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Posts Tagged ‘A Coruna’

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Bocadillo de calamares – Fried squid sandwich

Bocanegra’s bocadillo de calamares (fried squid sandwich) is already a classic in this 3 year old restaurant, making best-of lists that wax poetic about the bread (crisp with a soft large crumb), mayo (flawlessly acidic), and fresh squid (fried to crunchy perfection) that combine to make this stellar sandwich. I’m here to tell you that this sandwich lives up to the hype. But that’s not all Bocanegra is known for, not by a long shot. Chef Pablo Pizarro’s internationally inspired menu features tempting items from not only Galicia, but many other cultures as well. The Chef’s 7 course tasting menu (with wine pairings) took us on a flavorful tour around the world!

Bread service came with four types of excellent quality Galician bread (raisin walnut, brown, white and wheat), tomato and olive oil, plain olive oil, and a bowl of olives.

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Four excellent examples of Galician bread

Who doesn’t love a table-side prep? Our waiter, Toni, did not disappoint as he executed every step of the guacamole prep with great panache. Ripe avocados were mixed in a marble molcajete with precisely added tomato, red onion, Maldon sea salt, fresh squeezed lime and a healthy shot of Tabasco sauce. A perfect taste of Mexico, right in Galicia! Served with house made chips, the small portion was perfect to accompany our first pairing, “7 Cuervos”, a Galician Saison beer.

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Guacamole y Totopos – Guacamole with fried tortilla chips Guacamole made table-side – a perfect taste of Mexico right in Galicia!

 

The kitchen sent out smoked sardine on focaccia with whipped smoky San Simón da Costa cheese as an additional amuse-bouche. We’ve had a dish similar to this in other restaurants in Galicia and it’s a favorite for a reason – the rich, dense sardine is treated to a slightly sweet marinade, placed on top of a bed of creamy lightly smoky and sweet (thanks to a little hit of sugar whipped in) San Simón cheese all built on top of a baton of slightly crispy focaccia. Paired with Vermut Lustau rojo, a slightly botanical and not-too-sweet red vermouth from Jerez, in the south of Spain.

 

Focaccia, San Simón y Sardina – Focaccia, San Simon cheese and sardine

Crudo-style gently marinated seabream was dressed with lime, olive oil, red onion, cilantro sauce, and edible flowers and featured a sprinkling of tart, yet surprisingly sweet, chopped gherkin pickles. A light and refreshing dish paired nicely with 2016 Sameirás 2016, a Ribeiro blend of Treixadura, Godello, Lado and Loureira grapes.

 

Sargo Aliñado, Pepino, Lima – Marinated Seabream, gherkin, lime

Stunningly presented on beautiful plates, our fourth course was perfectly prepared merluza (hake fish) in salsa verde over mashed potatoes. Galician Padrón peppers were the main ingredient in the earthy, slightly acerbic sauce. What better to accompany this dish than some bubbly wine. Eidosela Espumoso Albariño sparkling wine (Burbujas del Atlántico – Atlantic bubles) cut right through the bitterness of the peppers.

 

Merluza, Salsa de Pimientos Verdes y Patata – Hake, Green pepper sauce and potato

Fresh oyster and razor clam tartare on a plate painted with spirulina served as the bed upon which a perfectly cooked sea bass rested. It tasted of fresh, clean sea. There was a surprise too; the oyster leaf placed as an accent is an herb actually tastes exactly like oyster. What an interesting discovery! This 2016 Godello by Godeval Cepas Vellas from Valdeorras was my favorite wine of the day. I could have sipped all afternoon long!

 

Lubina con Tartar de Ostra y Navaja – Sea bass with oyster and razor clam tartare

Our wine pairings switched from white to red with this smooth, organic Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) that called itself “sexy wine”. Our waiter described it as “potente; con cuerpo”. As such, the full-bodied 2015 Corral de Campanas paired nicely with our next plate: partridge, seared rare, over large tender white beans in a decadent pot liquor broth.

 

Perdiz y Habas – Partridge and beans

The final savory dish brought another continent’s delicious flavors to the table – Vietnamese fried egg roll stuffed with beef cheek, blood sausage and mushrooms, wrapped in lettuce with mint, basil and cilantro.

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Nem Vietnamita de Carrillera, Morcilla y Setas – Vietnamese egg roll of beef cheek, blood sausage and mushrooms
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Chef’s tasting menu plus wine pairings of the day.

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any time, you will know that my favorite Galician dessert is torrija. While this Spanish version of French toast is mostly seen around Easter time in the rest of Spain, it is found all the time in Galicia. Bocanegra’s housemade creamy delicious torrija came with lemon curd and a quenelle of dulce de leche ice cream on the side. Ice cider (cidra de hielo) from Galicia’s neighbor, Asturias, was our final wine pairing. Valverán 20 Manzanas, served cold, had a pure apple flavor perfectly suited to the dessert courses.

