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Archive for the ‘Rias Baixas’ Category

Date of Visit: Monday, May 1st, 2017

img_5713On Galicia’s western coast lies the town of O Grove which is known as the o paraíso do marisco – the shellfish paradise. So it’s no wonder that a restaurant located in the heart of O Grove’s pedestrian center has become so well known for their seafood burgers. We enjoyed an afternoon visit to Misturas Tapería during our spring 2017 trip to Galicia. 

Misturas features unique artwork throughout the restaurant, exterior and interior. A large canvas next to the front door is specifically designated for customers to contribute to with their own artistic stylings. The articulated wooden dolls hanging from the ceiling are particularly jovial, and give a really good sense of the cheerful attitude we encountered during our entire visit. As we passed through the front room, a bar with several high-top tables, this gorgeous display of artisan bread and jamón (ham) really caught my eye.  (see photo below)

We were greeted at the front and shown to our table in the back dining room by Chef and owner César García Fernández himself. This year he is celebrating 20 years as a chef with the last 7 or so here at Misturas. We spoke only for a few minutes but his friendly, approachable personality comes shining through and is equally transmitted through the restaurant’s playful décor and the menu itself.

The single page menu is divided into several different sections with a traditional naming convention: Embutídos (cured meats), Frituras en Aceite de Oliva (fried in olive oil), and Especialidades a la Brasa (grilled specialties). Several menu sections were a little more cleverly worded: Ensaladas Frescas y Divertidas (fresh and fun salads), Más Natural (more natural), and Mìticos (legendary).

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Our table in the back dining room afforded us a nice view into the kitchen where Chef César García was busy prepping after kindly showing us to our seats.

Four kinds of artisan bread for the table (above, left). To accompany this lovely variety of bread, four flavored butters were presented (from left to right): yerbas verdes (green herbs – cilantro and basil), mojo picón (a flavor typical of the Canary Islands), limón (lemon), and fresa (strawberry).

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We always love a good croqueta in Galicia and these Croquetas de Pulpo y Grelos (octopus and turnip greens croquettes) from the “fried in olive oil” section of the menu were excellent – rich and delicious! We shared a bottle of local albariño with our meal, a 2015 Pazo Señorans from the Val do Salnes in the Rias Baixas D.O..

From the “more natural” section of the menu, we opted for the Wok de Verduras Barbacoa con Vieiras (wok cooked barbecued vegetables with scallops). Fresh and delicious, they came with a surprise – generous slices of crispy jamón ibérico (Iberian ham) on top. A very nice plate for the table to share. The photo on the left, above, is the plate as it was served, and the photo on the right a close-up of a scallop and those delicious vegetables.

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Burgers de centolla (king crab) and burger de rabo de vaca (oxtail)

We shared the burgers family style, our server slicing them each in half tableside. Two burgers de Centolla (king crab) and one burger de rabo de vaca (oxtail) were all stellar; each topped with Gouda cheese and a runny egg. Flavorful dipping sauces were splashed around the serving board Jackson Pollock style and chunks of addictively delicious roasted potatoes accented the board.

Misturas first ventured outside of traditional hamburgers with a pulpo (octopus) burger and now offer many varieties on their separate burger menu that takes up an entire page! The selections on this day were: Pulpo (Octopus), Chocos en su tinta (cuttlefish in their own ink), Atun rojo (Bluefin tuna), Rodaballo (Turbot), San Martiño (John Dory), Rape con gambón rojo (Monkfish with red shrimp), and Lubina de anzuelo con vieiras (line caught bass with scallops).  The burger de Centolla (king crab) that we enjoyed was an off-menu special.

The burgers at Misturas aren’t limited to the seafood variety. In addition to a tasty looking veggie burger (quinoa, eggplant and grilled pepper) there is a wide range of interesting options for the meat eaters: Rabo de vaca (Oxtail), Carrillera Ibérica (Iberian pork cheek), Pollo de corral (Free-range chicken), Lacón (Bacon), Magrete de pato con foie (Duck breast magret with foie gras), and Secreto Ibérico (Iberian pork loin)

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A neighboring table enjoyed the grilled fish deboned and plated tableside.

