs running the kitchen at full steam.

A Horta do Obradoiro is located just a few steps down from the Praza do Obradioro the main plaza which faces the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela (the ending point of the Camino de Santiago) and is right across the street and just a few doors down from the only Michelin star restaurant in Santiago de Compostela, the legendary Casa Marcelo. That’s a lot of talent on one street, and makes this area a real culinary destination in Compostela.


A Horta do Obradoiro
Rúa Das Hortas 16, 15705 Santiago de Compostela, Spain (map)
+34 881 03 13 75

Website: www.ahortadoobradoiro.com
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/ahorta.doobradoiro
Twitter: www.twitter.com/HortaDObradoiro

Kike Piñeiro Instagram: www.instagram.com/franciscokikepineiro
Kike Piñeiro Twitter: www.twitter.com/FranKikePineiro
Eloy Cancela Twitter: www.twitter.com/eloy_cv

Come e Fala – Airs every Sunday on Radio Galega with podcast available on the website.
Come e Fala Website:  www.crtvg.es/rg/programas/come-e-fala
Come e Fala Facebook: www.facebook.com/comeefala
Come e Fala Twitter: www.twitter.com/comeefala1

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dear reader, you may have noticed that my posts are not in chronological order. It was my original intent to write posts in the order in which they occurred, but that plan went out the window and I’ve just been writing about each place as the inspiration strikes. Today, it occurs to me that I really can’t go one more week without showing you the beautiful meal at Casa Solla that I had last year right in the middle of my walk on the Camino de Santiago, on the Portuguese Route. This was my first Michelin star fine dining experience in Galicia and it set the bar high.


On this particular Tuesday, had I walked into the town of Caldas de Reis early, around 12:30 in the afternoon. I could have continued walking in order to make for a shorter stage the following day, but decided instead to call Casa Solla to see if they had availability for lunch. They did! After a quick shower and change of clothes, I arrived at the restaurant in Poio, located just outside of Pontevedra, for my 2:30 p.m. reservation.

 Exterior signage at Casa Solla

My corner table – what a view!

I can think of no better way to kick off this afternoon meal than with this beautiful glass of Raventós i Blanc De La Finca, an elegant and serious cava (Spanish sparkling wine).

In addition to a full traditional menu, there were three tasting menus offered. After not much deliberation at all I selected the middle one, El menú gastronómicoun viaje de temporada (The gastronomic menu – a seasonal voyage), which was described as nine courses plus snacks/appetizers and chocolates served with coffee.

The table setting was clean and simple; the potted cactus made me feel right at home (since I live in Arizona where cactus abound). The first amuses to arrive were really something special. At the top left (above) is a romesco ‘peanut’, top right a cheese ‘olive’, and in the shell plate at the bottom a ‘taco’ made out of a thin slice of what tasted like radish and a tiny piece of toast with two small dollops of fish pâté. Just one or two bites each, these innovative little tastes did impress.

 

A cup of tea?  No, this was actually intensely flavored onion broth served in a beautiful  Sargadelos (or, if not Sargadelos, at least Sargadelos-like) teacup personalized with the name Casa Solla. I savored the rich, intensely flavorful, and soul warming ‘tea’ before the main courses began to arrive.

 

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Choco en ensalada cítrica (cold cuttlefish citrus salad). So light, so fresh.

Vieiras y zamburiñas en degustación (tasting of two kinds of scallops)

Served on this rock. With tweezers. There’s a first time for everything and this was definitely the first time I’d eaten with tweezers. Each separate preparation of the different types of fresh local scallops was unique, and each one was better than the last. Phenomenal.

IMG_3406Called simply la patata (the potato) on the menu, these fried potato batons were topped with “ketchup”, a tiny fried onion ring, and edible garlic flowers. Pretty and satisfying.

IMG_3409El pescado del día, esparrago blanco amargo y salsa rojo picante (Fish of the day, bitter white asparagus with spicy red sauce and macadamia nut). The fish of the day was a lovely local San Martiño (John Dory), from the ría (estuary) that I could see from my window seat.