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Torrija con Helado de Dulce de Leche – Torrija with dulce de leche ice cream

The final dessert was surprising unique: helado de zanahoria — carrot ice cream! The presentation was artful with the carrot ice cream sharing the scene with chilled dark chocolate mousse, creamy peanut butter cream, chewy marshmallow pieces, buttery cookie crumbles, and decorative edible flowers.

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Chocolate, Cacahuete y Zanahoria – Chocolate, peanut and carrot

After a relaxing cup of café con leche to finish the meal, we had the chance to speak with chef Pablo Pizarro for a few minutes to talk travel and restaurants in other parts of Galicia.

Chef Pablo Pizarro focused on his craft in Bocanegra’s open kitchen.

As the topic of conversation turned to gin and tonics, our intrepid waiter rolled over an impressive cart giving us a front row seat to another impressive show as he prepared of a couple of well-crafted cocktails. Gin & Tonics are a big deal in Spain, and a staple in all bars. It’s no wonder, with this kind of careful attention to the art of the cocktail.

Date of Visits:
October 12, 2017 (tasting menu)
October 20, 2017 (bocadillo)

Bocanegra
Riego de Agua, 33, La Coruña 15001 (map)
+34 881 895 464

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bocanegracoruna
Instagram: www.instagram.com/bocanegra_coruna
Twitter: www.twitter.com/BocanegraCoruna
Website: www.conceptonegra.com

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When traveling near or far, it is always wise to ask locals where they eat. We were first heard about La Sartén from a local friend, Fran (of FranFret Guitars), and were really pleased to finally be able to visit during our most recent trip to Galicia in October, 2017.

La Sartén is a classic Galician restaurant in the old town of La Coruña that is known for quality Galician seafood, beautiful traditional preparations, and warm service from the friendly polished staff. Located just up from Plaza María Pita, it is one of several quality restaurants located along the Plaza de España, along with other well regarded establishments such as Miga, and A Pulpería de Melide.

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After being warmly welcomed upon entering the restaurant, we were shown to a nice table in the dining room and quickly got to looking over the wine menu. From a nicely representative list of Galician wines, we selected a Ribeiro from Casal de Armán. Their Finca Misenhora is a limited edition of only 3415 bottles made of mostly Treixadura with about 5% each Godello, and Albariño grapes. Clean, crisp, yet soft in the mouth, this lovely white went extremely well with the seafood we selected from the menu.

 

Perusing La Sartén’s ample menu which features a wide variety of preparations of local Galician shellfish, seafood, salads, and rice dishes:

 

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A delicious taste of pastel de marsico (savory seafood pudding) in puff pastry from the kitchen

In the mood for classic Galician fare, zamburiñas (variegated scallops) seemed like the logical place to start. These small scallops, cooked very simply with a slight hint of tart citrus and crispy crumbles of jamón ibérico, were so delicious. Scallops, particularly these small ones, are almost always served in Galicia with their delicious half-moons of roe still attached.

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Zamburiñas a la plancha con zumo de cítricos y polvo de jamón ibérico – Grilled variegated scallops with citrus juice and Iberian ham crumbles

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La Sartén serves a fine quality Galician bread that is perfect for sopping up all of the flavorful oil on the plate. There’s even a specific word for sopping up: sopetear!

We savored every morsel of this stellar salpicón de bogavonte y centolla (cold lobster and crab salad). Pictured below is just half of the dish, there were two portions of this light and refreshing salad loaded with tender chunks of flavorful lobster and spider crab, decorated with grated hard-boiled egg.

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Nuestro salpicón de bogavonte y centolla – house cold lobster and crab salad

With several different octopus options on the menu, we opted for the pulpo a la plancha con cama de patatas cocidas y cebolla (grilled octopus on a bed of boiled potatoes and onion). Octopus tentacles, cut longways and griddled on a flat top, were perfectly tender with a lovely char from the griddle. The boiled Galician potatoes, delicious in their simplicity, were merely drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with paprika. Red onions are not necessarily traditional, but the sweetness they added to this dish was inspired. This was another plate that you definitely want to sopetear with that wonderful Galician bread!

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Pulpo a la plancha con cama de patatas cocidas y cebolla – grilled octopus on a bed of boiled potatoes and onion

For dessert we took the advice of our friendly waiter and ordered the tarta de queso fria con galletas y moras (cold cheesecake with cookie crust and blackberries). Also drizzled with caramel sauce, this dessert made in house was light, creamy, and delicious.

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Tarta de queso fria con galletas y moras – cold cheesecake with cookie crust and blackberries

After thoroughly enjoying another afternoon of fine Galician wine and exceptional quality seafood, we will be sure to ask local friends for more recommendations in future visits to A Coruña!

