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Archive for the ‘2016’ Category

UPDATE: In late July 2018 the restaurant moved to a new location at Rúa Espartero 77 (map).

While O Camiño do Inglés is no longer directly on the path of the Camino Inglés, it is only 350 meters away (a 5 minute walk) from the previous location on Rúa San Francisco, where it had operated since 2012. The new location is just two blocks up from the stone marker that indicates the beginning of the English Route of the Camino de Santiago. It continues to be an ingredient driven, seafood focused restaurant whose menu changes daily based upon what’s fresh and in season at the market.

The original location on Rúa San Francisco has been converted by Chef/Owner Dani López into Josefa’s Bara more casual tapas bar done up in a slightly throwback style to a time when Galician grandmothers prepared comfort food for their families. Pilgrims on the camino, or anyone visiting Ferrol, should find this a comfortable spot to enjoy a drink and some delicious tapas.

Originally published post below:

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One of the many Camino-themed pieces of art that decorates O Camiño do Inglés restaurant in Ferrol, Galicia.

Both arms of the Camino Inglés - the route originates in A Coruña and Ferrol, Galicia.

The lime green line indicates the English Route of the Camino de Santiago from Ferrol to Santiago de Compostela.

When people think of the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) they often first think of the long 800 kilometer (500 mile) trail that marches westward across all of northern Spain from the Pyrenees Mountains to the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela. That route, the “French Route”, is certainly the most well-known, but there are many other roads to Santiago de Compostela. One of them is the English Route, which begins in Ferrol, Galicia. It’s the shortest of the “official” Camino routes measuring just 118 kilometers (73 miles).

“The English Route” in Spanish is La Ruta ç. In Galician it translates as O Camiño do Inglés. The restaurant O Camiño do Inglés is located on Rúa San Francisco directly on the Camino route as it leaves the port of Ferrol and meanders through the town along the Ría de Ferrol before heading off into the forests and small towns on the 5 days to walk to Santiago de Compostela.

The map here shows the route from Ferrol (the lime green line), but the English Route also has an arm that originates in the beautiful city of A Coruña (the light blue line). The two paths diverge near a small historic place called Hospital de Bruma – where an actual pilgrim’s hospital operated until the 1500s. The route is full of historic significance in addition to being a tranquil stroll between charming small towns, tiny aldeas (villages), rolling hills, farmland, and forested mountains.

During my very first visit to Galicia in 2014 one of the highlights of my visit to Ferrol was dining at O Camiño do Inglés on the eve of setting out to walk my very first Camino (that visit is recapped in a previous blog post). I returned again to dine here in 2016. It wasn’t until 2017, during my third visit, that I was finally able to enjoy a full tasting menu. That’s what we’ll be talking about in this blog post.

Chef Dani López tells us all about the menu.

Because the menu changes frequently to represent what’s seasonal and fresh in the local markets, a large black chalkboard is brought to the table in lieu of a printed menu. Chef Daniel López walked us through the menu items and offered to put together a shareable tasting menu to show off the best the restaurant had to offer.

I opted for the wine pairings, while my dining companion selected a few options by the glass, starting with an organic Vermouth, Amillo Vermut Reserva Jerezano. Our waiter brought a tasty bowl of olives from the Galician province of Ourense as the first wine pairing was poured – a Manzanilla from Andalucía: Entusiastica by Bodega Delgado Zuletan.

San Martiño al corte en adobo (Sliced San Martiño in adobo)

Local San Martiño fish (John Dory in English) sliced and served crudo style (raw) in adobo seasoning. Adobo, a spice blend of paprika and cumin, is quite common in Andalucía and was perfectly balanced in this dish. It goes without saying that the fish was super fresh; we loved the clean flavor and excellent texture. It paired perfectly with the Andalusian Manzanilla.

Xurelo, escabeche, boniato (Mackerel, sweet and sour sauce, sweet potato)

Mackerel naturally has a strong flavor so the intense escabeche sauce (made with roasted soy here) matched the intensity of the oven roasted fish. Creamy sweet potato and tangy green onions went together nicely and balanced the entire dish.

Trenzado by Suertes del Marqués from Tenerife is a white wine blend of Listán Blanco and Vidueño grapes described as an interesting wine that goes well with vegetables, particularly with the corn that was featured in the next dish.

Buey de mar, maíz, espinacas (Crab, corn, spinach)

Not a photogenic dish, but we really enjoyed digging into this enormous pile of sweet shredded crab meat over spinach sautéed with garlic. I’m still not sure which was more luxurious, the crab or the velvety corn soup that enveloped it.

Another bottle from Bodega Delgado Zuleta, this time a sherry, Monteagudo Palo Cortado, to accompany the house’s current signature dish – “Zorza” de albacore.

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Zorza (cruda) de albacore, patata, pimiento, huevo (Raw marinated albacore tune, potato, pepper, egg)

Zorza is actually a marinated pork dish, but the version here at O Camiño do Inglés is an inventive play on zorza, if it were an Asian dish that landed in the northwestern coast of Spain.  This “zorza” was made from white tuna, fried potatoes and Padrón peppers in a sweet and savory sauce made of paprika oil, sweet chili, sesame oil, soy, and vinegar. Sprinkles of egg yolk, green onion, and sesame seeds are the perfect addition. The fish really stands up to these bold flavors; it’s no wonder this is one of the signature dishes here.