IMG_3456Why is it that things prepared tableside seem to taste better? Perhaps even better yet when they are smoked tableside. Filloa-fajita de ‘raxo’ adobado y ahumado was takeoff of fajitas using the Galician filloa (crepe) as the tortilla dotted with sauces and edible flowers then topped with intensely flavored Galician style marinated pork that received a final bit of smoke tableside. This may have been my favorite plate of the day.

 

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When in Spain, I generally like to focus on Spanish wines but this Champagne was suggested to accompany the fish courses, and I was wise to not turn it down. With the heavier meat dishes, this Mencia (think Pinot Noir) from Ribeira Sacra region (located in the southeastern part of Galicia) made for the perfect pairing.

 

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Taco de vaca y puré de berenjena asada (Beef and roasted eggplant purée). While the menu refers to this as a ‘taco’, it was just a perfectly cooked tenderloin atop roasted eggplant purée.

 

Beautiful, simple cheese cart. While I may have wanted to spend the entire rest of the afternoon working my way through all of these cheeses, I allowed the server to make a selection of just four cheeses for me.

 

IMG_3461Three (yes, three) seasonal desserts. First (bottom) cleverly presented balls of pear “caviar” with lime zest served in this ‘imitation caviar’ tin, even served with a mother of pearl spoon for effect. The dish at the top right was simply called ‘mandarin’, an extremely light and fluffy mousse-like concoction with an lovely fresh orange flavor. The top right was my favorite, though. Lianzo de primavera (spring canvas) was a beautiful mélange of fresh spring fruits topped with ice cream quenelles and more edible flower petals served on an actual canvas. I loved the fresh, light ending to this beautiful meal.

 

The coffee service (right, above) was served with even more sweets, an assortment of chocolates in several different forms (left, above). Whimsical, fun, and delicious.

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And with that, the check arrived and signaled the end of a magnificent dining experience in Galicia. Chef Solla wasn’t in the restaurant on the day of my visit, so I did not have the pleasure of making his acquaintance. In his absence the entire team did a marvelous job, exactly as one would expect from a restaurant of this calibre.
Chef Pepe Solla is also part of GrupoNove.  As mentioned in my earlier posts about YayoDaporta Restaurante and A Estación, Grupo Nove published a book in 2015, Nove e
a Nove Cociña Galega, Cociñeiros, Paisaxes e Productos
, featuring all of the various chefs in the group. Each chef is profiled in the context of the landscapes, products, and producers that are meaningful to them, personally. In the book, Chef Pepe Solla is pictured on A Lanzada beach near O Grove, Galicia [the landscape], featuring local mackerel (fish) [the product] and a local fishing company committed to integrity, the sea, and the chef [the producer].

Casa Solla
Avenida de Sineiro, 7, San Salvador de Poio (Pontevedra), Spain (map)
+34 986 87 28 84

email: correo@restaurantesolla.com
Website: http://www.restaurantesolla.com

Facebook: Casa Solla
Instagram: www.instagram.com/pepesolla

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EDIT: A Estación closed in March of 2017.  See Bido Restaurante in Coruña. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

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“Hola. I don’t have a reservation …. but I do follow you on Instagram”, is how I introduced myself to A Estación chef and co-owner of Beatriz Sotelo when I arrived without a reservation to this Michelin starred restaurant on a quiet Saturday afternoon last year.

I had completed my second Camino, walking the Portuguese Route from the Portuguese/Spanish border some 115 kilometers (72 miles) to the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, just the day before so a celebration was in order. After we chatted about Instagram, social media in general, and the Camino for a few minutes, restaurant founder and co-owner Juan Crujeiras came out of the kitchen to say hello to chat a bit. After this extremely  warm welcome, we took a photo (below) and then it was time to embark on what was to be a fabulous meal.

 

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Juan Crujeiras, MyLifeOnVacation, Beatriz Sotelo

A Estación is located in the former train station of the town of Cambre, Galicia (hence the name; A Estación is Galician for “The Station”), just a little past the airport outside of A Coruña. As a matter of fact, it’s situated only about 1 km from the Camino Inglés that goes from A Coruña to Santiago. Behind the bar near the front entrance is a large sign for a despacho billetes (ticket office) and the “station” theme carries into the comfortable dining room which is arranged in such a way that it actually looks and feels like the interior of a train car. Charming.

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Absolutely gorgeous cheese table. Several local Galician cheeses featured, including my favorite San Simón da Costa (front center).