Date of Visit: October 19, 2017


Restaurante La Sartén de Coruña
Plaza de España, 11, 15001 A Coruña (map)
+34 981 919 313

Website: www.restaurantelasarten.com
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/lasartenc
English spoken: YES

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Date of visit: Thursday, April 27, 2017

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Bido Restaurante exterior – located on the ground floor of the stately La Casa Barrié building in A Coruña.

Se come muy bien en Galicia” is a common refrain that you will hear over and over again when you spend any amount of time in Spain. It means “one eats very well in Galicia”.  This could not be a truer statement; with the high quality of local products (shellfish, fish, beef, etc.) and the passion with which local chefs prepare them, one does indeed eat very well in Galicia. And within Galicia, one eats extremely well in the city of A Coruña.

Coruña has a dynamic dining scene and one of the highest profile restaurant openings of late was the opening of Bido Restaurant last September. If you remember back to my blog post from last fall, I was able to stop by Bido a couple of days before the actual opening, but had to wait 7 months before returning to experience an entire meal. I’m happy to report that it was totally worth the wait!

The restaurant’s impressive bar is the first thing one notices upon entering the restaurant as it dominates one wall of the dining room. Along with the striking chandelier, one also notices a list of wines by the glass prominently displayed on the wall next to the bar. They proudly offer quality, higher end wines by the glass, a somewhat uncommon occurrence in Galicia. A quote at the bottom of the wine list assures us that “All you need is a glass of wine – by Bido”.

While Bido’s current menu contains subtle references to Chef Crujeiras’ former restaurant venture, A Estación, in the artwork and in many of the menu items, the physical menu itself is uniquely “Bido” – the pages actually roll up into a sumptuous custom leather sleeve, a nod to the many other touches of tawny leather around the restaurant.  Seasonal main courses at Bido are served as raciónes cortas (smaller portions) so that guests may try multiple items. Some appetizers may be up-sized to be a main course, offering plenty of flexibility in creating a unique dining experience.

 

We enjoyed the view from our table near the window as the parade of bread and snacks arrived. The bread in Galicia is hearty and amazing. The breadbasket here at Bido is no exception. The traditional white bread was lovely but the brown bread really stole the show as a wonderful example of the resurgence of a formerly unsung local hero: the chestnut. This bread came from a new shop that has opened in A Coruña called Castañam (a play on the Spanish words (chestnut) castaña and (yummy) ñam). It specializes in products made with Galician chestnuts, including this bread made from chestnut flour that is served at Bido and other nice restaurants in Coruña. The bread was accompanied by good quality Galician butter, an assortment of olives (big green Galician olives, black olives from Aragón) with confit garlic, and slightly addictive bacalao (salt cod) cream with cracker sticks. Then came refreshing bowls of salmorejo, a Spanish chilled soup made of pureed tomato, bread and potato that Saveur magazine calls “gazpacho’s richer, deeper cousin”.

 

For starters the croquetas de temporada (seasonal croquettes – seafood on this day) were a must. Fresh, hot, creamy, and bursting with seafood flavor, these stellar croquetas were slightly spicy and extremely satisfying. Also very satisfying was the empanada casera del día, made in-house with xouba (small Galician sardines) over caramelized onions in a crust of thin dough. Galician empanadas are traditionally meant to be eaten with your hands, but the crust on this version was delicate enough that we picked up our knives and forks.

A behind the scenes look into Bido’s kitchen! Eva cheerfully prepares that delicious xouba empanada. (Photo by Crujeiras – used with permission)

With such a nice list of wines by the glass, we ordered three different Galician whites to kick off our meal. Above left: Cíes, a lovely limited production old vines Albariño from Meaño in the Rías Baixas region. Above right: Avancia, another old vines white, a Godello grown in Valdeorras, made by Jorge Ordoñez who was the first person to bring Godello wine to the United States in the 1990s.

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The third white was the KomoKabras Albariño from the Entre os Rios winery.  I was excited to see this still on Bido’s wine by the glass menu since a few days later we would be staying at the Casa Rural (B&B) where the winery is located. We had a wonderful stay and really enjoyed visiting the winery … that will be another blog post!

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Smoked marinated salmon over fresh spinach leaves with drops of green apple vinagrette and burrata de requeixo da A Capela.  (Requeixo is a soft raw milk creamy Galician cheese similar to mascarpone made in A Capela, not far from A Coruña)

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Ravioli Bogavante (lobster ravioli)

Huge chunks of lobster wrapped in extremely delicate thin pasta over ratatouille bathed in a seafood sauce. We used the good Galician bread to sopetear (sop up) all of that flavorful sauce!