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2016 Alma d’ Mar Albariño from Bodegas Albamar in the Rías Baixas wine region.

Merluza Casa Marcelo (Hake Casa Marcelo style)

Chef Dani previously worked at the Michelin-starred Casa Marcelo in Santiago de Compostela and openly admits to being inspired by one of the dishes there. He executes it in his own style, which is opposite of the version at Casa Marcelo. Perfectly cooked tender moist hake fish sits atop a pepper pil pil sauce with a tangy caldo de limón (lemon broth) over top.

Crisp and delicious, this 2016 Muros Antiguos by Anselmo Mendes is a Portuguese vinho verde wine from the area just south of the Rías Baixas made of Loureiro grapes that paired wonderfully with the Salmonete course.

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Salmonete, endibias, estragón (Red mullet, endive, tarragon)

“This is a very French dish” Chef Dani announced when he brought this plate to the table. Fish fantasies came true with this excellent Galician product prepared with international inspiration. The smooth, buttery tarragon sauce was very French, indeed, and a bit unexpected and extremely delicious with the firm, gently cooked ocean fish.

As we chatted about wine with the sommelier, he made a last minute switch to this 1993 Viña Gravonia from Lopez de Heredia, an inspired pairing for the final savory dish of the meal.

Lentejas, foie, calabaza (Lentils, foie gras, pumpkin)

As we were deciding on the meal, Chef indicated he would send out 6 fish courses and one meat course. When it came time to serve it, he amended his statement to say that the final course was a meat dish, “kind of”.  I understood what he meant as soon as I tasted the dish. Lentils with pumpkin and marinated red onion topped with chunks of foie gras that quickly melted into the already rich broth. Lentils as a main meat course sounds sort of unassuming, but this was a truly fabulous dish.

For dessert wines, we sampled a Pedro Jimenez (tased like we were sipping liquid dried figs and grapes); and a Guitian late harvest Godello.

Arroz con leche a nuestra manera (rice pudding our way)

We enjoyed this complex-flavored, excellent version of traditional rice pudding with hints of cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and brûlée-d sugar on top.

Kit-Kat de Te Matcha – Another international dish – this time a tasty dessert inspired by the Japanese version Matcha tea Kit-Kat. White chocolate cold cream was the anchor of the dish with a lovely green te matcha sauce, crumbled sable cookie and almonds.

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la felicidad es el camino, no el destino” (happiness is the journey, not the destination)

One entire wall of the dining room is decorated in a sweeping mural that ends with the sentiment that “happiness is the journey, not the destination”. That is something that pilgrims discover while on the Camino de Santiago, and it’s so apt that it is also experienced here at O Camiño do Inglés.

Date of third visit: October 18, 2017
Date of second visit: September 22, 2016
Date of first visit: June 10, 2014


O Camiño do Inglés
Rúa San Francisco, 17, 15401 Ferrol, A Coruña (map)
+34 981 721 765

Website: www.ocaminodoingles.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ocamino.doingles/
Instagram: www.instagram.com/ocaminodoingles

English spoken: YES

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Date of Visit:  Friday, September 14, 2016

There are many routes to Santiago de Compostela on the Camino de Santiago. In 2015 the Camino de Invierno was named an official camino route. The name means “Winter Route”, named as such because it is the route that Pilgrims of yore would take to avoid the snow in O Cebreiro, located on the French Route. The Camino de Invierno passes through the Ribeira Sacra wine region, including the town of Chantada. A mere 3 kilometers before arriving into Chantada pilgrims will pass right by the front door of Vía Romana Adegas e Viñedos (Ví­a Romana Winery and Vineyards), that I visited with José of Turismo Verde de Galicia last September.

Map on the left showing Chantada in the geographical center of Galicia. Map on the right showing the path of the Camino de Invierno. Vía Romana is being pointed to.

img_2914-1Before a pilgrim can pass by this charming winery, he or she must first make the climb up from the village of Belesar after having crossed the Río Miño (as seen in this photo), then make the ascent of 131 meters (430 feet) to the winery. The rest of us might find it easier to arrive by car zipping up the zig-zagging road to the winery.

Galicia is home to several distinct wine regions, one of them being the Ribeira Sacra in the province of Lugo. There approximately 2,900 hectares of vineyards in the Ribera Sacra wine region, which is comprised of five sub-regions: Amandi, Chantada, Quiroga-Bibei, Riberas do Miño and Riberas do Sil. Ví­a Romana is situated in the sub-region of Chantada, on the west side of the gorge created by the Rí­o Miño. It enjoy spectacular views of the river and the terraced wineries all along both sides.

 

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Galicia’s wine regions. The Ribeira Sacra in blue.

 

Stunning views from the Vía Romana winery of the Río Miño and the steep land terraced with vineyards in the Ribeira Sacra wine region.

img_2898-1The location is absolutely beautiful, but it does present some difficulties (I mean, look at the photos just above and to the left that show just how steep those hills are!).  Over the centuries that grapes have been cultivated here, strategies (such as terracing) have been implemented to allow the wineries to thrive and grow. The steep terrain and slate soil guarantee good drainage for the vines, but also necessitates that the grapes are harvested by hand. Each fall during the vendimia (grape harvesting time), grapes are cut by hand and carried by workers up the steep hillsides to the winery. Because of the difficulties in these areas, they use a phrase locally to describe it: viticultura heroica (heroic viniculture).