A Estación offers an 11 course tasting menu (with optional wine pairings available) in addition to a full menu. Many of the starters are also available in half-size (media ración) portions and items from the tasting menu can even order a la carte. Since I was dining alone and wanted to be able to try various dishes, several starters in the media ración size were chosen. All were excellent; thoughtfully prepared, perfectly executed, and among the most memorable dishes I have enjoyed in Galicia.

(left) The simple, elegant place setting. (center) What better wine to accompany this lovely Galician meal than another nice Albariño? A glass of this lovely García Caamaño from the Pazo de Rubianes winery made for a perfect pairing with the seafood dishes selected. (right) A tasty variety of snacks to start: cured local olives, seasoned popcorn, and hummus with crispy breadsticks. A second round of amuses, not pictured here, included a small piece of empanada and a cup of soup.

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Vieira marinada, caviar Persé, holandesa de cítricos y margarita

Since the scallop shell is the symbol of Saint James (Santiago), and featured prominently on all of the paths of the Camino de Santiago, it seemed only appropriate that my first dish would be a media ración of marinated vieira (scallop) served elegantly over a citrus hollandaise and topped with Spanish Persé caviar, a bit of scallion, and edible flowers (yellow daisy petals, actually). An absolutely gorgeous plate with phenomenal flavor and textures.

Salmón marinado y ahumado al momento con milhojas de manzana y requeixo de A Capela

This media ración of marinated and smoked salmon with milfollas (very thin layers) of apple stuffed with requeixo da Capela (a local sweet ricotta-like creamy cheese made with raw cow’s milk) and walnuts was up next. The salmon was revealed from under the smoky dome with a flourish. Perfectly prepared and playfully presented, this salmon and its accompaniments have been stuck in my memory ever since.

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Rape asado, arroz cremoso de pulpo y emulsión de ajada

Galicia is known for an abundance of high quality pulpo (octopus), so I didn’t hesitate to order this dish where octopus was featured twice and paired with monkfish. Thin slices of cooked octopus were arranged in a rectangle (or perhaps it was a thin slice of an octopus terrine?), topped with an intensely flavorful creamy Spanish rice studded with more chunks of octopus, a perfectly cooked piece of monkfish (rape), and a garlic emulsion garnishing the plate. I absolutely loved the combination of the flavors and textures of the pulpo and monkfish in this dish and the generous dollop of that garlic sauce.

Tarta de chocolate hecho al momento con helado de yogur y chocolate blanco y café

Everything on the dessert menu looked so tempting. One offering was even a “gin & tonic in cake form”. This is the exact moment when I was wishing for a dining companion so we could get two different desserts to share. Since there was only to be one dessert, I decided on this chocolate cake “hecha al momento“. Think of a rich chocolate lava cake, deliciously gooey in the middle, served with white chocolate frozen yogurt sprinkled with chocolate pop-rocks (what a delightful surprise!), atop a coffee sauce that was brushed on the plate.

Coffee service came with a nice little assortment of petit fours. The check presented in an elegant wooden box. 

In addition to the very warm welcome from the chefs, the entire staff was friendly, courteous, and went about their duties with a calm elegance during both of our visits. I wasn’t surprised to read earlier this year this insightful newspaper article about their maitre (maître d’ – head waiter) in the local newspaper. In the article he explains a bit about his role as head waiter at A Estación where he serves as the primary liaison between the guests and the kitchen, discreetly helping guests to ensure they have a nice time while enjoying their meals. Dining at A Estación was such a wonderful experience, I knew before this meal was even finished that I would be returning.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

As the title of this post indicates, I did return to A Estación again. Just a few months later my husband and I visited Galicia together so that I could introduce him to my favorite little corner of Spain. We began that trip by attending the Festa do Mariscos (Shellfish Festival) in O Grove, where I just so happened to run into Chef Crujeiras who was there judging the best mussel dish cooking competition on Saturday night. We had a friendly chat and made a plan for us to visit the restaurant later in the week.