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When we weren’t familiar with the seasonal fish salmonete (red mullet), they brought a fresh one out to show us.

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Bido’s international cheese cart. This day it featured cheeses from France, England, Spain, and Galicia.

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The classic yet modern interior decór at Bido is enhanced by the vintage hexagon tile floor. It went very nicely with my newly acquired Eferro wooden sandals (purchased at their new storefront in A Coruña – more info from my visit to the original location in Merza here).  #ihavethisthingwithfloors

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Pescado del Día, arroz negro y emulsion de “allada” – fish of the day (salmonete = red mullet)

The plated version of the fish of the day (salmonete = red mullet) was served over black rice with an aioli-like garlic emulsion.  The fish was perfectly prepared and thoroughly enjoyed.

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To accompany Mr. Vacation’s solomillo (sirloin steak), he selected this Almirez Toro (Tempranillo) from Teso la Monja (located in the province of Zamora, Spain).

Chef Crujeiras does it all! Here he is delivering solomillo to the table which was topped with foie gras and shavings of last-of-the-season truffles(!), served with roasted potatoes and brocollini. So rich and delicious!

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Canelón de galo Celta, pesto de queso San Simón da Costa, setas de temporada y salsa de asado – Celta chicken cannelloni, San Simón cheese pesto, seasonal mushrooms and pan reduction sauce.

Listed on the menu as an appetizer, I requested the cannelloni as a main course. The kitchen was happy to up-size the portion and I am so glad they did – this dish ended up being my favorite plate of the day. So deliciously rich, this savory chicken (Galo Celta, a Galician heritage breed chicken), smokey San Simón da Costa cheese, mushrooms, pan reduction sauce, and a nice shaving of Parmesan cheese on top packed an umami punch. There may have even been truffle oil and foie gras inside (recipes I found online call for both). It was truly a fantastic dish.

Chef Crujeiras generously brought over a round of Tostado de Costeira, a lovely dessert wine from the Ribeiro wine region (located in the central part of southern Galicia, just to the east of the Rías Baixas). It’s a naturally sweet wine made from Treixadura grapes, served cold, with flavors of honey and raisin that paired perfectly with the parade of desserts that followed.

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Milhojas de Vainilla – Napoleon (or millefeuille, in French)

A classic dessert of vanilla cream between two layers of puff pastry served over a spiced chocolate sauce with Guanaja chocolate ice cream on the side.

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Limón – Lemon dessert

Lemon curd between two rows of toasted meringue and topped with lemon sorbet, sprinkled with lime zest. Creamy, tart and extremely refreshing.

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Torrija de Brioche Caramelizada – Caramelized Galician French Toast

All of Bido’s desserts are made in-house. Each was delicious, but this brioche torrija was my favorite. The torrija was custardy and creamy on the inside, with a crunchy sugar brûléed top (and bottom!), and served over a pecan cream sauce with fresh apple ice cream on the side. The ice cream tasted like fresh applesauce, making for a super refreshing contrast to the richness of the torrija.

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Beautiful dessert sampler.

Just when we thought our incredible meal had come to a close, this beautiful dessert sampler on a Portuguese painted tile arrived along with the elegant coffee service. Piña colada marinated pineapple chunks; Nata (thick whipped cream) with licór café (coffee flavored liquor) in the shot glasses; and bizcocho praliné (dried praline cake) with crema de nuez (walnut cream).

We had such an enjoyable afternoon! Bido is comfortable, yet refined. The service is warm and welcoming, yet professional as led by Manual Otero, the charming maître d’ who came to Bido from A Estación. The food is approachable, yet elevated. Even a humble chicken dish skyrocketed to the top of the list when prepared by Chef Crujeiras’ skilled kitchen. Se come muy bien en Bido! 

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 Chef Crujeiras takes a moment to say hello.  Thanks to the entire team at Bido for a wonderful afternoon!

Reservations are highly recommended, especially if you wish to dine during the prime hours (2:30 – 4pm and after 9pm in the evening).  Contact the restaurant at least a couple of weeks in advance for a mid-week reservations, and perhaps even a month or two for a weekend reservation.

 


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

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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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Date of visit: Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Arallo (red dot) just a short distance from Alborada (green dot) in the old part of A Coruña.

Arallo Taberna opened in early August 2016 by the same group that operates Alborada Restaurant in A Coruña, led by Chef Iván Domínguez. Since we had such a wonderful experience dining at Alborada in June of this year, I was really looking forward to visiting Arallo during the next visit to Galicia. By late September I was back in A Coruña with plans to meet up with my friends from Turismo Verde de Galicia on the evening of my arrival. We made Arallo our first stop!