Vía Romana is most well known for their red wine, made from the mencía grape, which results in an intensely colored, velvety aromatic wine. Vía Romana produces Galicia’s first certified vegan wine, their Mencí­a Añada 2015. We toured around the entire facility and learned about all stages of the winemaking process, from where the grapes are crushed, stored (in stainless steel and in barrels), bottled, aged, and boxed for shipping:

Next we enjoyed a tasting of several different wines (as well as posing with a giant bottle of wine!).  We were also introduced to the line of Nordesía vermouth and María Castaña, a sweet chestnut wine, both produced by affiliated companies.

The Nordesía vermouths are quite popular in Galicia. The red is made with mencía grapes and the white made from albariño grapes. A mix of the red and white over ice (called a “mezclado”) makes for quite a refreshing aperitivo or afternoon drink. The sweet dessert wine made with toasted chestnuts, María Castaña, is another delightful sipper.

I look forward to visiting the Ribeira Sacra wine region again, to discover even more wonderful small production wineries in this enchanting location.


Via Romana Adegas e Viñedos
A Ermida – Belesar s/n, Chantada, Galicia
+34 982 454 069 – call to arrange a visit
Visits offered: Monday – Friday from 10am – 1pm and 4pm – 7pm
Saturday from 11am – 2pm and 5pm – 8pm

Website: www.viaromana.es
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ViaRomana
Instagram: www.instagram.com/ViaRomana_es
Email: viaromana@viaromana.es

More information on the Ribeira Sacra wine region at www.riberiasacra.org

More information on the Camino de Invierno at:
https://www.gronze.com/camino-invierno
https://www.csj.org.uk/planning-your-pilgrimage/routes-to-santiago/routes-in-spain/camino-de-invierno/

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Date of Visit: Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Just to the east of Galicia lies the province of Asturias with the charming port city of Gijón on its northern coast. In May 2016 a family cruise included a stop in Gijón. I was very interested in this cruise stop since the Northern Route of the Camino de Santiago passes through Gijón, right along picturesque white sand San Lorenzo beach. The old fishing village (now the recreational marine port) is a short walk away through the charming old quarter where you can find shops and even a few cider bars (siderias – an experience you should seek out when in Asturias!).

But our real mission during our too-short stay in Gijón was to visit the Asturian temple of the fabada – Casa Gerardo.  Fabada is a classic Spanish dish made of large white beans (alubias), pork shoulder or ham, morcilla (blood sausage), and chorizo. Since its founding in 1882 as a roadside tavern, Casa Gerardo has been making this classic fabada at this same location. Located along a busy road in the village of Prendes, about 7 miles from the old town of Gijón, it is operated by the Morán family, father Pedro and son Marcos. They are the fourth and fifth generations, respectively, to operate the restaurant which earned a Michelin star in 1987.

Casa Gerardo’s signature fabada is firmly rooted in a historic past, but the menu veers off into modernity with deliciously executed contemporary dishes. On the printed menu, one side of the menu is labeled “dishes that remain on the menu and are now house classics”, while the other side is labeled “contemporary dishes”.  The amuse bouche that kicked off our meal certainly showed off this modern bent in fine fashion.

The first amuse was this surprising and refreshing “Margarita de Manzana”. Think of a welcome cocktail, just not in a glass. Chunks of apple soaked in tequila (!), sprinkled with salt and with a hint of citrus. The perfect palate cleanser to begin the meal.

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Amuse #1: Margarita de Manzana – our welcome “cocktail”.

Another great example of a modern take on a classic Spanish dish, this surprising savory potato “tortilla” ice cream on crispy rice was intriguing. It perfectly captured the essence of the quintessential Spanish tortilla in a completely unique and enjoyable fashion.

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Amuse #2: Tortilla (potato flavored) savory ice cream!

Consommé made of potato skins served warm and absolutely bursting with potato flavor. The bread service was exceptional. White, wheat and cornbread were offered several times throughout the meal and served with smoked butter.

Amuse #3: Potato Consommé  – Bread service

Our meal started in earnest with some of the most luxurious and flavorful jamón ibérico in all the land: jamón ibérico de bellota reserva Joselito. No need to say more, just look at it! Ok, I’ll say a bit more; Joselito is a brand name, and it is considered to be one of the very best in Spain.

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Jamón ibérico de bellota reserva Joselito – Joselito reserve acorn fed Iberian ham cured for at least 36 months.

The bocadillo crujiente de quesos, a well known staple at Casa Gerardo, are small tents of two pieces of crispy puff pastry held together with a thick line of creamy Austrian cheeses (reported to be a mixture of La Peral, Los Beyos, and cream cheese). Crunchy, creamy, salty and a little sweet – this appetizer hit all the notes and left me wanting another round.

Compango is meat with which the beans of the fabada are stewed. These croquetas contain rich little morsels of the compango in beautifully prepared croquetas.

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Croquetas del compango de la fabada (croquettes made with the meat of the fabada)

And finally, the main event! The fabada we came all this way for. Beautifully cooked alubias (large, creamy white beans – see the bottom of this post for more information on what makes these beans so special!) in a delicate yet richly flavored broth. Served with the compango on the side. While listed on the traditional side of the menu, this dish is absolutely a gourmet fabada – a Michelin star fabada – and one that will surely serve as a point of reference upon which future versions of this dish will be compared.