Unfortunately, I had fallen ill in O Grove on Monday night. On Wednesday evening I was still quite unwell, which tempered my excitement about returning to A Estación quite a bit. Not wanting to deprive my husband of the experience of dining here, I pulled up my bootstraps and set out to enjoy as best I could, given the circumstances. Chef Sotelo was not in the restaurant the evening of this visit but Chef Crujeiras was. It was nice to see him again and exchange a few pleasantries. After amuses that were quite similar to those received a few months earlier (and described above), we began the meal in earnest with a couple of classic appetizers.

(left) jamón Iberico (Iberian cured ham) accompanied by (center) toasted pan de molete bread and tomato jam and (left) zamburiñas (variegated scallops) with a crunchy onion topping. Two very simple, high quality dishes.

left – rape asado, arroz cremoso de berberechos, emulsión de ajo – limón
right – atun rojo a la parrilla, semillas, setas de japón y crema de apio-nabo

First to the table was the rape asado (roasted monkfish) served with a delicious creamy rice with berberechos, greens, all atop a lemon garlic cream. Next was the grilled sesame seed crusted atun (tuna) steak served with Japanese mushrooms and a creamy celery root sauce. This dish also received high marks. The sesame crust was perfectly crisp while the tuna remained rare in the middle, just as it ought to be.

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For dessert – local Galician cheeses accompanied by a glass of port wine.

While not in the mood for dessert myself, my better half opted for a cheese plate. The cheese cart this evening was quite similar to the one pictured above during my first visit, and from it came a very nicely composed plate featuring three cheeses and three sweet accompaniments. Of course, I really wish I had been feeling well enough to enjoy this second visit a bit more, but I’m so happy that my husband was able to experience A Estación for himself. He was quite impressed and I’ve no doubt we will make another return visit in the future!

Since these visits in 2015, I’ve kept up with the two chefs via social media, primarily Instagram and Facebook. In addition to social media, Chef Beatriz Sotelo can also be found in the regular media, on local Galician television as the host of her own cooking competition show called Gastrópodos. In each episode, she travels around to a different part of Galicia in a refurbished 50-year-old English bus to discover a unique ingredient common to the area she’s visiting, and then has a cook-off on the bus with a different local chef each episode. Judges aboard the bus declare a winner at the end of each episode. It’s quite entertaining, and she is a natural. The second season of Gastrópodos is airing now (the fall of 2016) on the CRTVG television network.

Chef Juan Crujeiras has also been keeping busy. Among other things, he is in the process of opening a new restaurant located in the city of A Coruña. At the time of this writing, the location of the new place has been announced (near the Plaza de Vigo), but the name has not yet been revealed (although there are hints being posted on Chef Crujerias’ Instagram account). All reports indicate it will open towards the end of September 2016. I will edit this post with the information once it is known. EDIT: About a week after this post was published, the name of the restaurant was announced.  The name is BIDO, which is the Galician word for “birch”, as in the tree. One newspaper article explained that the restaurant will feature media raciones so patrons will be able to try several dishes, which is exactly my style of dining. If I’m lucky, it will be open in time for my next visit back to Galicia in September. Best of luck to Chef Crujeiras in this new venture!

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The chefs at A Estación are also part of GrupoNove.  As mentioned in my earlier post about YayoDaporta Restaurante, in 2015 Grupo Nove published a book, Nove e
a Nove Cociña Galega, Cociñeiros, Paisaxes e Productos
, featuring all of the various chefs in the group. Each chef is profiled in the context of the landscapes, products, and producers that are meaningful to them, personally.

In the book, Chef Crujeiras is pictured next to a stream in a mountain forest near the town where he grew up in the Coruña province of Galicia [the landscape], featuring the highest quality fresh-baked wheat, corn, and nut breads [the product] all baked by Mocho, the restaurant’s baker [the producer]. Chef Sotelo is pictured splashing in the sea near her hometown in the Pontevedra province of Galicia [the landscape], featuring the Galiña Piñeira, a native Galician breed of chicken which is prized for the quality of its meat [the product], that was saved from extinction by a local veterinarian [the producer].

Marmontaña (sea and mountain) exemplifies Galicia itself, geographically speaking, so it seems quite appropriate that these two themes are at the heart of the cuisine at A Estación, and the soul of the restaurant itself given the provenance of the two chefs.