Arallo Taberna is a very casual concept featuring an open kitchen (still a bit of a rarity in Galicia) with just one very long high table with seating for about 25 people and large open windows to accommodate patrons both inside and those spilling out onto Plaza María Pita, A Coruña’s largest and grandest square. The jovial atmosphere is relaxed, so much so that guests are not only invited, but encouraged, to eat with their hands. For those who wish to use utensils, chopsticks and disposable cutlery are provided in communal containers. When the long table is full, you take a number (meat counter style) and wait your turn to be seated. We were lucky enough to be seated right away given that there were a few open seats available on that Tuesday evening.

The restaurant calls itself a cocina contaminada (contaminated kitchen). There are even vintage gas masks hung up for decoration. They don’t mean that anything toxic is actually being cooked up in the kitchen, but rather that their dishes made with excellent Galician ingredients are ‘contaminated’ with other cultures’ influences, specifically Asian, resulting in a very tasty fusion. Following that theme, the ordering is completed sushi restaurant style by making hash marks on the pre-printed menu sheet. We selected one item from each of the five sections of the menu.

From the Frio (Cold) portion of the menu:
Un rollo este bonito picado.
Chopped marinated tuna and mackerel.  A dish as beautiful as it was delicious!
Utensil used: Chopsticks

img_7047From the Vapor (Steamed) portion of the menu: Siomay de congrio en caldeirada.
Steamed Indonesian style dumplings, made with local conger fish, decorated with peanuts and green onion and served with a savory peanut dipping sauce.
Utensil used: Hands

img_7051From the Brasa (Grilled) portion of the menu: Ventresca de jurel con pimientos del Couto.
Mackerel belly with roasted Galician Couto peppers and a Hebrón pepper sauce. This hearty portion of fish had a nice char on the edges but remained perfectly cooked throughout.
Utensil used: Chopsticks

img_7048-1From the Fritura (Fried) portion of the menu:  Croqueta nigiri de merluza salpresa.
Yes, these are the same fantastic green salsa croquetas topped with marinated hake nigiri that had been on my mind for months, ever since we first had them at Michelin starred Alborada earlier in the year.
Utensil used: Hands

From the Guiso (Stewed) portion of the menu: Curry de Choupas.
Galician squid in a slightly spicy Thai style curry stew, with a bowl of rice on the side.
Utensil used: Spoon

Cocktails on the table and Estrella Galicia beer on tap in the background.

Arallo doesn’t have a dessert menu, but there are cocktails, which I find perfectly suitable in lieu of dessert to close the meal. The gin con vermút (gin with vermouth) was simple and delicious and the frutas de pasión con licor café (passion fruit with Galician coffee liquor) was a little more complex and refreshingly delicious.

Chef Iván Domínguez wasn’t in the kitchen the evening we were there (he was actually in Madrid working on the opening of the group’s newest restaurant), but we thoroughly enjoyed chatting with Executive Chef Cristian Santiago Breijo (pictured above in the hat). He was a delight to talk with as we discussed his hometown, the opening of the restaurant, and all of the food and cocktail options over our first round of drinks.

All of the local celebrities hang out here! Deportivo La Coruña fútbol (soccer) star Manuel Pablo (center) joins MyLifeOnVacation (left) and José from Turvegal (right) for a photo. Just to clarify, Manuel Pablo is the celebrity. 9-)

Arallo Taberna is one of the hottest spots in A Coruña with a great location, inventive cuisine, creative cocktails, and a fun, casual, extremely welcoming environment. The militancia atlántica keeps marching forward … the group that opened Arallo in August has also just inaugurated Ánima, in the capital city of Madrid, in September.


Arallo Taberna (map)
Plaza de María Pita, 3, A Coruña, Spain

Email: hola@arallotaberna.com
Website: www.arallotaberna.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/arallotaberna
Instagram: www.instagram.com/arallotaberna

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Eclectic is located right in the heart of the old town of A Coruña.

Date of visit: Friday, September 23, 2016

Eclectic Lar Gastronómico is a relatively new addition to the culinary scene in A Coruña, having opened in June of 2016 on a quiet little pedestrian street right in the middle of the old town. Chefs Francesc (Paco) Chicón and Sergio Musso previously had a successful restaurant in Barcelona and decided to make a move from the hectic lifestyle of the big city to the comparative tranquility of A Coruña. To describe the restaurant, one needs to only look at the name itself:

Eclectic refers to the global cuisine, that blends techniques and tastes from all sorts of different cultures where the roots of varied cuisines are brought forth onto the plate using quality local products.

Lar comes from the Galician word Lareira, the word for home. Not house, but home, where you have that feeling of being at ease and comfortable, like visiting your grandma’s house. The dining room is small, very comfortable, decorated eclectically (exactly as the restaurant’s name implies), with an open kitchen that is still a unique feature in Galicia.