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Fabada de Prendes (white beans with ham, smoked morcilla (blood sausage), and chorizo)

Another traditional dish with the same creamy alubias, this time stewed with clams and garnished with parsley. We enjoyed the delicate and rich broth, which was less intense than the fabada de Prendes, given the lighter seafood flavor.

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Fabes con almejas (white beans with clams and parsley)

Lobster and monkfish salad with vinaigrette and garnished with mayonnaise sauces made of mustard, plankton (seaweed), and red pepper. Seaweed is actually a pretty common ingredient used in Spain’s northern coast. A wonderful fresh, light dish featuring seafood of the highest quality.

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Salpicón de bugre y pixín con vinagreta y mayonesas de mostaza, plancon y pimiento morrón (lobster and monkfish salad with vinaigrette and garnished with mayonnaise sauces made of mustard, plankton (seaweed), and red pepper

From the “contemporary” side of the menu, Mr. Vacation selected this beef tenderloin with quinoa, foie gras, and micro vegetables. A lovely plate with flavorful beef with a touch of decadent fois gras.

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Corte de solomillo con guiso de quinoa, foie y micro vegetales (beef tenderloin with quinoa, foie gras, and micro vegetables)

Even in Asturias we couldn’t help but select an albariño from Galicia. Pazo Baión (left) makes an elegant, slightly citrusy, albariño from 40 year old vines that we thoroughly enjoyed. Mr. Vacation opted for a glass of Beronia Reserva Edición Limitada (right) from La Rioja to accompany his steak. This classic tempranillo is a limited edition wine with less than 35,000 bottles produced.

When one thinks of the legendary dishes as Casa Gerardo, the crema de arroz con leche requeimada de Prendes comes in a close second to the fabada. Comfort food taken to a whole other level. We all absolutely loved this creamy rice pudding with a brûléed sugar top.

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Crema de arroz con leche requeimada de Prendes (rice pudding with brûléed sugar top)

Another dessert came to the table, a gift from the kitchen: Chocolate & frutos secos (chocolate and nuts). A lovely ensemble of creamy chocolate, hazelnut ice cream, chocolate cake crumbles with pistachos and marzipan. A delicious mix of flavors and textures.

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Chocolate y frutos secos (chocolate and nuts)

During the meal father Pedro Morán came by to greet the table and make sure everything was delicious. During dessert son Marcos Morán came by to say hello and chat for a bit.  I’d love to know what I was bending his ear about (left)! He was just as charming as his father and invited us back to see the kitchen (right).

Books make some of the best souvenirs. Last year Casa Gerardo published this tome, Casa Gerardo, 50 Pasos de la Cocina Contemporánea. It won a “best in the world” award for the ‘Chef’ category in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. This beautiful book is big and heavy with gorgeous glossy photos throughout. Way too big to carry around for the rest of our journey, so I sadly left it on the display shelf in the lobby.

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Now for more about those big beautiful white beans. Alubias are not only found in Asturias. During a subsequent trip to Galicia, I ran across a big beautiful bowl of white beans (the ones pictured to the left, in the colander) for sale in Lugo at the weekly farmer’s market. I recognized them as being very similar to the Asturian fabada beans (these were Galician fabas de Lourenzá) and inquired as to how much for ½ kilo (about a pound). The lovely woman selling them could hear my accent and first asked when I would be preparing them. Since I had 10 more days in Galicia then a flight home to the United States she kindly declined to sell them to me, explaining that these were fresh beans and they just wouldn’t last that long.

Even though I wasn’t able to bring their gorgeous cookbook (nor any fresh beans) home, I was thrilled to see that the recipes for both of their signature dishes, the fabada and the arroz con leche, are listed on the restaurant’s website.

A few months after our visit to Casa Gerardo the restaurant and family were featured in Season 1 of the new Amazon series “Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse” that debuted in September 2016. In the show Marcos reveals some of the secrets of the fabada including this: the white beans they use are fresh beans that they freeze until it’s time to use them, not dried beans that have been soaked. He mentioned another important tip: you don’t stir the beans while they are cooking – no spoon! Just shake the pot a bit. The elder Morán went on to explain the proper way to eat the fabada, but you will have to watch it to find out for yourself. It’s a really entertaining segment on the third episode, featuring chef José Andrés, who also hails from Asturias. Definitely worth watching!


Restaurante Casa Gerardo
Carretera AS-19, km9, Prendes,  Asturias, Spain
+34 985 88 77 97

Website: www.restaurantecasagerardo.es
Instagram: www.instagram.com/cateringcg
Facebook: www.facebook.com/marcos.moran.casagerardo
Twitter: www.twitter.com/cateringcg

English spoken: Yes

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Date of visit: Sunday, September 18, 2016

When visiting O Grove, Galicia, one can’t help but be impressed by the number of beaches on this gorgeous peninsula. More than 15 beaches with almost 10 kilometers (6 miles) of sand line the shores at various points ranging in size from very long, such as La Lanzada beach (2.5 kilometers / 1.5 miles long!), to the very small, such as the beach at Porto Meloxo (a mere 100 meters / 325 feet in length).  In front of the tiny beach at Porto Meloxo is where you find Taberna Meloxeira.