A Estación
Estrada da Estación, 51, Cambre (Coruña), Spain (map)
+34 981 67 69 11

email: estaciondecambre@gmail.com
Website: link                           Menu: link

A Estación Facebook: Restaurante A Estación
A Estación Instagram: www.instagram.com/aestacion

Juan Crujeiras Instagram: www.instagram.com/crujeiras
Juan Crujeiras’ new restaurant: BIDO (scheduled to open September 2016)
Marcil  de Adalid, 2-4, A Coruña, Spain (map)

Beatriz Sotelo Instagram: www.instagram.com/beatrizsotelo
Beatriz Sotelo on Gastrópodos – CRTVG: www.crtvg.es/tvg/programas/gastropodos

 

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

When I brought Mr. Vacation to Galicia for the first time in October 2015, our primary objective was to attend the annual Festa do Mariscos in O Grove. But, really, one simply cannot go to O Grove and not go to d’Berto Restaurante. Or at least I don’t recommend it.

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So, on our first Sunday in Galicia, we visited the seafood Mecca that is d’Berto Restaurante. Just the day before we attended the Festa do Mariscos during the day and enjoyed some incredible fresh navajas (razor clams) at La Queserí Tasting Room later that night. As wonderful as the seafood on Saturday was, it really just whet our appetites for even more shellfish.

This was my second visit to d’Berto, but my husband’s first.  We were once again accompanied by José of Turismo Verde de Galicia and his lovely wife, Montse. On this visit, it was a busy Sunday lunchtime crowd (around 2 in the afternoon), compared to our previous visit just a few months earlier in May of 2015. Since that meal was so wonderful, I basically wanted to repeat it so my husband could experience it for himself.

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The case was full of beautiful fish and shellfish!

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Albariño – Terras de Lantaño.

As in most places in Galicia where shellfish is the specialty, we began with white Albariño wine.  The Rías Baixas wine region, located in the southwestern part of Galicia, is comprised of 5 sub regions. O Grove sits right in one of them, the Val do Salnés, which is known as the actual birthplace of the Albariño grape. As such, it stands to reason that the wines grown right here pair so perfectly with the foods of the region, in particular, the shellfish.

The last time we visited d’Berto, back in May of 2015, they did a tasting menu for us. This time we ordered off the menu but wanted to be sure to sample many of the same items, since they were so spectacular. We began with a couple of amuses; seafood empanada and mejillones en escabeche (mussels marinated in a vinegary sauce).

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Empanada de marisco y pescado (shellfish and fish empanada) to begin.  FYI, empanadas are meant to be eaten with your hands.

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The second amuse was this tangy bowl of mejillones en escabeche (mussels marinated in a vinegary sauce).

We ordered a parade of shellfish to be shared family style, as we did during my first visit to this award winning restaurant. Everything was just as spectacular as it was during the first visit, and this time the zamburiñas (variegated scallops) were available! Berto, the owner, makes it a point to obtain the absolute best product for the restaurant, which is prepared very simply by the kitchen (run by his sister, Marisol) in order to let the superior product shine. Service in the dining room was as friendly and efficient as it was during our first visit.

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Ostras fritas, fried oysters, just barely kissed by the frying oil.

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Tiny whole fried shrimp, so packed with flavor!

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Berberechos (cockles) cooked a su punto (just right). These were my favorite until … (see next photo) …

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Zamburiñas! What a treat! Small scallops are sold in restaurants all over Galicia as “zamburiñas“, but these are the REAL deal. Note the black shells. These were sublime.

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Navajas (Razor Clams) for the second day in a row. We would have them again the following day at Yayo Daporta. I’m willing to state that one could have Galician navajas every day and not tire of them, especially when they are as perfect as these!

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Cigalas (Langoustine) were just as sweet and rich as the last time. And just like before, that delicious char from the grill made for some time spent chupandonos los dedos – licking our fingers!

Dessert! We enjoyed a nice selection of desserts, including this seasonal castaña (chestnut) cake with caramel sauce and traditional filloas con miel (Galician crepes stuffed with custard and drizzled with honey). All served with café con leche and a small cookie. Unfortunately, this blogger neglected to capture a photo of Mr. Vacation’s delicious plate of cannoli.