Gastronómico because of the true gastronomic experience delivered by these two talented chefs.

 

Eclectic offers two tasting menus. The corto (short) is comprised of five savory plates and one dessert while the largo (long) is seven savory and two desserts. A unique feature is that the tasting menu changes monthly but remains fairly static during the month with certain proteins or vegetables changing depending upon the availability of seasonal products at the market. Because of the dependency on the market ingredients, reservations are required 24 hours in advance. Eclectic takes their wine program quite seriously and boasts a wide range of carefully selected options with a large variety of grapes represented in their cellar.

 

 

 

This appetizer was called ‘chicharron’ de cerdo, but it was actually a pot of flavorful pork rillettes served with onion and olive toast. An excellent start to the meal.

Parrillada de marisco, migas y crema de avellanas – seafood mixed grill with bread crumbs and hazelnut cream 

The first course of the largo version of the menu was a variety of seafood (mejillones – mussels, berberechos – cockles, sepia – cuttlefish, pulpo – octopus and a large camarón – shrimp) impressively displayed on an elevated grill. All were cooked perfectly a su punto (just barely done). The hazelnut cream anchored the pile of migas (fried bread crumbs) seasoned with pimentón (paprika) and garnished with a carbón de yucca, a ‘blackened’ (in color, not flavor) piece of the South American root vegetable. A bit of flavorful mayonesa de algas (seaweed mayonnaise) on the side as a dipping sauce brought creamy to the already briny and crunchy plate; a wonderful combination of textures and fresh flavors.

Galicians are quite particular about and proud of their bread. While not actually Gallegos, the chefs at Eclectic follow suit with this thoughtfully composed high quality bread basket. From the top clockwise, pan malta de trigo, pan de centeno, pan de payés, and my favorite of the basket, pan de broa which is a typical Galician corn flour bread made only on Saturdays at a certain local bakery, so the slice arrived freshly baked and still warm.

Cococha de bacalao, pate xoubas y aceite de hierbas – throat of salt cod, sardine pâté and herb (arugula) oil

Yes, you read that right, the throat of the cod. Salt cod always tends to be a bit firm just because of the drying process it goes through, but this version was very carefully done, not too firm and very flavorful. The pâté beneath the cod, made from local Galician sardines, had a strong smell but a surprisingly mild taste even before introducing the arugula emulsion that decorated the plate and balanced the palate.

Crema de pochas con jamón ibérico, brotes y gotas de allada – cream of white beans with Iberian ham and drops of garlic paprika sauce.

With this dish I really came to understand what the chefs mean with eclectic; taking traditional ingredients and using them in (sometimes) surprising non-traditional ways. Here, a cream of white bean soup was made using dried white beans that are cooked then puréed into a soup. Totally traditional. Once the spoon dips in, another layer lies beneath; this one a cream of the fresh green version of that same bean that are in season right now. A total surprise! Garnished on top with deliciously salty Iberian ham (two ways – soft slices of the cured meat and little chunks fried until nearly crispy), scallion, fresh whole baby green beans, and drops of allada (a sauce made from adding paprika to garlic browned in olive oil). Given the length of the menu, I endeavoured to leave something on the plate in each of the courses that came before this one, but it was a losing battle with this delicious soup. I resigned myself to delicious defeat and enjoyed the entire bowl, sampling each of the breads from that tempting basket in the process.

Ravioli de calamar y espuma de pimiento rojo asado – Squid ravioli with roasted red pepper foam over sofrito

Very traditional Spanish ingredients took on a slightly Asian flair in this ravioli made of a wonton wrapper stuffed full with tender flavorful squid placed atop a bed of tomato, onion, and red pepper sofrito (which you can’t see in the photo, bit it’s under there) next to a roasted red pepper cream (the menu called it foamy, but it was actually more creamy). The squid ink painted on the plate is a reminder of what the delicious ravioli filling is made, lest you forget. Once again, I was helpless to the deliciousness and just couldn’t leave anything on the plate; the combination of flavors was just too perfect to leave any behind.

Chefs Musso (left) and Chicón (right) in the open kitchen at Eclectic Lar Gastronómico.

Pescado del día envuelto en hoja de higuera, crema de mejillones con calabaza y emulsión de bróculi – Fish of the day wrapped in fig leaf, cream of mussels, squash, and ginger with broccoli emulsion

While perhaps the least visually interesting plate of the day, this dish had a beautiful depth of flavor. The fish of the day, palomita (butterfish – a firm flesh, slightly oily fish), was cooked at low temperature (sous vide) and finished in a fig leaf to impart flavor (the fish was presented wrapped in the fig leaf, the photo was taken after it was unwrapped). The fish may change daily depending upon whatever is available at the market that morning as the chefs seek out producto de primera (first class product). Once again, the sauces and creams that grace the plate bring in additional flavors that work together seamlessly with the subtly prepared fish.