There is always a long list of restaurants waiting to be visited and checked off whenever I visit Galicia. Taberna Meloxeira had been on this list for a while now and I was excited to finally able to make it there for a relaxed Sunday evening supper last fall. While my visit was in the evening, I would actually recommend going during the day to enjoy the view of the wooden boardwalk and the small Porto Meloxo beach right out front. You might even take a stroll before or after dining along the boardwalk that meanders over to the Port of Meloxo, a charming little fishing port dotted with small fishing boats.

Inside the small comfortable restaurant the wait staff is extremely friendly and helpful. In no time at all I was ready to peruse the menu with a glass of water, albariño wine, and a tasty little empanada appetizer. Immediate seating was available on this Sunday evening, but most other days of the week are booked out in advance at this charming small eatery (there are 9 tables with seating for about 30).

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The menus at Meloxeira Taberna are so cute! Whimsically done in the style of old fashioned Rubio educational workbooks (cuadernillos Rubio), used in Spanish schools since the late 1950’s. Within, the menu contains something for everyone: for the adults, menu items are printed in schoolhouse cursive style. For the kids, there are games to be played, pictures to be drawn, and even a little bit of homework to be done if they get bored. Ok, maybe all of the fun and games are for the adults too!

Fun and games aside, the menu (above) is a treat to peruse featuring a wide variety of Asian fusion dishes along with more traditional Galician items. Lists of appetizers, ceviches, fish, wok dishes, and meats fill the pages. There is a short list of wines printed on the cover of the menu, and the restaurant also dedicated an entire wall (actually a chalkboard) to speak directly to us, the diner, about the various drink options. Titled “And what is it that you like?”, the board discusses the wines available, suggests cava if you are feeling like something a little bubbly, Jerez if you are the adventurous sort, and even a gin & tonic if you might want to visit the beach later. It closes with an invitation to drink, eat, enjoy, relax, and smile. What a lovely welcome!

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A large chalkboard decorates one wall. The evening of my visit, it closed with a welcoming message inviting guests to drink, eat, enjoy, relax, and smile!

It was quite difficult to pick just a few items to try, but the waitress was truly helpful in explaining various dishes to help the selection process along. To begin, La Presa de bellota ahumada, cured and smoked Iberian ham that was served in an absolutely stunning presentation with jewel-like drops of salsas made of: Sriracha, wasabi, mango, peas and radiccio. This plate was stunningly beautiful, but it was even more delicious! The ham was silky and tender, with a light smoky flavor. Mixing and matching the flavors from the various sauces was a flavorful adventure. A really wonderful dish.

 

The next course was zamburiñas Thai a la brasa (grilled Thai variegated scallops). Delicious, fresh from the sea local scallops with a flavorful Thai sauce were perfectly satisfying.

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Zamburiñas Thai a la brasa (grilled Thai scallops)

For the main course, Arroz Thai salteado con gambas y vegetales (Thai rice sautéed with shrimp and vegetables). Very flavorful with a nice punch of fresh herbs and lime to brighten up this savory rice dish that had a nice subtle hint of smokiness from the fire wok in which it was prepared. Meloxeira is also known for their ceviche dishes, no surprise given the quality of the local Galician fish that is used. Ceviche will definitely be on the list to order during my next visit!

 

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Arroz Thai salteado con gambas y vegetales (Thai rice sautéed with shrimp and vegetables)

Just a few days earlier I experienced my first “Torrija” (see the previous post from Culler de Pau), which is a Galician dessert that is more or less a very custardy French toast. That description doesn’t do it justice at all, and when I saw it on the menu at Taberna Meloxeira, I couldn’t wait to try their version!  The Torrija was served hot, caramelized, and with a generous scoop of excellent quality vanilla ice cream.  A lovely close to a very nice meal.

 

 

Torrija caliente con helado de vainilla (hot Torrija with vanilla ice cream)

 

In the few short years it has been open, Taberna Meloxiera has earned a stellar reputation as a place to have a good time, enjoying the inventive menu, quality products, and friendly, knowledgeable service. They have been listed in the Guia Repsol and were recently recommended by Michelin star chef Pepe Solla (of Casa Solla in nearby Poio, Galicia). Well deserved!


Taberna Meloxeira
Rúa Porto Meloxo 100, O Grove, Galicia (map)
+34 886 161 389

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/taberna.meloxeira
email: tabernameloxeira@gmail.com

English spoken: Yes

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Date of visit: Thursday, September 15, 2016

With an afternoon free in O Grove, I jumped at the chance to make a reservation at Restaurante Culler de Pau on a beautiful day in mid-September this year. From my table right against the wall to wall windows in a stark white building perched upon a hilltop, I enjoyed an expansive view of bateas (large wooden rafts that float in the waters of Galician inlets where shellfish are cultivated) on the Ría de Arousa.

In addition to possessing one of Galicia’s 13 Michelin stars in 2016, Javier Olleros is known for being one of the most admired chefs in Galicia. Chef Olleros is also part of GrupoNove. As mentioned in earlier posts about YayoDaporta Restaurante, A Estación, Casa Solla, and Alborada, Grupo Nove published a book in 2015, 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 Olleros is pictured amongst the boulders of picturesque Con Negro beach located on the westernmost edge of the O Grove peninsula (with stunning sunsets as it faces the Atlantic Ocean – map) [the landscape] holding a bouquet of fresh herbs [the product] representing the organic wild and cultivated herbs and a Galician variety of tender corn that are cultivated and foraged for by two local nearby farms [the producers] specifically for Culler de Pau.