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Luckily, I didn’t neglect to get a photo with the lovely Montse (on the right). She and José are such delightful company. They are ever so patient with Mr. Vacation and I, especially considering all that goes along with our limited Spanish: lots of translation, explanation, (mis)communication, a few mistakes (on our part, not theirs) but most of all, lots of laughs! We are so glad we got to spend another wonderful afternoon revisiting this fabulous feast with them and to be able to spend more time together in their beautiful homeland, Galicia.

 


d’Berto Restaurante
Avenida Teniente Domínguez, 84, O Grove, Galicia, Spain
+34 986 773 447
Website: www.dberto.com
Facebook: dBerto Restaurante

If you haven’t seen my previous blog post about d’Berto Restaurante (from May 2015), I encourage you to take a peek.  I mean, who doesn’t want to see more delicious shellfish?!

For more information on the Rías Baixas wine region you can visit:
www.riasbaixaswines.com
For more information on the Val do Salnés subregion you can visit:
http://www.rutadelvinoriasbaixas.com/en/area/val-do-salnes
http://www.osalnes.com/en/

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Date of Visit: Saturday, October 10, 2015

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O Grove, Galicia celebrates the Festa do Mariscos (Shellfish Festival) every year for the first two weeks in October (this was the 52nd annual). We were fortunate enough to be able to rent an apartment just a block away from the main hub of activity in the town square, Praza do Corgo.  Mr. Vacation and I made the journey from A Coruña to O Grove on this Saturday afternoon and got settled into the apartment with plenty of time to enjoy a bit of the festival before our 10:00 p.m. dinner reservations at La Queserí Tasting Room. We were dining with José of Turismo Verde de Galicia and his lovely wife Montse, who live in O Grove. La Queserí Tasting Room is located a mere 5 minutes away from the Praza do Corgo, so it was a quick trip from the festival to dinner.

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Here, Gonzalo explains how the cheese cave is organized.      Photo by @Turvegal

La Queserí Tasting Room first came to my attention via social media in the months leading up to our October 2015 trip to Galicia.  Following their Facebook page, I had the impression it was just a cute little restaurant where one could stop by for some wine and cheese in the afternoon. I was wrong! It turns out to be a cute little private dining restaurant located in a cheese cave! Proprietors Gonzalo Germade and his wife Diana have turned the lower level of their home into a cheese cave / dining room that is available by pre-reservation only, for a maximum of 10 people. The comfortable dining room actually adjoins the temperature and humidity controlled cheese cave, which is separated by a glass door.

 

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Just look at these beautiful cheese specimens! They are monitored, rotated, and taken care of on a daily basis by Gonzalo in their temperature and humidity controlled cave as they ripen. Note the bamboo mats below each wheel, for moisture control.

To kick things off, we toasted our first meal together in Galicia with a nice bottle of Xión Albariño from the local Rías Baixas wine region. I’m blogging a little bit out of order here, so this was actually the first dinner (of many!) the four of us had together.  As such, we all clinked glasses in a “Welcome to Galicia” toast over a big beautiful seafood empanada that we dove right into. (Note: photo credit on the close-up of the empanada on the right goes to José @Turvegal – he’s got a way with food photos!)

When toasting at an event in Galicia, it is tradition to say “de hoxe nun ano” (‘de hoy en un año’ in Spanish or ‘a year from today’ in English) to express the hope that the celebration can be repeated the following year.  I’m happy to say that we have been able to repeat many lovely dining experiences with our gallego friends since first learning this toast.

Our menu for the evening was prearranged about a week in advance. Because of the name of the restaurant I was most focused on the cheese, but it turns out La Queserí Tasting Room also specializes in the local seafood. Gonzalo regularly visits O Grove’s lonxa (fish market) to source the best and freshest seafood.  I continue to follow Gonzalo and La Queserí on social media (Facebook) and it is a non-stop parade of the incredible mariscos he purchases at the lonxa to prepare for their guests.

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Next came a plate of these gorgeous, fresh, delicate navajas (razor clams). Wow!  Photo credit again here to José @Turvegal.  Yet another example of how a very simple preparation allows a first class product, such as these flavorful and tender clams, to shine. We always enjoy this Galician delicacy, and this was one the best example we’ve tasted, before or since.