For dessert, we couldn’t not get the torrija (pictured on the left above). Torrija is often referred to as Galician French Toast, but for me it often plays more like bread pudding. Misturas’ version was made with orujo (Galician moonshine!) and had a crunchy sugar topping. On the right above, is the sweet grilled pineapple with flambéed rum sauce and ice cream that the entire table raved about. Misturas offers café a pote (pot brewed coffee) as opposed to espresso based coffees to accompany dessert.

While the seafood burgers are unique and we enjoyed them immensely, I look forward to returning to Misturas to explore more of their interesting menu and to enjoy the friendly service and relaxed atmosphere. Calling ahead for a reservation is recommended, especially during the busy summer months.


Misturas Tapería Restaurante
Rúa Plateria 18, O Grove, Spain (map)
+34 986 732 877

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Misturas-tapería-restaurante-301410993243294
Instagram: www.instagram.com/taperiarestaurantemisturas

English spoken: Yes

 

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Date of visit: Saturday, April 29, 2017

“Galicia is Different.” That phrase is seen a lot in social media and it’s quite true. Galicia is full of unique places, people and things to do. One unique place to visit is the aldea (village) of Fofán. We first visited Monica and Juan’s charming stone house in the hills of the O Salnés region in 2015 (read all about that visit here). Since then, the industrious couple have made many noteworthy changes to their quirky little agrochic haven:

1.  The 2016 fall harvest was fruitful with the arrival of this sweet little bundle to Fofán – baby Carmen! This captivating little beauty loves everyone who visits.

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Juan, baby Carmen, and Monica welcome visitors to their home in Fofán.

2. Two guest rooms have been welcoming visitors in the main house for some time now via AirBnB. Both done in clean, crisp white, guests will feel quite at home in either of these rooms on the house’s main floor. I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to sleep here and wake up to that delicious, fresh-baked bread smell wafting in from the kitchen just down the hall!

3. Monica now hosts bread making classes in the kitchen at Fofán. The home’s kitchen isn’t for show – it’s a true working kitchen. Monica continues to make her legendary pan de calabaza (pumpkin bread), and now offers various bread making classes by appointment. We participated in an “international” bread making class. Other classes are geared towards artisan bread, pastry, Galician empanadas, and even classes for kids to come and try their hand at crafting homemade bread.

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Here I am getting my hands dirty making Chinese ‘bao‘ buns, stuffed with a delicious mix of ground chicken, ginger, garlic, and scallion. The bao were then placed in a bamboo steamer for about 20 minutes until ready. The best part of the class? Sampling the delicious product!

The Chinese bao and Italian foccaccia that we made during the class are on the left. Monica’s signature bread, the pan de calabaza is on the right.

Delicious homemade Focaccia in three easy steps:
Make the dough.
Spread it out by hand with good olive oil and fresh herbs (rosemary here).
Bake to perfection in the oven with a bit of steam.

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Monica and MyLifeOnVacation pose with the freshly griddled Tunisian black olive flatbread.

4. Monica and Juan are frequent international travelers so inspiration from exotic locales feels right at home in the aldea. As pictured above, we made Tunisian flatbread, Italian focaccia, and Chinese bao during the international bread making class. We then learned about some of that international luxury was also coming to the lower level of the house in the form of a Turkish bath / hammam. The basement was extended to be the home of the new sauna. Since this photo was taken, in April 2017, the construction has been completed: windows and doors of the cellar (pictured below) were installed and the Turkish bath / hammam is operational at the time of publication of this post.

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The basement at Fofán, now home to a relaxing Turkish bath.

5. A bonus of the basement expansion is this gorgeous new terrace above, situated right off of the kitchen. With a quaint white picket fence, ample seating, gorgeous Portuguese tiles, and fantastic hillside views, this is a completely inviting place to relax and soak in the peace and tranquility of the aldea below.

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Visitors will enjoy this beautiful large patio overlooking the entire village. One can actually see the ocean from the house! Looks like the perfect spot to enjoy a bottle of wine.

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How about a closer look at that Portuguese tile on the new terrace? Gorgeous! And our Eferro zocos (wooden clogs – in this case sandals and boots) look great too! I’m wearing newly acquired sandals and Monica is sporting her custom-made wedding boots.