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Expansive views of the bateas in the Ría de Arousa from the dining room of Culler de Pau.

Of the two tasting menus offered, I opted for the shorter 6 course menu, mostly based upon time … it would take about 1.5 hours for the shorter menu as opposed to the 13 course menu that would take approximately 2.5 hours. An optional pairing of 4 wines was offered as well. Upon making my selection, the aperativos (appetizers) began to arrive. First, olives were placed on the table then a small cup of gazpacho (chilled soup) made with the broth of mussels and a variety of small cherry tomatoes. It was fresh, light, and tasted of summer.

Recaredo Terrers Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2009

The first wine of the afternoon was this Recaredo Terrers Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2009, a dry sparkling cava from the Alt Penedès wine region (near Barcelona).

Bonito de Burela, encurditos, vinagrete de tomate (tuna from the northern coast of Galicia, pickles, tomato vinaigrette)

The first course was a beautiful and absolutely delicious plate of bonito de Burela (tuna from a town called Burela, located on the northern coast of Galicia) with tiny pickled vegetables and a tomato jam accenting two creamy sauces.

The next wine was this Finca Meixeman Guímaro, a Mencia from the Ribeira Sacra wine region.  It was paired with the following two courses.


Huevo, queso San Simón y migas de pan (egg, San Simón cheese, bread crumbs)

Pictured above, a fresh farm sous vide to 63° egg at the bottom of a pool of smoky San Simón cheese ‘bisque’ topped with crunchy seasoned bread crumbs. This was my favorite dish of the day. When I spoke with Chef Olleros at the end of my meal we talked about this dish and how, despite the fact that I’d obviously never had it (or anything quite like it) before, it seemed familiar – like my favorite comfort food. I would not hesitate to make a return trip to Culler de Pau just to have this again. Not a drop went to waste as I utilized the organic white & wheat local bread to sopetear (sop up) every bit!

Merluza, salsa ‘meunière’ y quinoa (hake fish, meunière sauce and quinoa)

Perfectly cooked merluza (hake fish) over a meunière sauce with a dollop of pil pil (an emulsion made from olive oil, garlic and fish broth, in this case most likely the same merluza) and a bit of quinoa on the side was straightforward, perfectly prepared, and absolutely lovely.

Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Reserva – what a unique pairing for roast beef!

Rather than a red wine to accompany roast beef, the next wine pairing broke with usual tradition. A white wine from La Rioja was selected. It was quite a surprise, but this 2003 Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Reserva totally worked as a pairing with this next savory dish.

Solomillo de vaca (como roast beef), zanahoria y guiso de champinon (beef sirloin (like roast beef), carrot and stewed mushrooms)

They referred to this beef sirloin as “like roast beef”, and it was – but imagine the most tender, flavorful roast beef you’ve ever had over an intensely beefy pan sauce. Really delicious. The sides, while small, were exceedingly flavorful. A stripe of carrot and grapefruit cream along one side, stewed mushrooms wrapped in Swiss chard, and (my favorite little taste) pasta in salsa de vaina de grelo (turnip green sauce) accompanied the beef.

As we moved into the dessert courses, I noticed that the playlist was including quite a bit of Frank Sinatra. “My Way” started, as if on cue, when the dessert wine pairing was presented, a 2009 Oremus Tokaji Aszu 3 Puttonyos from Hungary.

Fresas con limón albahaca (strawberries with lemon and basil)

Strawberries macerated with lemon and basil topped with fresh blackberries and basil ice cream with an accent of coconut citrus foam. Perfectly refreshing and so lovely to enjoy in the last gasp of summer.

Torrija caramelizada, café, cacao y leche cruda (caramelized torrija, coffee, cocoa and raw milk)

Torrija is a classic Galician dessert, and one I had not yet tasted. What a way to be introduced! It’s basically an extremely custardy french toast (this one stuck me as more of a bread pudding) made of sweet brioche. This version (I had a couple of others after this) had an extremely soft, creamy custard interior (other versions had more obvious bread cubes), and a delicious burnt sugar crust. Served in a puddle of coffee flavored cream with some crunchy chocolate bits and a quenelle of raw milk ice cream, this was an exceptional dessert.

It was truly a pleasure to spend a few minutes chatting with Javi Olleros after this wonderful meal. In a relatively short time we covered a wide range of topics; the importance of teamwork in his restaurant (the team is everything at Culler de Pau; on social media the first hashtag they use is #equipocullerdepau (teamcullerdepau) and on the restaurant’s website, “team” is listed above “chef”), the theme of utilizing the best seasonal products from the region, how food can trigger memories, and the idea of maintaining Galicia’s unique identity while it develops as a culinary and touristic destination. Chef Olleros is extremely passionate about all of these topics, and it’s easy to see after meeting him why it is that he is so deeply respected by his peers in the Galician culinary scene.