 

 

For me, the cheese course was the main event. The photo below on the right (by José @Turvegal) shows the cheese plate “before”, while mine (left) is more of a “during” representation. I will just fess up and say that I dug right in and then remembered to snap a pic. Gonzalo is extremely knowledgeable about all of the cheese in his cellar and explained the origin and age of each of the six unique cheeses, along with some tasting notes to help us to become familiar with those that were completely new to us.  He was nice enough to write down the names and origins of each of the cheeses … and when I find that list again, dear reader, I’ll be sure to update the blog.  But for now, let me assure you each of the cheeses on this thoughtfully composed board was delicious.  The Spanish blue cheese (see photo on right, lower right cheese with grape on top), a Calabres from the neighboring province of Asturias, was my favorite.  Funky in the best way possible, I surely ate more than my fair share of it.

Edit: Descriptions of the cheeses are now listed below.  Please refer to the photo on the right, beginning with the tall cheese in the top left corner:

Brillat-Savarin (Burgundy – France) – French triple cream cheese made of pasteurized cow’s milk aged for 1-2 months.
Selles sur Cher (Loire – France) – French raw milk goat cheese with a light wood charcoal on the rind, aged for 1 month.
Langres (Champagne – France) – French raw cow’s milk washed rind aged for 2 months.
Calabres Reserva (Asturias – Spain) – Spanish raw cow’s milk blue cheese aged natural caves at 1000 meters of altitude in the Picos de Europa – a mountainous area of Asturias (the province next to Galicia).
Cantal “Vieux” (Auvergne – France) – French cow’s milk brushed rind cheese cured for 24 months. It is very rare to see this variation of Cantal outside of France; it has a strong taste and can last up to 18 months without spoiling if handled properly.
Guía (Gran Canaria Island – Spain) – Spanish raw sheep’s milk soft cheese aged for 8 months.

Check out the delicious bread that came along with the cheese selection: Our first taste of Made In Fofán squash & poppy seed bread (left) and traditional pan de leña bread (right).

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The main course!  Naturally, we knew we were going to have some sort of seafood as the main entrée, but while planning the menu the week before there was an option for Gallego beef.  I had been seeing a lot written about the high quality of beef in Galicia, but hadn’t yet had the chance to sample any myself.  We opted for one plate with Gallego beef, served as a hamburger with French fries.  The other three plates were sargo al horno, baked white seabream, fresh from the market, over potatoes.  Our mains were accompanied by a Spanish red from Pagos de Araiz (from Navarra).

 For dessert, we finished with satisfying cheese and membrillo (quince paste) filled empanadillas.

The walls were decorated with wine and cheese … we felt right at home.

Did I mention that in Galicia, dinner goes late?  Very late!  It was 1:30 a.m. by the time we wrapped up this memorable meal, after much animated conversation with our dining companions and Gonzalo, our engaging host.


During our visit in the fall of last year the dining room was the only space available for a maximum of 10 people, as mentioned above.  In the summer, two additional tables are set up outside, so guests can also be accommodated al fresco for lunch or dinner.

La Queserí Tasting Room
Gonzalo Germade Alfonso
Lugar de Meloxo 65A, O Grove, Galicia
+34 647 215 263
Facebook: La Queserí Tasting Room

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Monday, October 12th, 2015

Cambados is a charming little coastal town located in the province of Pontevedra, Galicia.  It is home to the iconic, picturesque cemetery and ruins of Santa Mariña De Dozo. 

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Ruins of the church of Santa Mariña de Dozo located in Cambados.

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Cemetery of Santa Mariña de Dozo.

Cambados is now also known as home of the Michelin star restaurant run by Yayo Daporta and his sister, Esther.  Yayo opened the restaurant in 2005 and earned a Michelin star in 2008.  Just a few weeks before our visit in early October 2015, Esther, who also runs the front of house, won a prize for best sommelier in Galicia.  The restaurant is situated in a venerable building on a quiet pedestrian street in the historic center of Cambados.

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The charming street where the restaurant is located – Rúa Hospital.

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Welcome to Yayo Daporta Restaurante.

We were accompanied at lunch by our friends José of Turismo Verde de Galicia and his wife Montse.  There were a couple of different tasting menus available to choose from, so we had quite a bit of conversation at the table in selecting which menu we would go with.  In addition to the standard tasting menu (pictured below), there was also an extensive menu celebrating the restaurant’s 10th anniversary.  In the end we opted for the regular tasting menu.  It had more than enough variety to satisfy all of us!