6. The wide variety of trees and plants impressed us during our first visit back in 2015 – more than 30 different varieties. Since then there are even more plants, trees and crops being planted. In addition to the existing greenhouse, two new structures are now on the property in Fofán: a bunny hutch and chicken coop!

Cute bunnies in the hutch and productive heritage chickens in the coop.

You never know what’s going to be growing in the village: During our visit, fresh herbs, artichokes and strawberries were in season. We enjoyed sampling the sweet fresh picked strawberries immensely.

7. There are hórreos all over Galicia, but very few have been transformed into a comfortable guest room that one can stay in.  Talk about a unique opportunity at Fofán!

8. But the most notable change since our 2015 visit has got to be the acquisition of Galicia’s “largest bottle of Albariño”!  It was originally a boat (constructed in 1999 to promote the Camino de Santiago) and is now affixed to the land here in Fofán. A local artist from Coruña was brought in to paint the “label” of the wine bottle. Since these photos were taken in April 2017, all of the construction work has been completed and the bottle is ready for guests to stay in this utterly unique lodging.

The local newspaper published this great article titled “Sleeping inside a bottle” in June 2016, which shows the final look of the bottle inside and out. In addition to offering the entire bottle for guests to rent overnight, they plan to also use the sitting area to host wine tastings, or other events, in the garden. Let me guess …. tastings of Albariño wine??

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Photo courtesy of MadeinFofán.

As mentioned above, one can actually see the ocean from Made in Fofán.  As the map above illustrates, they are conveniently located to a variety of interesting towns in the O Salnés region:

 

 

 

  • Meaño (13 minute drive) The closest destination wineries are in Meaño, a mere 13 minutes away from Fofán.
  • Cambados (15 minute drive) The noble old town of Cambados is known as the “Capital of Albariño” and was named a “Cidade Europea de Vino 2017” (2017 European Wine City). Their annual Albariño wine festival, the first weekend in August, is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year in the region.
  • Portonovo (18 minute drive) Just on the other side of Sanxenxo is the beautiful Baltar Beach in the town of Portonovo. Calm waters welcome visitors of all ages.
  • Sanxenxo (20 minute drive) In the mood for a party atmosphere? Look no further than Sanxenxo, the “Marbella of Galicia”. Expensive yachts populate the marina and Silgar Beach fills with local and international tourists all summer long. From here one can even catch a boat to explore the island of Ons.
  • Combarro (21 minute drive) Try Combarro for a quiet and quaint atmospheric fishing village with a beautiful port and winding alleyways.
  • O Grove (30 minute drive) O Grove is known as the “paraiso de marisco” shellfish paradise and worth a visit explore and enjoy their many beaches (especially the longest, Lanzada Beach) and many (many!) seafood restaurants.


Made in Fofán
Lugar de Fofán 8, Armenteria
Meis, Galicia, Spain
+34 622 098 721

Website: www.madeinfofan.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/madeinfofan
Twitter: www.twitter.com/madeinfofan
Email: madeinfofan@gmail.com

See links to AirBnB listings here: SleepInFofán

English spoken: Yes

For more information on the O Salnés region, please visit: www.osalnes.com/en

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UPDATE: In June 2018 the restaurant moved to a new location just a few blocks away at Rúa Real 77 (map). The new restaurant location is a special one, with access from either side of the building; the main pedestrian street in this part of the city (Calle/Rúa Real) and also from the Marina side, over which the dining room has splendid views from the expanse of floor-to-cieling second floor ‘galerias’ windows.

For those who always enjoyed the convivial atmosphere in the location on Calle/Rúa Estrella, there is good news! Taberna A Mundiña opened in September 2018 in the original location as a ‘taberna’, serving a smaller menu than the restaurant with options to have a more casual bite to eat (think octopus, croquetas, shellfish, ham, tortilla, other local specialties and a variety of cheeses and desserts) to accompany their nice selection of wines by the glass.

Originally published post below:

Date of Visit: Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The old part of the city of A Coruña is full of narrow pedestrian streets and alleys lined with bars and restaurants. Every evening is a lively scene, with people spilling out into the streets enjoying themselves until all hours. In May of this year we had the pleasure of taking a cruise out of London with stops in Asturias (Gijón), Galicia (Vigo & A Coruña), and Portugal (Lisbon). After the cruise, we spent an additional day in London then returned to Coruña for a few days.