The lighter courses up to this point were paired with this Viñas del Vero Somontano (a Macabeo Chardonnay blend). The heavier courses from here on were paired with this award winning Viña Peón by Adega O Canceliño (a Mencía Garnacha blend). Eclectic serves local Aguas de Mondariz mineral water. 

Costilla al ras el hanout con verduras – Pork rib with Moroccan ras el hanout seasoning and vegetables

From the moment it hit the table, the air filled with the smell of incredibly rich and unctuous confit of pork tucked within crispy phyllo dough. The rib bone was there for mere decoration; the meat had long ago fallen off of that bone during a slow, cocina lenta, process. Middle eastern influences came to the table here in the hint of Moroccan al ras el hanout spice in the intensely flavorful sauce over the pork and the yogurt sesame sauce on the side. A brightly acidic cabbage salad balanced out the flavors perfectly. I really loved this dish.

Travel tip: many spices are very inexpensive to buy in Spain and make wonderful souvenirs and gifts to bring home. After eating at Eclectic, I stopped at a spice shop to pick up some al ras el hanout (a spice blend which translates as “top of the shop”, since it contains the best spices of the market such as nutmeg, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, etc.) to take home and experiment with.

Taco de ternera stroganoff con espuma de mostaza – Beef stroganoff with mustard foam

Here, the word ‘taco’ is referring to the placement of the tender sous vide beef into a square on the plate. The two cultures represented on this plate worked perfectly in unison; a flavorful Russian inspired beef stroganoff and a French inspired mushroom and onion duxelles wrapped in a crisp savory pastry crust. A traditional stroganoff incorporates mustard, so here the mustard appeared in three interesting forms (regular Dijon mustard, mustard foam, and mustard in the rich sauce over the marinated steak), along with a pop of sweet and tart in the tiny encurdito (pickled) pearl onion.  A perfect final dish; rich, savory and surprising.

Mojito (crema de lima, pasta sucre, gelatina de ron y aire de mojito) – Mojito (cream of lime, crumbled sweet crust, rum marshmallows and mojito air)

The theme of “there’s a lot going on here” continued with the dessert courses. Both desserts were quite complicated, but in the best way possible – full of fun, surprises, and flavor. The first dessert, called “mojito”, was lime cream (with an egg yolk base) topped with crumbled pasta sucre (a brown sugar crust) then a quenelle of cold merengue (that played like ice cream, even though I was told clearly that it was not ice cream) brightly flavored with mint and yerba buena (spearmint). These marshmallows would absolutely not be appropriate for children, but this adult really enjoyed the big punch of rum in each little square. Foam mojito ‘air’ really just provided a little extra texture, as this dish didn’t require any more flavors. Lots going on, but it all came together very nicely.

“La vie en Rose” (mousse de lichis, red velvet de remolacha, hibisco y frutos rojos) – “La vie en Rose” (lychee mousse, beet red velvet, hibiscus and red berries)

It takes three days for all of the components of the “La vie en Rose” dessert to be prepared. The assembly begins during the middle of the meal (in the photo of the chefs above, you can see this plate under construction). Two of the ingredients are beets and mushrooms. (Yes, maitake mushrooms in the dessert!) It’s complicated and exotic, looks like a work of art, and is an absolutely amazing dish. Normally in a tasting menu the final savory dish is the star of the show and then things calm back down in the dessert course. That is not the case here. Lychee cream is on the bottom with red velvet cake crumbles (made with beets), candied hibiscus on top, with a garnish of a maitake mushroom infused with hibiscus on the side, and a ball of hibiscus mousse glazed in a sweet beet sauce at the center of it all. This exceptional dessert was the star of the show and the pinnacle of a truly exceptional dining experience.

The chefs were extremely hospitable and attended carefully to every detail throughout the afternoon. The creativity of their eclectic kitchen, their love of the craft, and respect for the local Galician products are illustrated plate by plate in their menu. At the time of this writing, the menu for October 2016 has been published, and it looks equally amazing. I would love to be able to visit every month to experience what new magical dishes the chefs at Eclectic come up with!


