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

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

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

El Descansillo = The Landing

Comfy and casual interior

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

The menu … where to even start??

Obviously, one starts with wine, especially in Galicia!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pulpo over pulpo. So good!

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

San Martiño – local Galician fish

… and, the bill …

Always Estrella Galicia!

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

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

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

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