Archive for the ‘Santiago de Compostela’ Category

Thursday, May 28, 2015

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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



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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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If there’s one thing that Americans know about Spain it’s that “the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain”, which comes from the musical (and movie) My Fair Lady.  But when I walked the Camino de Santiago’s English Route from Ferrol to Santiago de Compostela in June 2014 one of the first things I learned was that the rain in Spain doesn’t fall mainly on the plain, it falls in Galicia!  Galicia, through which the last 100 kilometers of any route of the Camino passes, is known for lush green hillsides, thanks to copious amounts of rain.  It’s absolutely beautiful, but can be very (very) wet.

Which only makes it even more of a miracle that we had 10 (ten!)  sunny days as we made our way slowly to Santiago.  It did rain in Coruña and Ferrol as I visited those charming cities before the walk.


Some people call A Coruña “la ciudad gris”, the grey city. I think I see why…


Rainy pedestrian street in A Coruña.

To be honest, I have no photo of the rainy afternoon in Ferrol because I took a nap and slept right through it.

But then, TEN sunny of days of walking!


Just look at that sun shining on the town square in Betanzos!


Sunny overpass outside of Betanzos.


A sunny day makes you appreciate a shady forest path.

And so our arrival into Santiago was also bright and sunny.


Sunshine! Rays of sunshine!

Well, our rain-free streak ended that evening in Santiago when it absolutely DOWNPOURED!  Everyone took shelter in cafes and stores, except those who were entranced by the ferocity of the deluge (like me) and perhaps took photos (also like me).


Just look at that downpour!

But the funny thing is that the rain could not dampen our spirits (pun intended), at all.  We had such a fun night enjoying our last evening together, having a lot of laughs, getting silly with maybe a bit too much wine (or was that just me?), and reminiscing over the week’s walk.


Having a good laugh despite the rain.

And so, as I prepare to return to Galicia to walk the Camino again, I’m now working on putting together my rain gear (which includes trying to figure out how to strap an open umbrella to my backpack …. yeah, that’s a work in progress!).  While I’m doing that, and when I get to Galicia, I’ll be sure to keep in mind the famous phrase that they have there: “E si chove, que chova!” And if it rains, let it rain!

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