MyLifeOnVacation and Javi Olleros


Restaurante Culler de Pau
Calle Reboredo 73, O Grove, Spain (map)
+34 986 732 275

Website: www.cullerdepau.com/en/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/restaurantecullerdepau
Instagram: www.instagram.com/cullerdepau
Twitter:  www.twitter.com/RestCullerdepau

I also spoke with Chef Olleros about his appearance on a recent episode of the Galician gastronomic television program Gastrópodos, hosted by Chef Beatriz Sotelo of Restaurante A Estación. They explored a bit of O Grove (which hosts an annual seafood festival) and shared much information about local centola (centolla -crab). We even got to see Berto from D’Berto Restaurante as a judge during the cooking competition of the show!

View the O Grove – A Centola episode of Gastrópodos here: http://www.crtvg.es/tvg/programas/gastropodos/

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Date of visit: Tuesday, September 21, 2016

Chef and owner Adrián Felipez opened Restaurante Miga on Praza de España, right in the middle of A Coruña, in April of 2016. By the time I visited in September, Miga had earned a reputation as a foodie destination in A Coruña serving innovative farm to table fare in comfortable yet elegant surroundings. Miga sources its produce from within a 35 kilometer radius (approximately), and even has an arrangement with a local farmer in the village of Baldaio to purchase all the eggs produced by a Galician breed of hen, that are only fed a diet of turnip greens and red millet, for use in the restaurant. Another unique aspect is that Miga is the only restaurant in Coruña, and Galicia for that matter, with a kamado, an egg shaped ceramic Japanese wood or charcoal burning oven (Miga uses wood) that imparts a light smoky flavor to the items cooked within.

Everything on the menu (pictured below) sounded wonderful. I opted for the tasting menu option called the “Paseo por Miga” (Stroll around Miga), 5 salado (savory) and 2 dulce (sweet) dishes. Add in a wine pairing option, and a lovely afternoon was set into motion.

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A nice glass of cava (Llopart Integral, a Spanish sparkling brut nature wine from the Penedès wine region near Barcelona), along with a basket of bread featuring well-known delicious Galician breads pan de Carballo and pan de Carral (the darker of the 2) arrived at the table first. Bonito (tuna) was in season at the time of my visit so it was featured in several courses beginning with the first course, an ahilda de bonito curado en agua de mar (skewer of tuna cured in sea water) with pipara basque (spicy basque peppers). The fish was lovely and the peppers a surprise in their level of spiciness!

Miga has several seating options to accommodate a variety of dining experiences. Two adjoining dining rooms in the back of the restaurant with a few larger tables for more intimate dining (or for a group), outdoor patio seating on the Plaza de España for those wanting to enjoy a casual experience with the ambiance of the city, and the front of the restaurant where casual two and four person high tops enjoy an excellent view of the kitchen. I opted for the view of the kitchen and enjoyed watching Chef Felipez and his staff at work creating these beautiful dishes.

Chef Adirán Felipez carefully crafting in Miga’s open kitchen.

The second course was another take on bonito (tuna) this time asado (roasted – in the kamado oven) with ponzu sauce, tomato, chives, cilantro, green onion, and dried corn. I nearly considered cancelling the next 3 courses to just repeat this one, it was so beautifully flavored.

Roasted bonito looked and tasted amazing!

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Chef Felipez working with the kamado, a Japanese wood burning oven that imparts a subtle smoky flavor to whatever is cooked within.

The third course of pimiento rojo a la brasa (roasted red peppers) with caviar, potato chips, and local Baldaio chicken egg yolk, also came out of the kamado. This was an interesting dish where the subtly smoky red pepper was cut into thin strips and played like pasta with the yolk making a creamy sauce when twirled all together with the caviar. The waiter advised me to get ready to “mojar mucho pan” (dip a lot of bread) into this dish to sop up all of the goodness. This lovely Madai Godello Sobre Lías from Bierzo paired very nicely with this course and the next.


This beautiful merluza de pincho (line caught hake fish) over a pil pil suave (garlic mayonnaise) with judias tiernas (green beans) was another favorite of the day. The fish was perfectly prepared and so delicious with the green beans fresh from Chef Felipez’ garden.

The final savory course was also from the kamado. Award winning Viña Peón by Adega O Canceliño, a Mencia Garnacha from the Ribeira Sacra wine region, was a beautiful red wine to accompany the pork ribs. I feel very fortunate to have sampled this wine again when I visited Eclectic Restaurant a few days later.

Costillas de cerdo confitadas y a la brasa (Grilled confit pork ribs – above right) were so perfectly cooked they slid right off the bone. Topped with an extremely tasty combination of pisto de cebolla y tomate (onion and tomato ratatouille), smoked toasted cornbread crumbs, and fresh herbs (cilantro, mint, basil, chives and scallions), this dish was delightfully fresh and full of flavor.

One more wine to accompany dessert? Sure, why not! Sitta Dulce Nana is a sweet 100% Albariño wine from Attis Bodega in the Rias Baixas wine region.

The first dessert of piña a la brasa (grilled pineapple, also from the kamado) with helado de coco (coconut ice cream) was an absolute revelation. The combination of the acidic pineapple, smoky from the kamado, smooth ice cream studded with chunks of chewy coconut, accented by a fresh hit of yerbabuena (spearmint) chiffonade was just perfect together.

The second dessert was the accurately named tarta fea de zanahoria (ugly carrot cake) with helado de yogurth (with yogurt ice cream). It’s not very pretty, but this deconstructed take on carrot cake was deeply satisfying with sweet creamy carrots and crunchy cookie crumble, and a little bit surprising too with tangy bits of candied ginger.