Eclectic Lar Gastronómico
Calle Oliva, 3, A Coruña, Spain (map)
+34 617 62 14 23

Website: www.eclecticrestaurante.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/eclecticrestaurant
Instagram: www.instagram.com/eclecticgastro
Twitter: www.twitter.com/eclecticgastro

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Date of Visit: Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Obviously, Galicia has a rich seafaring tradition as reflected in the vast amount of culinary treasures that come from the sea. As a point of reference, read just about any blog post I’ve done to date to get a good sense for the shellfish and seafood that abound in the region. While Galicia is bordered on two sides by the sea with more than 700 miles of coastline, there is certainly a lot of rural and agricultural territory inland where an abundance of cattle roam free. And when I say “roam free”, I mean roam free:

Whether driving along in a car or walking along the Camino de Santiago, cows are all over rural Galicia. So much so that there are caution signs posted along the highways to advise drivers to beware. My photos show mostly dairy cows grazing out in the open, but there are plenty of other cattle that I’ve noticed in my travels throughout Galicia. A famous Galician author from Coruña, Manuel Rivas, even refers to Galicia as the “land of one million cows”. After so much seafood, it was time to finally try some of this Galician beef we had been seeing and hearing so much about.

Since I follow quite a few people in Galicia on social media, I inquired on Instagram and received a very strong recommendation for the chuletón (T-bone steak) at Divino Vinoteca from a local Coruña based foodie. As it turns out, Divino is conveniently located in the O Burgo – Culleredo area, quite near the A Coruña airport.

This display case / meat cooler (pictured on the left) is the first thing one sees upon entering Divino Vinoteca. Wow, it is an impressive sight. When I posted this photo on Instagram, a different follower from Coruña commented “The gates of heaven should open to a sight such as this! We Galicians know how to eat!”; I agree wholeheartedly and could not have said it better myself.

Much, if not all, of the beef available at Divino is the Rubia Gallega (Galician Blonde) breed of cow. Named for its red-blonde coat, the Rubia Gallega is primarily beef cattle, although their milk is also used to make a famous local cheese, called tetilla (named for its, um, unique shape – click on the link to see what I mean). Galician chuletón is so well-regarded that in a recent interview with none other than Juan Mari Arzak (owner of Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain, regularly listed as one of the best restaurant in the world), he stated that the best chuletón he’d ever had in his life was eaten in Galicia.

There were many options to choose from on the menu, but we were there for chuletón from the premium Rubio Gallego. We advised our server of our selection and he came back with this; a slate with two enormous steaks for us to choose from:

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Chuletón de buey (Beef T-bone steak) – these beautiful premium steaks came from 9 year old Rubia Gallega cows whose steaks had been aged for 3 months. The market price was listed by the kilo, and these two weighed in at 1460 and 1580 grams, respectively. That’s more than 3 pounds each, including the fat and bone. We selected the smaller one, although “small” doesn’t really seem like the proper word to describe a 3.3 pound steak!

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Our table was right next to the action in the front part of the kitchen, including a nice view of the jamonera (the apparatus that holds the jamón) and several wheels of cheese.

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Tempranillo wines, mine from Ribera del Duero and Mr. Vacation’s from la Rioja, to accompany our feast.

img_3041Croquetas as an appetizer.

I loved the flatware here. On the left (above) the casual set that accompanied the appetizer. On the right things got serious with this Laguiole-style steak knife with a brass accented handle, which arrived just in time for …

img_3050This chuletón! Seared perfectly rare, carved off the bone, extra fat removed, sliced, arranged on a warm plate, and sprinkled with coarse black and white sea salt, this made quite an impression when it was brought to the table.
img_3047A closer look at this gorgeous steak. The plate was quite warm, which allowed us to cook pieces just a bit more by laying them down upon the surface of the hot plate. We noticed that the waiter brought a small tabletop grill to a neighboring table so that one member of that party could cook individual pieces of steak more well-done to his liking.

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We ordered simple sides of cachelos (boiled potatoes) and salad to accompany the steak. Meat and potatoes, Gallego style! What can I say about that steak? It was exactly as flavorful, tender, and delicious as it looks. It’s hard to improve upon an excellent quality product that is prepared carefully and simply.

The newspaper article below was on display  in the restaurant describing a €250 steak. Thank goodness ours came in less than that! It also talks about a man who came to the restaurant and finished a 2.7kg steak alone, and goes on to mention other steakhouses in Galicia that are also serving quality Galician beef at this high level. In this case a picture really is worth a thousand words: the proprietor of Divino standing behind a whole side of aged beef, holding up a gorgeous chuletón.

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Dessert? Why not! Actually, it was really fortunate that we opted for dessert because this tiramisu (below, left) is among the best I’ve ever tasted. The lemon sorbet ice cream (below, right) was also delightful, so tart and refreshing after the richness of the steak.

Both Mr. Vacation and I agreed that this was definitely in our Top 5 restaurant steak meals. For me, I’d even say Top 3 (hey, this sounds like a good topic for a future post). I see why Divino is so renowned, not only in Galicia but in all of Spain, given the quality of the product they source and the care with which they prepare it.


Divino Vinoteca
Rúa Ramón Cabanillas s/n, Culleredo, Spain (map)
+34 881 91 44 12

Website: www.restauranteenculleredo.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/people/Divino-Vinoteca

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