The flight from London Heathrow to A Coruña on Vueling Airlines lands at 8:40 p.m., which gives a person enough time to exit the airport, get into town, check into a hotel and still catch an amazing sunset like this one we saw on the way to dinner.

Sunset from the shore of Orzán Beach. Photo taken at 10:21 p.m.


I had noticed A Mundiña on my very first visit to A Coruña in 2014. It is located on Calle de la Estrella, one of the aforementioned pedestrian streets lined with bars and restaurants in the old part of the city. My favorite hotels in Coruña are located near here so I had passed by and noticed their refined logo on the awning over the outdoor seating area, filled always with well-heeled diners, many times. Everything I had read about this place indicated it is one of the best restaurants in Coruña for quality seafood with a focus on the freshest product from the market, prepared in a traditional manner. This year (2016), the restaurant is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

 

The menu (above) is comprised of classic Galician seafood and marisco dishes.

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This is the tastiest bowl of Caldo Gallego (Galician Stew) I’ve had in all four trips to Galicia, and it was served as a complimentary amuse here. This version was really hearty with all of the traditional ingredients (potato, salt pork, white beans, and turnip greens) working in harmony to create an intensely flavorful broth.

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We selected this nice bottle of Albariño from Bodega Santiago Ruiz (located in the Rias Baixas wine region) to accompany this seafood feast.

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Cigalas! Langoustines en route from the display case to the kitchen where they had a date with the plancha (grill).

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The same cigalas fresh off of the grill a few minutes later and finished simply with a luxurious drizzle of olive oil. Absolutely perfect. A chuparse los dedos! (Finger licking good!)

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A plate of octopus was in order for our first meal back in Galicia. Pulpo á feira con cachelos (Octopus over boiled potatoes) is about as simple as it gets, and as delicious as ever.

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When inquiring about the specialty of the house we were directed without hesitation to this dish, La Caldeirada (fish stew). Boiled potatoes under a huge portion of whatever fish happens to be fresh at the market (this day it was merluza – hake fish) with   fresh peas in a paprika garlic sauce. Another simple, hearty, and wholly Galician dish; it was so satisfying, we were left with no room for dessert.

Well, no dessert, yet we welcomed and thoroughly enjoyed these simple dark chocolate petit fours with crumbled pistachios presented with the bill.

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The close of another wonderful meal. The food was fabulous and the service so exceptionally friendly and welcoming, we didn’t want to leave … even as we were the last people out the door at nearly 1 a.m. on a Tuesday night!

 

Lucas Pérez! Screen capture of a post from A Mundiña’s Facebook page (9/1/16).

In addition to the restaurant we visited in the old town of A Coruña, A Mundiña has a secondary location just 8 km (5 miles) away in Oleiros called Pazo do Rio (Manor House on the River) where special events and celebrations are held. Just as I was preparing to finalize this post, I saw that they had a very special celebration there just today – a despedida (going away party) for Deportivo La Coruña soccer player and local hometown hero Lucas Pérez, who is leaving Coruña for London to play for the Arsenal soccer team. I think this speaks volumes for how well-regarded the restaurant is, due in equal measure to the quality of their food and the warmth with which it is served.

 

 


A Mundiña
Taberna: Calle de la Estrella 10, A Coruña , Spain (map)
Restaurante: Calle Real 77, A Coruña , Spain (map)
+34 881 89 93 27

A Mundiña Website:  link
A Mundiña Facebook: link
A Mundiña Twitter: link
A Mundiña YouTube: link

Bodega Santiago Ruiz Website: link
Bodega Santiago Ruiz Instagram: link

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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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Monday, October 12th, 2015

“Aldea” is a Gallego word that means “hamlet”, a small village.  It seems that everyone in Galicia is either from an aldea or has family in an aldea (grandparents, perhaps) that they like to get away to and visit occasionally on the weekend.  A recently published article in La Voz de Galicia newspaper put it this way: “Lo que pasa es que unas veces uno puede elegir la aldea y otras veces la aldea ya viene de fábrica con la familia.” (What happens is that sometimes one can choose the aldea and other times the aldea comes by default with the family.)