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The table opted for the traditional tasting menu.

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Elegant and simple table setting.

The wine cellar was impressive; a glass encased room visible from the dining area with individual tasting notes hanging from tags around the necks of each wine bottle.  Given their location in the Rias Baixas region, local Albariño wines feature prominently with Galician wines making up around 80% of all bottles in the cellar.  The wines selected by Esther paired perfectly with our meal.  The first bottle (left) featured label art by the well-known cartoonist from O Grove, Gogue.

The restaurant considers itself to be “updated” Galician cuisine.  They start with the best products from the market and apply modern techniques to the traditional ingredients.  We find this as a theme among the higher end restaurants that we have visited in Galicia.  Given their location right on the coast, there’s an emphasis on the freshest seafood here too.

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Mouse de coliflor, berberechos y reducción de café. ~ Cockle on cauliflower mousse and coffee reduction.  Beautiful presentation and wonderfully flavorful.

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Tartar de navajas y emulsion de su jugo. ~ Razor clam tartar with an emulsion of oil and the clam’s own juice, with parsley.  Served on natural stone, this one in a lovely heart shape.  This was one of my favorite dishes of the day. Sweet and tender razor clams are something to seek out when visiting Galicia.

 

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Huevo de corral a baja temperatura con menestra de verduras de estación.  ~  Sous vide farm egg with stew of seasonal vegetables and crujiente (crunchy bits) of jamón ibérico.  I really enjoyed this combination of fresh veg,  runny yolk and wonderful Iberian ham!

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Xurel asado a la brasa con el jugo de su asado y migas de pan de maíz.  ~  Grilled mackerel with jus from the grill and cornbread crumbs. The skin on top of the fish is actually a ‘fake’, made with the fish’s own broth. Inventive and flavorful.  Our dining companion shared with us that this dish tasted like his childhood, having eaten grilled mackerel caught by his fisherman father many times.

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Merluza de bajura rebozada con panko y mayonesa de chile jalapeño.  ~  Panko crusted coastal hake with jalapeño chile mayo and Iberian ham oil.

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Cabrito asado con suflé de patata al tomillo y jugo de su asado. ~  Grilled goat with thyme potato soufflé and pan jus. This was deboned and slow roasted then grilled, so a little bit of crispy on the outside and oh, so tender on the inside.  the main portion rolled in dried fruits & nuts.

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Delicious all chocolate dessert – chocolate ice cream, cookie, mousse and even chocolate pop rocks.

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Dessert for 4!  Light little tastes were perfect after the heavier dishes.  Coffee service (not pictured) was lovely as well.

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Chef Yayo with yours truly.  (Note my Montse Betanzos necklace!)

Yayo Daporta Restaurante is part of Grupo Nove, a collective of Galician chefs created in 2003 to promote the “new Galician kitchen”, first emphasizing quality Galician products and honoring tradition and innovation at the same time.  In 2015 Grupo Nove published a book, Nove e a Nove Cociña Galega, Cociñeiros, Paisaxes e Productos, featuring all of the various chefs in the group.  Each is profiled in the context of the landscapes, products, and producers that are meaningful to them, personally.  How wonderful that copies of the book were available for sale at the restaurant, and even more wonderful that our dear friend José presented one to me as a gift!  (Grazas, meu!)

In the book, Chef Yayo is featured on a batea (a large wooden raft that floats in the waters of Galician inlets where shellfish are cultivated) [the landscape], with fresh oysters [the product] that are cultivated by his own father [the producer].  He was nice enough to come out from behind the stoves to greet us and sign my book.

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Chef Yayo signing his page in my copy of “Nove e a Nova Cociña Galega – Cociñeiros, Paisaxes e Productos”

After such a lovely meal, we were ready to set off for the charming aldea of Fofán (you can read about that here!).


Yayo Daporta Restaurante
Rúa Hospital, 7
Cambados, Galicia, Spain
+34 986 526 062
http://www.yayodaporta.com/en
Email:
restaurante@yayodaporta.com
Facebook:  Yayo Daporta

 

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