The word miga refers to the crumb of the bread. When something has mucha miga it means that there is a lot below the surface. There is a nice double meaning here with the restaurant’s name, as there certainly is a lot going on at Miga: the sourcing of excellent local ingredients, careful preparation of said ingredients, a unique Japanese oven, and friendly, welcoming service. 
Miga
Praza de España 7, A Coruña, Galicia (map)
+34 881 92 48 82

Website: www.migacoruna.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/migacoruna
Instagram: www.instagram.com/migacoruna

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Date of visit: Friday, September 23, 2016

 

La Casa Barrié – photo taken from the English Route of the Camino de Santiago that passes directly in front. Home to Bido Restaurante.

The city of A Coruña is known for having beautiful architecture and some absolutely gorgeous stately historical buildings. One of the grande dames of the Corunese cityscape is La Casa Barrié (Barrié House), built in 1916. Unique in both size and design, it occupies a large city block near the Plaza de Vigo and is built in an “eclectic” style, which is to say a mixture of different architectural styles (Classic, Baroque, and Modernist). It is within this building that Bido Restaurante is located, right on the English Route of the Camino de Santiago on one of the main thoroughfares that leads into the old part of the city.

Beginning in August of this year, social media in A Coruña started buzzing about a new restaurant set to open in late September by Chef Juan Crujeiras, founder and co-proprietor of Michelin-starred A Estación Restaurante in Cambre, Galicia. Since I was fortunate enough to have visited A Estación twice last year and enjoyed both visits immensely, I was really hoping to be able to dine at Bido during my September trip to Galicia. Alas, it wasn’t to be … the restaurant’s opening was three days after I was scheduled to leave A Coruña. When Chef Crujeiras ever so kindly invited me over to Bido for a sneak peek of the restaurant a few days before the actual opening, I was absolutely delighted to accept!

The name Bido comes from bidueiro, the Galician word for “birch”, as in the tree. The restaurant’s unique logo incorporates a graphic interpretation of a birch leaf (note the blocks that form straight line of the letter “B”, top of the letter “I” and the corners of the “D” in BIDO, below), and also makes reference to the intricate patterns often seen in the old fashioned hydraulic (cement) tile floors of which Chef Crujeiras is quite fond.

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When I arrived early on a Friday afternoon the team at Bido was buzzing about working to finalize all of the last minute details since the restaurant was actually opening in just a few more days. Table settings weren’t yet laid down, but there was already an inviting comfort to the refined airy space. Personalized with birch branches, leather chairs, and natural golden tones, the architecturally impressive interior brings a sense of nature and the outdoors into this city restaurant. While the setting at Bido is a bit more elegant than at her sister restaurant in Cambre, the atmosphere is less formal. There are no tablecloths, for example, and one can sit at the comfortable bar to enjoy a beverage and a bite to eat.

Sipping on a glass of wine at one of the comfortable high tops near the window with a lovely view out onto Calle Marcial de Adalid. Note the birch leaf motif from the logo repeats in the awning.

Bido Restaurante serves contemporary Galician cuisine in quite the same style as the dishes that are served at A Estación. A unique feature of Bido’s menu is that the main courses are all served as media raciónes (half portions), so that guests may try multiple items. As a matter of fact, several of the dishes listed in Bido’s menu are quite similar to dishes we enjoyed at A Estación and, from all accounts, they are executed with the same high level of quality.

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The current version of the menu (menu photos courtesy of Chef Crujeiras):

Para Empezar, Picar O Compartir (To start, Nibble, or Share)
Entrantes (Starters)
Principales (Main Dishes)
Y de postre qué hay? (What’s for dessert?)

 

 

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Well, I did get to try something of the food during the visit to Bido – a seafood croqueta! It was delicious!

Bido takes full advantage of the beautiful well-stocked bar that dominates the front of the restaurant with a specialty cocktail program that covers a great many of the classics. In addition to the cocktails and spirits, they offer a by-the-glass selection of unique and interesting higher end wines. Normally wines of this level are only available by the bottle, particularly in A Coruña, so this is a unique feature allowing guests to sample wines that might not otherwise be found by the glass.

Below, Chef Crujeiras poses with one of the bottles being sampled on the afternoon of my visit and with yours truly (MyLifeOnVacation) for an Instagram post.

In a recent interview on the local Galician culinary radio program Come e Fala, Chef Crujeiras expressed his excitement about this new project and commented that Bido’s opening has exceeded his expectations. With a passionate and devoted team on board (including Manual Otero, the charming maître d’ – head waiter, from A Estación who was featured in this interesting article earlier this year), this new outpost has been established in fine form. While A Estación remains as highly regarded as ever, the arrival of Bido is an absolute boon to A Coruña’s dining scene.


Bido Restaurante
Marcial  de Adalid 2, A Coruña, Spain (map)
+34 881 92 28 47

Website: www.bidorestaurante.es
Facebook: www.facebook.com/bido-restaurante
Bido Instagram: www.instagram.com/bidorestaurante
Chef Crujeiras Instagram:  www.instagram.com/crujeiras


Come e Fala Radio Program – September 9, 2016 episode featuring Chef Crujeiras

A Coruña’s Modernist Route (Ruta Modernista) – For more information on the beautiful historical modernist buildings in A Coruña , see the Coruña Turismo site – available here in English.

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