When I was planning my first camino walk on the English route in 2014, there were so many town names that appeared on the map I thought we would be walking through something like suburban areas.  Instead, these were aldeas, very small hamlets of just a few houses, some occupied, but many not.  As is also seen in rural America, many small rural towns in Galicia are being abandoned and falling into disrepair as people move to larger towns and cities, or the elderly inhabitants pass on.

In October 2015 we fortunate to be able to accompany José of Turismo Verde de Galicia and his wife in a visit to the aldea of Fofán, where Monica Novas and husband Juan Lusquiños have a thriving specialty bread business, Made In Fofán.  This is not your ordinary Galician bread (although, ordinary Galician bread is incredibly delicious, so “ordinary” isn’t really the best word to use); this bread is made with calabaza (pumpkin/squash) and topped with poppy or sunflower seeds, made into single serving rolls.

We made the short drive up to Fofán that Monday afternoon from Cambados, Galicia after a fabulous lunch at Yayo Daporta’s restaurant.

Fofán is a quick 20 minute drive from Cambados, Galicia, in the O Salnés comarca (region).

Juan met us at the gate and gave us a guided tour of the gardens and orchard on our way to the house.

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Juan leading the tour, but Luna also helped to guide us around the gardens.

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Trees are all labeled.  This is a cherry tree (cerezo).

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Mano de Buda = Buddha’s Hand

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The beginning of a Buddha’s Hand fruit!

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How does your garden grow?

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Greenhouse

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Hola Monica! Monica welcomes us warmly to Fofán.

Monica greeted us on the stairs and showed us her ever so charming kitchen where rolls were already baking in the oven. Just imagine the smell!  There’s nothing like the smell of fresh bread baking.

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Bread making in process!

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Clockwise from the top left: selection of grapes, guavasteen (feijoa), kiwi, persimmon, and avocado, all grown in Fofán.

They also have baskets of their own organic produce from the garden and orchard that are offered as part of a kind of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture – where consumers can buy local, seasonal produce directly from the farmer).  I was quite surprised to learn that there is so much tropical fruit grown in Galicia.  Kiwi is quite common, as are avocados and guavasteens, as seen in the photo above.

The squash used in making the bread is actually all grown in the aldea, not just by Monica but also by her neighbors.  The project brings the neighbors together and they are looking at increasing the plantings again this year.  In a time where many aldeas are nearly empty with people moving to the cities, it’s really special to see that this one is holding on.

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The finished product – delicious poppy seed rolls!

This particular day there were several other visitors to Made In Fofán, including Gonzalo Germade and his family. Gonzalo operates La Queserí Tasting Room in nearby O Grove, where we had the great pleasure of dining a few nights before, and where we first sampled the delicious Made In Fofán bread.

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When life gives you an abundance of black currants, you make licor de cassis!

We spent the afternoon chatting and relaxing in the comfortable basement living room with a fireplace lit in the corner.  We were even treated to some of Juan’s homemade black currant liqueur.  As night was falling, Monica threw some chorizo on the fire and we all enjoyed a nice little supper of those flame grilled chorizo on her wonderful bread.

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“Chef” Monica throwing chorizo on the fire.

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Yum!

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Luna and Danna smelled the chorizo cooking. “Can we join the party?!”

It was such an enjoyable, memorable afternoon and evening!  When we went to leave, Monica sent some of that freshly baked bread with us which we also enjoyed for breakfast the next morning.

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Lovely view of the aldea, including a Galician hórreo in the yard.

At the time of our visit, they were preparing to offer the house as a Bed & Breakfast called Sleep In Fofán.  If you want to experience life in the aldea yourself, Sleep in Fofán is now available via AirBnB.

And in other exciting news, Monica now has a different kind of bun in the oven … she and Juan are expecting in the fall of this year (August 2016)!  Congratulations and Felicidades, pareja!!

MadeInFofán  / SleepInFofán
Lugar de Fofán 8, Armenteira
Meis, Galicia, Spain
+34 622 098 721
http://www.madeinfofan.com/
Email: madeinfofan@gmail.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/madeinfofan
AirBnB: SleepInFofán

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